Day 6: Mandalay Baseball, USC, Los Angeles Dodgers

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By Josh Schwartzman
The first stop on our trip Friday was Mandalay Sports. They say first impressions are important, so walking in to the room with free hats for everyone was a great start. Larry Freedman, President of Mandalay Baseball, took almost three hours out of his day to talk to us about what he does, which was an amazing experience. Mr. Freedman is in charge of all five minor league franchises owned by Mandalay Baseball. He explained the different arms of the Mandalay Entertainment Group, ranging from Mandalay Pictures to Mandalay Professional Sports, run by Peter Guber, who owns the Golden State Warriors franchise. Mr. Freedman emphasized the five core principles of Mandalay that guide their daily activities. The first major principal is to provide affordable, high quality products. And to prove that this is true, Mr. Freedman told us that the average total cost for a family to go to a minor league baseball game, including tickets, drinks and hot dogs is about $63. This would not be possible in the Major Leagues. The second principal of Mandalay is quality family entertainment. Mandalay wants to make sure that a family will not think twice about wanting to come back, something that is lost among Major League teams. The third aspect is unsurpassed customer service. It is common sense that an organization should make sure its fans and customers are having a good time, but not everyone realizes it. This is something Mandalay does extremely well. Listening to Mr. Freedman talk about being involved in the community, you could really tell he was passionate about it. Having a baseball team in an area is a long term investment and giving back to the community is so important. The last core principle is to leave a positive sponsor impact. Mandalay creates custom promotions for sponsors, each with their own unique twist.
                One of the teams owned by Mandalay Baseball is the Dayton Dragons. The Dragons currently hold the longest home sellout streak in all professional sports at over 900 games. Mr. Freedman talked about how even though the team may not be that great, the experience provided to fans makes them want to continue to come back. Something that keeps fans happy is that they are not inundated with sponsorship signs. Instead of signs all over the field, Mandalay installs LED signs which rotate to show just a few advertisements during the game. Mr. Freedman also showed us their “play ball,” similar to a playbill at an opera, that shows stats and facts about the teams. The play ball is handed out to fans for free, however it actually is a source of revenue for the teams due to category exclusivity. The fact that a company could be the only one of its kind in the publication is extremely attractive and thus draws a pretty good price for a sponsorship. One other extremely interesting thing that Mr. Freedman talked about was the Maroon 5 concert that had come to Dayton, Ohio. It would have seemed that having Maroon 5 come to do a concert would be great for a team, however this was not the case. It was actually extremely difficult to market the concert because at the time Maroon 5 did not have any new albums out.
                Mr. Freedman also took the time to give us some very valuable advice as far as our careers are concerned. In his PowerPoint, there was an inspirational quote by the Avett Brothers that Mr. Freedman likes very much. It said, “Decide what to be and go be it.” He told us that we need to think broadly about what kind of job we want. However, he also mentioned that we should not let our job define us, because it is temporary. He said that life is like chess, in that you cannot win in one or two moves. It takes thought. Finally, as was echoed by every single executive we met with, Mr. Freedman insisted that the key to getting any job in this industry is to make relationships and network. Overall, listening to Mr. Freedman speak today was a great experience. I learned so much from these few hours at Mandalay Sports.​

 

By Emily Greenstein

The second stop on our last day in LA was to the University of Southern California. We started by going to the LA Coliseum. This was such a cool place to visit because of all the history in this arena. This is the place that the first ever, super bowl was played, Olympics were held here, both the Rams and Raiders used it as their home at some point, and of course now is the home of the USC Trojans football team. Seeing something like this coliseum to play football in was so amazing compared to the Carrier Dome. The atmosphere at these games must be so much crazier than anything I have ever experienced at a Syracuse football game. We then got to see the locker rooms and walk on the field.

Next we went to USC’s campus to see the athletic facilities for the athletes. USC just completed renovations on all of their 3 athletic buildings and they are unbelievable. The first building, Heritage Hall, is home to many trophies and awards won by the USC football team throughout its history. This building took about 33 million dollars to renovate and build. The next facility we saw was the McKay athletic complex. This building is below Heritage hall and blew me away. This building is used as a training center, rehab facility, and academic hall for all USC athletes. There are 21 athletic teams at USC and all of the athletes from any of these teams can use the facility whenever they please. This facility was opened in August of 2013 and cost 67 million dollars to complete; I have never seen anything like it. Let’s just saw it puts the Carmelo center for our athletes to shame. In the basement of the building is an entire academic wing for athletes to come and study, because an education is just as important to USC as being an athlete. The third building in this renovation is the aquatic center, we unfortunately did not have time to go inside this building but it cost about 16 million dollars to build and is used for the swimmers and water polo athletes.

The USC campus is beautiful and this being my first time to LA, the weather was certainly a nice change from Syracuse. After seeing all of these facilities and how nice the weather is here, I think I should have chosen a warmer climate to go to school in. Not seriously, but I do wish it would be just a little bit warmer up in Cuse. Today was a great day and USC was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.

By David Lauterbach

Growing up in Los Angeles, I have watched, listened, talked, etc. about the Dodgers my entire life. Having the chance to visit Dodger Stadium and meet with executives made this trip end on a perfect note for me. We spoke with five executives at the stadium: two in ticket sales, one in sponsorship, one in broadcasting/marketing, and one in stadium operations. All five of them gave me insight into not only the Dodgers’ organization, but also into what it takes to work in baseball.

A couple of the men we spoke with talked about how their job doesn’t really stop and end with the regular season. More specifically, the stadium operations department is sometimes busier in the offseason than it is during the regular season. This is because the Dodgers have to touch up and improve stadium nearly every offseason. At the same time, the stadium is rented out for concerts, company, and charity events. This causes the stadium operations department to constantly work during the offseason to keep the stadium up-to-date and its visitors happy.

One thing that stuck out to me during the ticket sales presentations was the difficulty baseball clubs deal with when it comes to its 162 game seasons. Baseball has far more home games than football, 8, and basketball, 41. With 81 home games during the regular season, the Dodgers have to work with the sponsorship department to ensure that fans are always coming to the game whether its on a Tuesday or Saturday night. By working together, the sponsorship department might have a company sponsor a promotion on a Tuesday night that increases the attendance from 30,000 to 40,000. Another interesting point that was brought up was the fact that the Dodgers led the MLB in both road and home attendance in 2013. This simple fact helped the sponsorship department sell sponsorships for home games because companies knew their product would be seen by thousands of fans. On the flip side, it made it easier for the ticket sales department to sell tickets because of the team’s success.

At the end of the meeting, we took a behind the scenes tour of Dodger Stadium. One thing that has always stuck out to me about it while growing in Los Angeles is that it truly is a classic stadium. There aren’t very many activities to do that would prevent fans from sitting in their seats and watching the game. While that is a negative to some people, it was a positive for me. Dodger Stadium is the third oldest stadium in the MLB (oldest is Fenway Park and second-oldest is Wrigley Field) and the fact that the Dodgers try to conserve that history and protect that means a lot to me as a sports fan. The team isn’t trying to be flashy; instead it’s trying to maintain the integrity of America’s pastime.

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Departure!March 12th, 2016
LA here we come!
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