We started the morning out with a scenic overlook of LA at the famous Dodgers stadium before touring the facility and speaking with some of their executives. Dodgers Stadium is still on private property, and the third oldest stadium behind Wrigley and Fenway. Dodgers stadium is also the largest stadium in baseball, seating 56,000 fans. Dodgers stadium was first opened in 1962 and is the only baseball stadium to date that has parking on all levels so fans can walk right to their seats. Our tour guide, Suzana, took us around the stadium and detailed the history and accomplishments of the organization. She detailed the stadium seating and told us the fun fact that the owner, Walter O’Malley, wanted their colors to represent the sunshine, ocean, and the green scenery that surrounds the area, so that fans would be reminded of where they were in the country. We explored one of the 36 luxury boxes as well, which range anywhere from $4,000-6,000 per game. Fun fact: Dodgers stadium does host weddings and it costs approximately $10,000 to get married on home plate.
The Dodgers were most recently renovated in 2012 with a $100 million dollar renovation that ties in the legacy of the past, with the modern-day Dodgers experience. The legacy of Jackie Robinson around the stadium was incredible, specifically his Rookie of the Year Trophy from 1947 as well as his Most Valuable Player award. Dodgers Stadium had so much history from pictures of Sinatra when he sang the national anthem at the stadium in 1977, to the trunks that the players carried over with them when they moved the team to Brooklyn in 1958.
The Dodgers are also the only team named after their fans, originally called the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers because of the path it took to get to the stadium, the fans would actually have to dodge trolleys to make it there. The Vin Scully press box was interesting, especially since he did not initially want the box named after him because it would show he is partial to a team. Vin Scully also does not sit in his own press box during games to do his play-by-plays, which he has been doing for the Dodgers since 1950. We also were informed that this would be the legendary Scully’s last season an that some of the games and promotions would revolve around his retirement. It was interesting to see the marketing of Cy Young winner and 2014 National League MVP Clayton Kershaw everywhere from the billboards outside of the stadium to the ticket stub sent out to season ticket holders that marked his no-hitter on June 19. Kershaw is the current face and brand of the Dodgers and it was extremely apparent throughout the stadium.
After the meeting we moved on to speaking with some of the Dodgers executives, the director of sales, Antonio Morici started off and introduced his colleagues who would be speaking with us about the organization and their experiences. The other executives included: Steve Ether who is the senior vice president of stadium operations, Shelly Wagner who is the director of marketing and broadcast, as well as Matin Kim who is the account director of international partnerships. Another executive we spoke with was David Siegel the current vice president of ticket sales, whose experience was insightful because he worked his way up in the Dodgers organization from and intern to a vice president who has been through four management changes in twenty years and has stuck with the organization. As we are all aspiring sports professionals, this was something refreshing to hear. Overall, the Dodgers are an organization with a long legacy and history that are constantly developing to meet the culturally diverse needs of Los Angeles and have an incredible mix of the past and where the team is headed in the future.
After the visit to Dodgers Stadium, Juan got us to Fox Studios in no time. Our time at Fox started with a tour of the 55-acre lot with the lovely Angel Hunter. The Fox lot started at over 300 acres of land, but was sold down to 55 acres. Fox Films, started by William Fox in 1915 in New York, combined with 20th Century to create 20th Century Fox in 1935. This merger made Fox what it is today, with their numerous Oscars and other awards.
What’s a visit to LA without a celebrity citing? While eating lunch, John Stamos walked right past us and into the restaurant for a nice sit down meal with a producer from the TV show he stars on, Grandfathered.
Our visit to Fox Sports started by meeting with George Greenberg, Jen Pransky, and Larry Jones. Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Jones are executive vice president; Ms. Pransky is the coordinating feature producer. All 3 of these executives gave us great career advice. Mr. Greenberg talked about the importance of telling a story with a TV show or a sports prodcution. Every TV production has a start, middle, and end, and it is the production crew’s job to tell that story and make sure it has point of view and perspective. Ms. Pransky reiterated the importance of story telling in television and the importance of learning how to write. Everywhere you go you are always going to need to be able to write.
Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Pransky left us with some very important words of advice. Put yourself out there and tell your superiors what you want, but don’t make them do the work to put you in that position. Ms. Pranksy gave us the example of someone coming into her office and telling her that he wants to get into baseball and asked if he could shadow the production crew on the Angels’ game to see what it’s all about. All Ms. Pransky has to do is say yes or no. Another piece of advice that was passed along was a saying in the industry. “I’d rather tell you to shut up then speak up”. Its better to tell the room your ideas because it may be the best idea they’ve heard, and if its not a good idea, the worst they’ll say is no. This goes hand in hand with their organizational culture of taking chances. It’s important to take calculated risks because that risk could turn into the next billion dollar idea, like Cleatus, the Fox NFL robot.
You’re not going to meet a Nez Balelo every day. You’re just not, and it’s only Tuesday.” Today we met and were inspired by the Nez Balelo at the CAA organization. Walking into the white marbled lobby of CAA, Creative Artists Agency, set the tone for this amazing opportunity. Balelo started the conversation by explaining his role within the trainee program and his belief in development of young individuals. His assistant Sean Kelly and trainee Vinny. He started out as a baseball player at Pepperdine University, went on to develop talent, and then eventually represent those talents later in the future.
Balelo was the first in his family to attend college and has been a trend setter ever since. However, he stressed during our meeting that everyone has a story and that each of us has our own path. Learning your craft and understanding the industry were two of the numerous advice given in that boardroom. “You can’t replace work ethic,” stated Balelo as he went on to explain that outworking your competition will set you aside. Having the “Grinder DNA” helped him succeed; “If you are a horse in a race and you have blinders on, don’t take them off to look around the track; keep focusing on the finish line.”
Working together, understanding that all are to support each other was the first set of principles within the organizational culture within CAA. The executives also recognize that they are successful, and stress that you have to give back. Something that really stood out was that they make it a rule to return calls of those within the organization before responding to anything else as well as leaving off titles on their business cards.
Compiling the top advice given as follows in no particular order:
1. Network early
2. Have a dream, but actually go after it. Be a Grinder and step out of your comfort zone
3. Learn the business and stay on top of your craft
4. Overtime become more selective; whether it be acquiring players or evaluating your current circle of friends, surround yourself with a good and appreciative people.
5. Conversation is what gets you a job; make personal connections and go beyond the expected (hand written note vs. email)
Nez Balelo spent an hour and a half of genuine conversation relaying some of the most valuable information we’ve heard so far. And like Professor Veley said, it’s only Tuesday.
After our meeting with Nez Balelo of CAA, we headed over to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to watch the Lakers take on the Sacramento Kings. We got there about a half-hour before tip off, and went shopping and got food inside. We were all looking forward to watching Kobe Bryant play in his last season, but unfortunately he did not play due to an injury to his shoulder. We were all pretty disappointed, but the Lakers entertainment department kept us busy with their tactics including a kiss cam, and a half court shot among others. Because it is Kobe Bryant’s last season we noticed that the stores sold a lot of Kobe items; it was hard to find anything not related to him.