NBA

NYC Top Ten from Sports Marketing MBA Visit

10. Glideslope

Agency visits were at a minimum during this trip, but Glideslope is a regular stop for our Sports Marketing MBA group. The agency’s founding partner, David Fuller and senior associate Jamie Rocha shared some great information about how companies can leverage global sports to create a long-lasting and positive effect on people around the world. In a competitive landscape where a lot of sports marketing agencies are trying to do everything, it was refreshing to see the specialized space that Glideslope has carved out for itself. The visit was capped by a panel that included Oregon alum Matt Geshke from Lareus Sport for Good Foundation and Paul Teeple, the Sport for Development Director at Partners for the Americas. Sports has a powerful influence and it’s clear that some companies are doing a fantastic job at using it to help develop other nations.

9. Major League Soccer

UO Alumnus Ian Campbell was our primary host at the MLS league office. His job is associated with supporting individual team’s business operations around the league. In addition to Ian, we were privileged to talk with Greg Lalas, the editor-in-chief for MLS Digital and CMO and good friend to our program, Howard Handler. I really enjoyed Howard’s presentation on the re-branding effort the league recently undertook. The background and reasoning behind the effort was interesting to hear straight from the CMO. This is the type of experience one can expect as part of this program!

8. National Basketball Association

Hearing stories and seeing pictures of previous visits with David Stern at the NBA raised our hopes for the possibility to spend some time with Commissioner Silver, but schedules did not align this year… However, the visit was far from a downer. We were treated to lunch and the company of a four person panel with a representative from Global Partnerships, Merchandising, Digital Marketing and Digital Media. From a business perspective, the NBA does a lot of things really well and I’m glad we were able to hear about a lot of their efforts first hand. I hope the commissioner knows he is welcome to visit us in Eugene anytime!

7. Alumni Networking Event

Food and drink provided by the program + visiting with alumni who are killing it in NYC and other northeast cities = Awesome! (that’s what this program is all about)

6. Bloomberg Sports

We know that data and analytics have become buzzwords in sports. However, I don’t think any of us really understood how much data is being collected and the amazing tools available to synthesize and recall that data to answer a question. Bill Squadron played host at Bloomberg Sports and humored the fantasy nerds and stat heads in our group. To show the power of some of the tools they have developed, he pulled up pitch information about a well known pitcher, restricted parameters to curveball location on 3-2 counts. What we saw were a few dots scattered around a box to simulate a strike zone, which indicated that this pitcher doesn’t trust his curveball as much deep into the count. What truly impressed us though was Bill proceeded to click on one of the dots and the game video popped up of that exact pitch! After picking up our jaws from off the table I think we all knew what tools we would want to use the next time we fill out our fantasy roster.

5. 9/11 Memorial

A number of members of the group had never been to New York before this trip and a larger number of those who had, this was their first opportunity to see the memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center site on 9/11. You can’t help but be awestruck as you first approach the sunken waterfall. Viewing the names that surround the memorial of those who died clearly communicates that this is hallowed ground. A lot of us shared where we were that fateful morning, how old we were and whether we knew anyone directly affected by the event. But the truth is, we were all affected. It was moving to be able to pay respects to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren who died too soon.

4. ESPN

Who wouldn’t be excited to visit the worldwide leader is sports television! Other than seeing and hearing from a few program alumni (Kelly Johnson, David Hobbie and Gil Beverly), I felt like the highlight of this visit was listening to Barry Blyn from ESPN’s consumer insights group. He spoke about the ESPN brand and how they strive to communicate that to viewers. “Sports with authority and personality.”

3. Madison Square Garden

The mecca of all NBA arenas. From top to bottom the arena is amazing and since it’s remodel in 2013 the premium seating options offer a lot of variety and are regularly sold out. Wait, but how good are the Knicks this year? Apparently that doesn’t matter because in a market like New York people  are willing to pay during a down year to hold on to their spot for a good year. Premium seating inventory expanded in two areas I wouldn’t expect. The first is the sky bridge seats. Almost unnoticeable from the court/ice, fans are able to watch the game from a catwalk-like platform that extends along both sidelines, so you are literally right over the action! The second is the suite bunkers located under the court/ice. That’s right, you can’t even see the live action from these suites! These bunker suites are custom built and are meant to provide a space where people can talk or conduct business in a quiet and private setting. They’re all sold, so I guess the “if you build it, they will come” mantra works at the Garden. Big thanks to Andy Renmeester for arranging the tour!

2. Galatioto Sports Partners

There are few individuals in the sports finance world that are so well connected that they know everyone personally and regularly play an integral role in team dispositions and acquisitions. Sal Galatioto is one of those individuals. To be honest, I don’t think there is a member of our group who really understood who Sal is and what he has accomplished. But that wasn’t the case when we left! He and his firm have consulted with and helped finance dozens of sports franchise transactions. Any sale of a team within the past 20 years, Sal was either involved or new specific details of the deal. However, it wasn’t his resume that impressed us the most and made our visit to his office so special. He is a great storyteller and the passion infused in his telling of the story communicated that this guy loves what he does and he has built relationships in the business by being true to who he is and taking risks. Stories like his are an inspiration to a bunch of MBA students who are anxious to make their own mark in the industry. Thanks for sitting back and telling us how it is, Sal! We’ll always remember your thoughts about MLS…

1. Spending time with the cohort and not having canceled flights

We spent eight unforgettable days in New York City visiting companies and meeting executives in the industry we love. Flights were on-time (enough) to get us where we needed to go and growing closer as a cohort outside of Eugene created memories that will last a lifetime. Here’s to our last experiential trip on this two-year roller coaster!

Written by Seth Bohne

Seth is a second year MBA in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He is planning to go into strategic planning and business development for a sports property or brand.

Talking Sports, Sales, and Basketball with Portland Trailblazers CEO & President Chris McGowan

Although the 2015 MBA’s at the University of Oregon are only two months into the two-year program, we have already been fortunate enough to hear from a number of influential and interesting people from within the sports industry. From the designer behind the Jordan brand to executives with teams, leagues, and sports/athletic companies, all have been very engaging and relevant. And this past week’s speaker, Portland Trailblazers President & CEO Chris McGowan, was no different. (Here’s a link to McGowan’s full bio from the Blazers website.)

The Blazers tipped off in Milwaukee just as McGowan started talking, but he made sure to stay up to date on the score of the game (Portland ended up winning by nine – 91-82 thanks largely to strong performances from LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard).

The Journey to Portland

McGowan, after an introduction from Portland’s VP of Corporate Communications Michael Lewellen, spent a brief amount of time discussing his career in the sports industry before diving right into a Q&A. A quick recap:

McGowan started off in the industry in 1996 with the Los Angeles Kings in their ticket sales department. At the time, he had recently graduated from University of Delaware (where he also played soccer). McGowan also spoke about the growth of AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) from then to present day. AEG is the parent company that owns the Kings, and over the past 16 years it has has developed into one of the largest sports and entertainment companies in the world. McGowan considered himself lucky to have spent the first 16 years of his career with a single organization, a rare feat for many in the industry.

The importance of strong ownership was a theme throughout the evening, from AEG’s owner Phil Anschutz to the Trailblazers owner Paul Allen. McGowan also specifically referenced Tim Leiweke, the former CEO of AEG and now the CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, an important mentor throughout his career.

Taking The Next Step

McGowan was in a great position as COO of AEG, but he wanted to take the next step in his career in the industry. He was also looking to get into basketball, as the NBA was a league that he had long admired. McGowan spoke on the passion that Oregonians had/have for the Trailblazers. But the organization needed a fresh voice, and the first year of McGowan’s tenure has been full of changes to almost every area within the organization.

McGowan has brought in the best and brightest new talent in business analytics, sales (particularly in ticket sales, where he got his start in LA), marketing, and human resources. He has motivated his people to think differently. The organization has invested heavily in digital upgrades, an area that needed significant improvement when he took over in 2012.

The Game Day Experience

One of the main focuses of McGowan’s efforts right now is on improving the game day experience at Trailblazer games. He commented that this was something that appeared to be missing when he took over, and he wanted to change it. The Portland Timbers of the MLS have done a phenomenal job of creating an ‘experience’ surrounding their home games, and as a soccer fan McGowan talked about how much he enjoyed taking part in these festivities.

The Trailblazers have a strong tradition in the city, and they are looking to blend that “Rip City” history with the future. The “Rip City” moniker is one of the most recognizable in professional sports, and it was originally coined by the team’s first play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely.

“The Schonz” originated the phrase “Rip City” after a Jim Barnett jumpshot ripped through the net on February 18, 1971. The phrase has taken off since then becoming synonymous with the city of Portland. During the 2009-10 season, the team unveiled specialty Rip City jerseys.

The team has put together several “Rip City” themed spots.

The Importance of Selling

Selling and sales were strong themes throughout McGowan’s Q&A with the MBA students. As he said, “doors open if you learn to sell.” Selling generates revenue, and after winning, revenue generation is the most important thing in professional sports.  McGowan started in ticket sales, but quickly moved through the ranks to suites and eventually sponsorships.

The challenges nowadays revolve around getting people to attend games instead of experiencing them at home, where they can watch commentary from former and current NBA greats. The at-home viewing experience has improved tremendously over the past five to 10 years (particularly with HDTV), and the pressure is now on teams to attract people to their games by improving the in-arena experience. McGowan specifically mentioned that fans have loved the new Portland-themed food and drink offerings at the Moda Center (for example, food and drink from local restaurants and craft breweries are now available at the concessions).

Wrapping It Up

The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center grants students incredible access to successful sports executives like McGowan. Being able to pick the brain of an NBA President & CEO on the details of the sports industry and specific challenges within his job is the exact reason many of us moved here from far away.

And after a year of change and transition, McGowan is very confident with where the Blazers are heading, both on the court and in the front office.

 

Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.

Warsaw Center Visits the NBA in NYC

Ameer Abdelaaty (WSMC, 2013) provides a recap of the Warsaw Center’s journey to NYC, and their meetings with NBA executives:

 

The highlight of the Warsaw Center New York trip every year has always been the day spent at the NBA offices, and this year was no different.  Donning every coat we could find to fit over our suits, we braved the sub-zero temperatures and trekked across Manhattan to the corporate headquarters near Rockefeller Center.

Heidi Ueberroth, the President of NBA International, welcomed us to the office.  Heidi told us all about the efforts the NBA was making to spread their brand throughout the world, and the successes of the international events they have had so far.  Her presentation was the perfect way to start off the day, getting us ready for the main event of the Dynamic duo Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.  Arguably the greatest sports commissioner of all time, David Stern commanded the attention of everyone in the room, and spoke candidly about his time as a commissioner coming to an end, and passing the torch to Adam next year.  It was an amazing privilege to potentially be the last class that gets to meet with him, and I can personally cross it off of my bucket list.

After we met with David and Adam, we got to speak to the Executive VP of Global Marketing Partnerships Mark Tatum who taught us more about the Global and National sponsorship partners.  Mark was very insightful, as well as was Laurel Richie, the President of the WNBA.  Very passionate and energetic, Laurel utilized our class as a focus group for ideas and thoughts about the new direction of the WNBA.  Chris Granger followed suit by explaining more about TEAMBO and the work he does in Marketing and Operations.  The level of sophistication and talent they are able to retain in that division is incredible, and they help the league rise to new heights.  Kathy Behrens and Todd Jacobsen finished off the meeting by speaking about NBA Cares and other CSR initiatives.

Overall, it was an incredible time at the NBA, and not just for those die-hard basketball fans like myself.  I can only hope that future trips have as much access to these influential executives, and get as much out of it as we did.  The NBA was my favorite stop on our trip, and I now understand why it is the cornerstone of the New York trip every year.

Warsaw Center & David Stern

Warsaw Sports MBA’s vist the NBA, David Stern in NYC

In anticipation of our Wednesday meeting with executives at the NBA’s 5th Avenue headquarters, the majority of the Warsaw crew made the judicious decision to pass up a late Tuesday night in NYC for much-needed rest.  We arrived in the morning looking impressively bright-eyed and alert, and were greeted first by NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.

Warsaw Center & David Stern

NBA Commissioner David Stern and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center

Discussion focused on the new CBA, competitive balance and the potential for a revenue-sharing business model in the coming years.  Although Stern postulated that revenue-sharing could once again bring up the possibility of small-market team contraction, NBA owners in the last week have reportedly initiated discussions to make it a reality (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/revenue-sharing-plan-taking-shape-143828186.html).  Stern also stated that the current 30-team alignment is working well and that the plan for the next decade is to “exploit the brand globally” by providing access to international audiences through the expansion of digital media.  After Stern and Silver left to attend to more pressing matters, we had the chance to meet with WNBA President Laurel Richie.  The Warsaw students took a keen interest in discussing the demographics of WNBA fans, and Ritchie explained that the league is focused on making the experience rewarding for all fans of basketball, not just for women and families.

 

WNBA President Laurel Richie and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center

Richie also mentioned that the two core points of differentiation for the WNBA are its accessibility and the purity of the game.  Next in the distinguished queue of executives was Chris Granger, the EVP of Team Marketing and Business Operations , or “TeamBo”.  Granger explained the NBA’s concept of “teamnet”, in which all 30 teams share ideas and best practices in order to create value for consumers in every market.  He, like Stern, iterated that management, not market size, was the primary determinant of team success.  Another interesting topic of conversation was dynamic food and beverage pricing, in which arenas equipped with digital menu boards are able to strategically modify concession prices at different times before or during the game.  In the cleanup spot was EVP of Production, Programming and Broadcasting, Danny Meiseles.  Meiseles discussed the NBA’s efforts to ensure production consistency across all its platforms and broadcasting partners, including TNT, ESPN and the Olympics.  Last up was EVP of Basketball Operations and former Duck, Stu Jackson.  Fearing fines or suspensions, we steered clear of the tougher questions, but managed to talk about the NBA’s increasing focus on data collection and analytics and how that will impact future business decisions.  For the Warsaw students, this was an unbelievable opportunity to meet some of the most influential people in sports.  Hopefully this great experience will lead to some of us being in their shoes someday soon.

 

– Tim Dobyns, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center MBA ’12

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.