By: Jeremy Losak, Simon Weiss, and Drew Mongiello
There is nothing more enjoyable than getting out of bed and leaving a hotel at 7:30am. But the experiences that came out of today’s events proved to be well worth the loss in sleep. The first stop of the morning was to the history-enriched Los Angeles Dodgers. Stepping out of the bus, the first site was the enriched blue sign welcoming us to Dodgers Stadium. The visit only got better from there.
There really cannot be a trip to a baseball stadium without having the chance to explore the facility. With Brett Searson at the helm, we had the opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes spots in the third oldest baseball stadium in the United States. The view from the Vin Scully Press Box was captivating – a real treat for any member of the media that has the privilege to cover the team. The tour was enriched with Dodgers history, clearly indicating the franchise’s current commitment to the team’s past. From the five MVPs, 11 Cy Youngs, 24 Gold Gloves, 17 Silver Sluggers, and five World Series titles (there was no actual award given to the World Series winner until a few decades ago), the Dodgers organization has made it an effort to place the history of their franchise as the capstone to their organization.
The greatest part of the tour was the opportunity to walk on the field and step into the dugout. We learned two things from that experience: first, Professor Veley would make a horrible baseball manager (you can’t pitch a reliever five days in a row), and second, there is an incredible amount of work that goes into preparing the field for play. Guggenheim Baseball Management has invested a lot of money, both on and off the field, to elevate the Dodger brand.
Following the tour, we met with multiple top-level executives from the Dodgers organization. In order, we met with David Siegel (Vice President, Ticket Sales), Steve Ethier (Senior Vice President, Stadium Operations), Lorenzo Sciarrino (Senior Director, Corporate Partnerships), Antonio Morici (Senior Director, Premium Sales and Services), Shelley Wagner (Director Advertising and Promotions), and Daisuke Sugiura (Public Relations Assistant).
David spoke to us about the Dodgers’ ticket pricing model and its relationship with the secondary ticket market. The Dodgers incorporate a starred variable dynamic hybrid for their individual game tickets. Steve explained how grounds keeping, security, tickets, special events, and landscaping are all in-house stadium operations, while concessions, parking, and stadium cleaning/maintenance are all outsourced to other companies. The most important aspect of a sponsorship deal, according to Lorenzo, is for the end-goal to be result oriented rather than price oriented. One of the biggest takeaways from Antonio is the importance of premium tickets because they are not subject to the same stringent revenue sharing rules as general tickets are. Shelley broke down the Dodgers marketing efforts, and the importance of selecting the right players to brand your franchise. Finally, Daisuke provided insight being a Syracuse University Sport Management alumni and recent graduate. He spoke about the importance of networking and working hard. And this was just the beginning to our day.
What do the shows New Girl, Bones, and How I Met Your Mother have in common? They each were filmed at FOX Studios Los Angeles, which was the second stop on our trip Tuesday. We were given a rare tour of the 46 year-old studio including a sneak peek of the set for the FOX show New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel, as well as a look at the wardrobe “library” where they store all of the clothing used in projects for FOX. A standout feature of the FOX wardrobe area was the section where they saved clothing from famous FOX productions like the Titanic, X-Men, and Planet of the Apes.
After we got a tour of the Studio we took a lunch break and ventured forward to FOX Sports where we met with FOX Sports producer and Syracuse Alum from the Newhouse school, Bernie Kim. Mr. Kim told us about his past at Syracuse as well as his work on the “Best Damn Sports Show Period”. He then gave us a brief description of his producer role for the NFL pregame show and gave us an idea of what the week is like leading up to NFL Sunday as far as pregame production. We then met the man himself, the enthusiastic and humorous, Jack Simmons, Senior Vice President of Productions. Mr. Simmons gave us a brief recap on the history of FOX Sports following its foundation in 1994, including how FOX gained the rights of NFC Football, as well as Major League Baseball and NASCAR, culminating with the creation of FOX’s own sports network, FOX Sports One. Mr. Simmons described his excitement over the new channel as a way to help make FOX Sports more global and gain exposure. He then went over what the process was like to produce the Super Bowl last year, which had Mr. Simmons traveling from LA to New York and then back to LA to oversee final production of the big game. We then got to speak with another Syracuse Alumni from the class of 1976, George Greenberg, Executive Vice President at FOX Sports. Mr. Greenberg spoke about his role in bringing together studio shows at FOX Sports. We also got great advice from Mr. Greenberg about how imperative it is to have a passion for what you are working in because it will get you more enjoyment and enthusiasm out of each day of work. After meeting Mr. Greenberg we met up again with Jack Simmons who gave us a special tour of some of FOX Sports studios including the FOX Sports Soccer studio, which cost around $10,000,000 to create. We then got a chance to go into a deeper one-on-one with Simmons, having an opportunity to pick the brain of one of the better personalities that we have met thus far on the trip. Our discussions ranged from marketing strategies for certain sports to the importance of having women work in the sport industry. Mr. Simmons has seen many great women work for him at FOX Sports and expressed his desire to see more women work for FOX Sports in the future. Mr. Simmons was a great man to listen to, and I found everything he, Mr. Kim, and Mr. Greenberg said to be very interesting and made for a very enjoyable second leg of our very busy Tuesday in sunny Los Angeles.
At Relativity Sports Heather Karatz, Vice President of Legal, began her presentation with a sizzle reel of all the different facets of Relativity. I was fascinated to learn how Relativity Sports integrates fashion, music, and gaming into promoting their clients. Relativity Sports began by the acquisition of other agencies, which now has over 400 athletes under representation, making it the second largest agency in the country. The company of Relativity is its own company, but Relativity Sports gets to act independently from the parent company. Relativity Sports is able to succeed in the competitive agency industry because of their ability to create content. All of the content is made in house, which is unique for an agency. In the future this content will continue to build out through the consulting and sales division that will grow closer with brands. Another future goal includes growing internationally in large markets such as China. Ms. Karatz described Relativity Sports as focusing on “passion, innovation, and excellence”. A lot of her position involves the marketing and endorsement deals of players in order to help players protect their brand. Her background includes going to Vanderbilt as an undergraduate and going to UCLA for law school. She got into labor law by working for NFL Management Council. The most interesting takeaway from her career path was learning about how she created a brand called Sports Girl. Sports Girl made sports news fun and interesting for the casual fan and was able to get female eyes focusing on buying the advertising shown on television. Ms. Karatz wrapped up the meeting by discussing some of her career tips. Her tips included networking, having the mentality that no task is too small, and being driven and passionate. She also stressed attention to detail and the importance of asking questions. Ms. Karatz felt resumes were hard to sort through and stressed correct spelling, along with proper formatting. After our meeting at Relativity Sports we went to Santa Monica Pier where we saw the sunset, played some games on the pier, and had dinner.
An absolutely incredible day in Los Angeles to say the least. Just in time to wake up early again for a pack-filled Wednesday.