Via SportsBusiness Daily

Eric Sudol grew up in a town of 1,500 in the cornfields of Iowa, part of a family of teachers. He figured that was his calling when he went off to a tiny college in the state.

In one way, Sudol did become a teacher, teaching sales to his staff, first at the Memphis Grizzlies and now at the Dallas Cowboys and Legends, where he sells sponsorships for AT&T Stadium, The Star in Frisco, Texas, and the under-construction Raiders stadium in Las Vegas.

“I always tell our sales team, it’s the last three to five minutes” of a pitch that is most important, he said. Why? Because that’s when the salesperson should detect red flags and know whether it’s worth pursuing the prospect.

“A lot of salespeople fall for the false prisoner of hope,” Sudol said. Sales reps can get taken in by the flash of a project and not see caution in the responses that might not make follow-ups worthwhile. A lot of time is wasted on those follow-ups, he explained. “I have a lot of comfort in letting go.”

Sudol quickly let go of his plans to teach when he was exposed to college. A five-sport athlete in high school, he decided sports business was for him. Coming from small-town Iowa, that could mean one thing: becoming the athletic director of the University of Iowa.

He enrolled in a sports management program at Ohio University, and like undergraduate school before, it similarly opened his eyes to more jobs in sports business than just Iowa’s AD.

He cold-called the Grizzlies because of the high concentration of Ohio graduates there and secured a summer internship. The team hired him soon after and he’s been selling ever since.

Sudol doesn’t rule out one day returning to Iowa, but for now, he has some sales prospects to go meet — and just maybe not call back.

The Big Spur: Gamecocks Going Extra Mile To Enhance Fan Experience

Via The Big Spur/247Sports

The South Carolina athletics department announced last month that it is partnering with Legends, a group that specializes in planning, sales and hospitality with an emphasis in the realm of sports, to enhance the fan experience at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The first step was a survey asking for feedback to guide long-term decision-making for the future at the 80,000-plus seat venue. The goal is to develop ideas to make attending a Gamecocks football game a more attractive investment for the average fan and beyond.

The school has already pledged $21 million in work at Williams-Brice Stadium to be completed in 2020, which will predominately provide premium upgrade opportunities.

Legends is assisting with the already planned project, and going beyond that scope to design a plan to enhance the environment in the future.

“The challenge today is bringing in people to the ballpark and creating that type of environment, and also generate revenue to support your programs,” athletics director Ray Tanner told in a one-on-one interview.

“Legends is taking a look at (the $21 million project), plus the future to what we need to do to create a fan experience at the highest level. They’ve done some really big projects, and they’ve been contracted to take a look at Williams-Brice and things we can do to make the fan experience as good as it possibly can be.”

South Carolina is one of the few colleges to partner with a company like Legends.

The Dallas Cowboys, Manchester City, New York Yankees and Atlanta Falcons are just a few of the professional sports teams that have partnered with Legends to create case studies for their organizations. Legends is a company that has worked primarily with professional sports teams with collegiate clients including Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

“I think we probably are (going the extra mile) because nothing stays the same,” Tanner said. “You’re either moving forward or going backwards, and we want to continue to move forward. We think that our programs, as they compete in the SEC and nationally, we’re in a good place. You always want to get better, we’re in a good place, but you don’t stay there. You have to continue to make investments and resources, opportunities for student-athletes, and you’ve got your donors and fan base. It all works together. Legends is the best in the business in taking a view of things you can do going forward to create the ultimate fan experience and also generate revenue.”

One of the major pieces of contention among the fan base seems to be concessions for the average fans. Turning on the radio talk shows, clicking on message board posts and general conversation seems to indicate a lack of satisfaction with the process and quality of concessions.

Tanner has heard the complaints about concessions and while he didn’t bring in Legends specifically to address those issues, it is a topic to discuss.

“Its not directly related but is it on the list, absolutely,” Tanner said. “Points of sale, things you do and the way you handle concessions, all those things – self-serve, grab stations – you’re always looking to grow and do things. Will alcohol be a part of the future? When? Those things, you have to take a look at. It’s important to continue to make progress. You can’t stay in the same space you’re in.”

Tanner is certainly willing to admit that not everything is perfect when it comes to fan experience at Williams-Brice Stadium, and that’s why Legends is coming in to make game days for Carolina football a more enjoyable experience.

The school is going the extra mile to make sure its fans are content with their experience.

SportsBusiness Journal: Shelby Jordan Named Forty Under 40, Class Of 2019

Via SportsBusiness Journal

Shelby Jordan is an L.A. kind of guy. He grew up there and went to USC, where he played basketball.

And like other Hollywood stories, Jordan got his big break there.

“One of my dad’s good friends took me to a Lakers game, and we are sitting out on City View Terrace [restaurant] and he’s all like ‘I want to introduce you to somebody.’ It was Tim Leiweke,” said Jordan of the meeting in 2000 when he was a senior in college and realizing his basketball playing days were winding down.

After a little online research, Jordan learned that Leiweke was president and CEO of AEG at the time. “I literally peppered his assistant for the better part of three or four months. Phone calls, emails,” Jordan said.

That persistence turned into a meeting and a job with AEG.

Jordan shares a name with his father, a former NFL offensive lineman who won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Raiders and taught him the importance of humility and how success and personal development are enabled by others.

“At the end you may accomplish something, you may do something but usually not just because of you,” he said. “Someone along the way has helped you.”

While at AEG, Jordan worked on project management, financing and development of Dignity Health Sports Park, New York’s PlayStation Theater and hotel, entertainment, residential and other components of L.A. Live.

He moved to Legends in 2017 and was a senior project manager for LAFC’s $350 million Banc of California Stadium. He has been consulting on the new $150 million Class AAA baseball stadium in Las Vegas. It’s those L.A. projects and their economic impacts that appeal to Jordan.

“I’m doing something in my own backyard,” he said. “That’s really easy to get up and get motivated on a daily basis.”