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Maine Business School hosts its first Sports Business Summit

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the MGT 490 Facility and Event Management Class held UMaine’s first-ever Sports Business summit. The event was a panel-styled speaker event that allowed attendees to hear from and network with sports business leaders from around the country. This year’s topics included sports marketing, an early career in sport management and a keynote panel focused on 50 years of Title IX and women in sports.

“The goal of the Maine Sports Business Summit was to educate, inspire and engage students as well as the UMaine community and the public on sport business topics,” Michael Nickerson, a student coordinator for the event, said.

The summit started with the school president, Joan Ferrini-Mundy, leading the conference via zoom call. She spoke about the importance of sports in the state of Maine and the impact of Black Bears’ sports as we are the only division 1 sports team in all of Maine.

In the first panel, we got to hear from three different speakers, the first of which being Allison Casiles, who is the Director of Promotions for the Portland Sea Dogs. One of the main skills she focused on was never underestimating your experience and skills. Notably the small things, such as always keeping a smile on your face, connecting with fans and always keeping a positive attitude no matter what.

Along with Casiles, we heard from the internship coordinator for the Keene Swamp Bats, Alex Gorham, who brought up the importance of time management not just throughout the workplace but also in learning the skills as students. 

The third person on the panel was Edward Youngblood, the director of athletic events for UMaine. Youngblood also stressed the importance of hands-on business modeling and leadership. 

The one thing that these three stressed more than anything though is to take every advantage you can, big or small, to advance your career. The more connections you can build when you are young the better the chances of getting work opportunities, as the job field is all about who you are connected with and how to use those connections to your advantage. 

“Don’t bank on finding a job in your hometown or state. Be able to go out and get experience and meet people,” Casiles said. 

Also in attendance was Sheila Brennan Nee, the director of the Maine Sports Commission. One of the main driving points she emphasized is knowing how to sell what you have to the best of your ability. 

This plays a factor in her work as she is part of a group trying to get a pro soccer team in Portland and she uses Maine’s natural uniqueness to her advantage as the selling point.

Along with Nee, we got to hear from Travis Misner, who is a corporate partnership and sales executive for the Carolina Panthers & Charlotte FC. Unlike the rest, who are part of small teams or a school, he is directly involved with a major sports market in Charlotte and has been a major factor in helping Charlotte reach that point. As someone who was a major factor in getting a soccer team in Charlotte, he talked about how marketing to certain brands can play a major role in success. As he stated, only 8% of fans are both Panthers and FC fans, while Charlotte FC is the most attended club out of any MLS team due in large part of knowing how to sell it.

Logan Desmond, who is the Interim Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations at UMaine, was also present at the summit. His biggest advice that he had wished he would have known when he was a student, was knowing how working in sports could be a career, not just a hobby. In the job field, the biggest advice he had to offer was to know how to advertise for the specific audience you want and use the growing platform of social media to your advantage in order to advertise.

The summit ended up being very successful, with around 100 people attending it, and the speakers were able to get the message across well and precisely. Hopefully, this can become a yearly event.

“Our hope is that the event gains more traction each year and becomes a staple in the Maine Business School,” Nickerson said.

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