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Ballpark Experience is a Hit with Sport Management Students [08/07/2017]


Sport Management marketing students with Dr. Jeff Petersen (far left) and Round Rock Express general manager Tim Jackson (far right) at Dell Diamond

Graduate students in Baylor School of Education’s (SOE) Sport Management program joined the roar of a Dell Diamond stadium crowd with cheers and claps as they enjoyed a game of the Round Rock Express minor league. But they weren’t there for the baseball action; they were there to see sports marketing in action. As the sweltering Texas sun finally sank over the horizon, Dr. Jeff Petersen’s marketing class settled in for the Triple-A game, ending a full afternoon visit to the stadium, where the students met with sports marketing professionals and toured Dell Diamond — all facilitated by Round Rock Express General Manager Tim Jackson, BA ’08, MSEd ’09, graduate of the Sport Management Program.

“The biggest thing is just getting [students] exposure,” said Petersen, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership. “We do this summer trip where we come here and get an immersive experience by visiting with the front office staff, touring the facility from a marketing perspective, and then watching some of the marketing happen.” Petersen has been taking his sports marketing classes to Dell Diamond for five years.

Each year, Petersen’s students have the chance to speak with marketing professionals. The Round Rock Express marketing panel for this trip included Jackson; Stu Scally, the director of ticket sales; Jill Cacic, vice president of public relations and communications; Cassidy MacQuarrie, manager of community relations; and Laura Fragoso, senior vice president of marketing.

The sport management students jotted notes and asked questions as the panelists shared their career journeys, explained a typical day at Dell Diamond, and discussed the ever-evolving field of sports marketing in minor league baseball.

Round Rock Express general manager Tim Jackson, BA ’08, MSEd ’09Conversation especially focused on the challenge of marketing minor league players. Because Round Rock Express players belong to the Texas Rangers, the players can be called up into the major leagues at any time — even hours before a minor league game.

Instead of using players and statistics as their primary marketing platform, the professionals concentrate on marketing the experience of the baseball game.

“We control the things we can control, and we don’t focus on the things we can’t,” Jackson said. “In the minor league, it’s all about the fan experience. In the three hours you’re here, we’re going to pack as much experience into your time as we can.”

While many students are exposed to major league marketing through television coverage, minor league marketing strategies may be lesser known. Listening to the panelists offered students an inside scoop into a different perspective on sports marketing.

“I want to work in sport management, and a lot of what they’re talking about and doing is exactly right,” said sport management graduate student Amy Gaston. “It’s about creating a moment that’s significant for the consumer — something they’ll remember and want to come back and recreate.”

The panelists also highlighted how technology has changed communication with consumers.

“We are our own news source,” said Cacic, who has worked in minor league public relations for over four years. “We break our own news, and we get our own information out there through a ton of digital media — whether it’s the website, social media or email newsletters.”

Following the discussion, students and panelists networked and mingled. Jackson then led a stadium tour, explaining marketing tools, signage, promos and campaigns — even the food service promotions — implemented throughout the stadium. As Jackson also led students through the media box and control center of Dell Diamond — owned by Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan — he explained Ryan’s lasting influence on the message of the stadium.

Jackson said, “When Ryan is here, it’s all about the baseball.”

The students wrapped up their visit by staying for an evening game and watching the sports marketing lessons they learned in action.

As Gaston prepares to begin her second year in Baylor’s Sport Management Program, she believes the trip will be great preparation for her future career. She said, “We do a lot of panel discussions with Dr. Petersen’s class, and he does a great job bringing in real-life practitioners. There’s only so much you can learn in class, so it’s nice to hear from people that are ‘in the trenches,’ living it every day. It’s also nice that [Jackson] is a program alum, so he understands where we’re coming from and the uniqueness that is Baylor Sport Management.”

— by Molly Meeker

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Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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