CSL Daily

November 13, 2009

CSL Students Take 2nd in Case Study Competition at SMA Conference


In an industry where experience is an added benefit to what is learned in the classroom, students from the Center of Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University recently got the experience of a lifetime at the Sport Marketing Association (SMA) Conference held in Cleveland, Ohio. Four students from the CSL, Stephen Embrey, Jeremy Hirsch, Jason Martin, and Kevin Wagner had the opportunity to travel to Cleveland for the SMA Conference and represent VCU in its Graduate Case Study Competition. The team, who had worked together for weeks on the case study, was able to finish second in the competition, beating esteemed Sport Management programs such as Florida State and Canisius.

The Case Study Competition held during the SMA Conference involved the Charlotte Bobcats franchise of the NBA and asked each team to create a marketing management strategy to fix their performance on the court, in the stands, and in the Charlotte community. Taking the perspective of the Bobcats’ front office management, the CSL team created a fan initiative known as “FanF1rst,” which would help the Bobcats rectify their current situation. With “FanF1rst,” the initiative consisted of researching the fan, interacting with the fan, and catering to the fan. “Our plan with FanF1rst was to provide a comprehensive marketing plan involving extensive research and community involvement to reunite basketball and the citizens of Charlotte in a positive manner,” said Kevin Wagner. Each component of “FanF1rst”allowed the team to create an innovative marketing strategy to make the Charlotte Bobcats a more marketable product.

In addition to the Case Study Competition, the CSL students were able to experience the sights and sounds of Cleveland throughout the duration of the SMA Conference. Students were able to meet and interact with the best and the brightest from the academia and athletic worlds to learn about new ideas taking root in the Sport industry. The conference featured a wide array of influential presenters such as Mike McGee, the Managing Director of the ANNIKA Brand of Businesses, Len Komoroski, the President of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Paul Dolan, President of the Cleveland Indians. Each presenter was able to bring their own perspective of the Sport industry to the table and gave insight about the future of sport. CSL student Jeremy Hirsch remarked, “I was amazed at the collection of minds from around the sports industry present at the event, and was even able to do some networking to help myself for my intended career path.”

After finishing second in the Case Study Competition and meeting sport business leaders, the students will remember the SMA Conference in Cleveland as a great learning tool. Group advisor and Professor Brendan Dwyer said “the SMA case study trip was an excellent opportunity for the students to interact with industry leaders while at the same time competing against other reputable graduate programs.” Upon returning to Richmond, the CSL students will finish out the rest of the Fall semester with projects, papers, and events that will enhance their classroom experience.

By: Jason Martin, CSL Class of 2010

November 3, 2009

CSL Gets A Behind The Scenes View of Redskins Game

Redskins stadium.jpg

At 5:45am three buses loaded with Center for Sport Leadership students and professors left the VCU Siegel Center parking lot and began their journey to the nation’s capital. Almost two hours later, the busses arrived at FedEx Field for a day of observing the NFL, with behind the scenes access and an insider’s view of the Washington Redskins vs. Kansas City Chiefs football game.

After arriving at the stadium, each student and professor received a press pass which allowed full access to the entire stadium, including the field and press box. Zack Bolno, Publics Relations Director for the Washington Redskins, guided the group on the tour through the stadium. Once the class passed through security, students got a chance to see FedEx Field from a player’s perspective. They entered the field through the player’s tunnel and Zack described the basic layout of the stadium as well as the marketing aspects visible from field level. The next stop on the tour was the Redskins’ locker room. In the locker room, the CSL students were introduced to the Redskins’ equipment manager, who gave a tour of the players’ and coaches’ locker rooms, as well as the athletic training room. Many students took this opportunity to ask questions and snap pictures in front of their favorite player’s lockers. From there, the group was escorted past the Redskin Cheerleaders’ practice floor, up the stairs, and into the Owner’s Club level. The Owner’s Club level houses the press box, all media outlets, and many luxury suites, all of which the group got to learn about and see. From the Owner’s Club, the tour concluded with a crash course in media relations in the interview room, where Coach Zorn is asked questions by the media after every game.

The tour was an eye opening experience into the operations and public relations world of professional football. CSL students also got to experience another side of this NFL lifestyle, which is that of the fans. After the stadium tour, the class went to the parking lot, where Professor Lampe had provided a tailgate. This pregame gathering is where the students and professors relaxed, ate, and mingled with Redskins fans, while taking in the whole experience of a football game. After a few heated games of corn-hole, three pans of chicken sandwiches, and a lot of observational learning, it was finally game time. Some students chose to spend time in the press box where there was heat and free food, while others sat amongst the fans cheering on the Redskins. Despite the fact that no touchdowns were scored and the Redskins were booed quite often for their poor showing, the students enjoyed this rare and exciting opportunity to have a behind the scenes look at an NFL event.

By: Andy Webb, CSL Class of 2010

November 3, 2009

Trip to Charlotte Offers Insiders View of Sporting Industry

Bobcats group.jpg

During VCU’s Fall Break for the 2009-2010 school year, the Center for Sport Leadership took a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. The CSL students and staff left Richmond on the morning of Thursday, October 15, stayed in downtown Charlotte one night, and returned in the evening on Friday. This two-day trip gave the students the opportunity to tour and learn about five sports facilities in the Charlotte area. They also had the privilege of hearing from and networking with sports industry professionals and VCU Center for Sport Leadership alumni.

The first stop Thursday morning was at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where the members of the staff were preparing for the NASCAR event that very weekend. Students got to see the race track and hear from Vice President of Business Development, Mike Burch, about the issues and process of running an event at a NASCAR facility. In the afternoon, the group went to the U.S. National Whitewater Center and heard from Jeff Shelton, who gave the students a crash course on the maintenance and financial issues involved in a state-of-the-art outdoor facility and business. After the talk, several CSL students and staff elected to participate and engage in the white water rafting course the center offers. Jason Martin, a student on the trip, enjoyed rafting through the course saying, “It was great because we actually got to experience the facility and all it has to offer instead of just touring and talking about it.”

On Friday, the group went to hear from the two professional franchises in Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Bobcats. The first place visited was Bank of America Stadium, the home of the Panthers. Henry Thomas, Director of Broadcasting and New Media, took everyone around the stadium, letting the group enjoy the concourses, suite and press boxes, and even the field. During the presentation, newly hired President, Danny Morrison, stopped by to meet the students and staff and answer any questions that were posed. After leaving the football facility, the bus took the members of the CSL across the city to Time Warner Cable Arena to see where the Charlotte Bobcats play and run their organization. VCU alumni Trista Langdon gave the students an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the four-year old arena. Students received an abundance of information about event and game management as well as the operations involved in running this unique sports facility.

In the afternoon on Friday, the bus drove just north of Charlotte to tour the Raceworld USA Complex, which is the headquarters for operations of Michael Waltrip Racing. Students got shown around by CSL graduate Jarian Kerekes. During the tour, the group of students and staff were walking among the employees working on the actual stock cars that compete in the motorsport competitions. The completion of the tour was a video in the HD Theatre on the process leading up to a race in which Waltrip Racing competes. After the movie, the students were visited by eight graduates of the VCU Center for Sport Leadership, all of whom work in or around Charlotte. The panel of alumni fielded questions, gave career advice, and stuck around to speak individually to the students.
The annual trip to Charlotte proved to be a very valuable experience for all the students involved. Mark Halewood was particularly impressed by the variety of facilities that were seen by stating, “Being able to see all the different facilities gave us great insight into the diversity within the sports industry.” The students will now use the knowledge and insight gained on this trip to help shape their future plans and finish out the Sport Leadership Master’s program.

By: Ryan Neises, CSL Class of 2010