Friday: USC, LA Coliseum, NFL Network.

By: Jeff Kent, Willy Kniesner, and Joe Sisti

Well folks the day has come. After today we will leave sunny Los Angeles for the cold and snowy Syracuse. Don’t get us wrong, we love us some Orange, but we also like to be warm, so the next week or so will be a little tough.

We had the opportunity to sleep in a bit after a night of hockey, which was nice. But once that alarm sounded it was go time.

Our first stop was on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC). And man was Trojan Nation nice. Beautiful buildings, fantastic water fountains, and a three-story bookstore kept us busy for just under an hour. Chris and I (Jeff) even joined a prospective student tour group where we learned about internship opportunities on The Ellen Show.

After our stop at USC, we traveled the short distance over the LA Coliseum. The Coliseum was beautiful, and it’s rich Olympic history added to it (will the upcoming 2024 Olympics add even more to this history? We shall see). The home of Trojans and Rams Football offers about 93,000 seats but does lack up-to-date suites. Thankfully, the kind donors of USC will be funding the roughly $400,000,000 renovation to the Coliseum, which brings us to our fun fact of the day. The LA Coliseum is not currently ADA approved, meaning it is not handicap accessible in all areas. According to our main man, Will (Event Operations Manager for LA Coliseum), the facility does not need to comply because it was “grandfathered in” (Basically it’s just really old). But, once a “grandfathered facility completes over $25,000,000 in renovation, they have to become ADA approved. This means that their new press box alone would require them to become ADA approved.

Along with the press box, the Coliseum will be doing some remodeling of their visiting locker room. The current visiting locker room is “possibly the worst locker room in the country” according to some unnamed sources at USC. There are rows of lockers in the middle of the room, making full team meetings almost impossible. Could this be contributing to USC Football’s success? Maybe.

However, it is the numerous non-sporting events that really sets the Coliseum apart from other sporting venues. When John F. Kennedy won the Democratic Party nomination in 1960, he accepted the nomination in the Coliseum. Moreover, after Charles Lindbergh completed the first transatlantic flight, he made a speech in the venue. Additionally, the Coliseum has been used for both concerts and movies, hosting famous artists such as The Clash, Van Halen, Guns and Roses, and U2, and has been filmed in movies like Rocky II, and Jerry McGuire.

For this last bit about the LA Coliseum, I (still Jeff) am speaking directly to Professor Veley. The statues by the entrance are Jack and Jill. I want my 5 bonus points.

The next move was arguably the most popular stop on the trip; lunch at Chick Fil-A. This was the first time that some of us had experienced this brand of chicken, and it certainly lived up to what Elijah and Adam hyped it up to be. Thank you, Chick Fil-A.

After lunch, I (Willy) was extremely excited to visit the NFL Network. At SU, I am producer for CitrusTV-the student run television studio. I was very curious to see how the production process for a live television show at the student television studio compared to a real show at a major sports television network. Today, We got to witness the show, “Path to the Draft.”

We learned that the preparation process for a normal show begins in the morning. At noon, the producers meet with the talent in order to discuss talking points for the show and to discuss the run down–which is divided into five blocks. After hearing the run down, video editors and graphics producers get to work. Throughout the day, video editors use Adobe Premier to cut highlights, and b-roll that is used during the show, and two graphics producers build chyron’s and full screens that are aired during the show.

Before the show started, everything was checked over by the director. In this case, it was critical because one of the graphics had a spelling error. Once the show finally started, the director seemed to have the most important job. She was in constant communication with the people in the control room in order to insure that the videos and the graphics were played at the right time, and with the floor director in order to keep the talent informed of the show’s direction.

Moreover, I was interested to learn about the industry challenges that the NFL Network faces. The network must ensure that it is financially viable. The NFL Network charges cable companies a fee of $1.40 to distribute its channel. However, since cord cutting is a prevalent trend within the cable industry and because Dish does not show the NFL network, it is hard for network to the penetrate market and to continue to generate revenue. Moreover, ratings were down for NFL games this past season–if this trend keeps up, advertisers will not pay the network as much money for commercial spots. The NFL is exploring ways to ensure that the Thursday night games aired on the NFL network achieve higher ratings.

Furthermore, on this trip, our group has made an effort to learn about the company cultures of the businesses that we have visited. The NFL Network’s culture appeared to be laid back. The workers dressed casually and people smiled and joked around during breaks in the show. Moreover, since the NFL Network was created and is operated by the NFL, it faces issues of integrity. However, the director mentioned that the NFL rarely interferes with the network. Thus, the NFL Network gives fair opinions in order to maintain an unbiased reputation to consumers.

Following our on set tour of NFL Network we started the final bus ride to dinner just minutes away from our hotel. Our last venture through the busy Los Angeles traffic ended with a wonderful final meal at Miceli’s curtesy of Professor Veley. Miceli’s was located right down the road from our hotel so it made for a smooth transition into the final stage of our trip. Miceli’s itself was a wonderful environment full of lively staff and delicious Italian food. The waiters also doubled as singers and kept us entertained with classical songs throughout the night. After the conclusion of our meal we took a final group picture in front of Miceli’s as a way to commemorate the end of our journey. After a short bus ride back to the hotel everyone grabbed their belongings from the storage room and changed into clothes for the flight home.

Next we gathered on the bus and prepared for our ride to LAX. The final bus ride proved to be the most entertaining one of the trip with Sean, our amazing bus driver, playing one classical rock hit after another (Despite what he might tell you, I think this was professor Veley’s favorite portion of the trip). When we finally arrived at LAX the entire group said our good-byes to Sean at the United Airlines gate of LAX. From there we began the departure process to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. We arrived in Chicago at around 5:04 AM CST (The group was noticeably exhausted by this point, except professor Veley who continued to document his top ten favorite moments of the trip). After an hour and a half layover the group boarded one final flight to snowy Syracuse, New York. Finally, our flight landed in Syracuse at 9:24 AM EST and we were welcomed by a modest 21-degree day in Central New York. We gathered on the bus to college place and said our final good-byes to close out an unbelievable seven days. The mood was overall very somber as the journey officially closed and the reality of returning to chilly Syracuse had finally set in. Overall it was incredible experience that taught everyone on the a monumental amount about the sports industry, Los Angeles and life in general. Until next year Los Angeles!

We want to take the time to thank Professor Veley, Kate, and Francesco for all of the hard work they put into this trip.  It was amazing and we cannot thank you enough!

GO ORANGE!

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