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ASU special events students learn how stadium staffers get ready to play ball

Team executives, managers take class behind the scenes on ASU Night at the Diamondbacks

Group photo of ASU special events students at ASU Night at the Diamondbacks, 8/31/21
September 15, 2021

From purchasing a ticket and passing through the turnstiles to buying some peanuts and Cracker Jack — and maybe a couple of hot dogs and a souvenir — an enjoyable day at the ballpark depends on many hard-working people fans may never meet.

ASU students enrolled in PRM 427, Special Events Management for Revenue Generation, were able to meet the people in charge of staging a Major League Baseball game at Chase Field through a visit that gave them insight on how it is done. The gathering of students and experts resulted from a happy coincidence of time and place.

When Clinical Assistant Professor Erin Schneiderman realized that the Aug. 31 ASU Night at the Diamondbacks was taking place at the same time as her PRM 427 class, she knew it would provide students a great opportunity to get a firsthand look at everything that goes into hosting a home game. A crucial part of earning a Special Events Management Certificate, she said, is going beyond the classroom to gain hands-on experience at special events.

Derrick Hall, Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO, is an ASU alumnus. For more than five years, the team has partnered with the university to host the annual ASU Night, which includes discounted tickets for students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Schneiderman’s students heard from a career panel featuring top sports executives, enjoyed a special appearance from ASU President Michael Crow and were able to rub elbows with Sun Devils mascot Sparky and his Diamondbacks counterpart, D. Baxter the Bobcat.  

“I am excited to find out how it works behind the scenes … especially because it’s so big,” said ASU senior Jamie Espinoza. “I’m very big on organizing, so once it all just starts to fall together … it’s the best feeling.”

The class arrived before the game to meet with Cory Parsons, manager of fan experience; Mike Dellosa, vice president of ticket sales and service; and Tiffanie Tallman, corporate partnership sales representative. The three executives spoke about how they handled communications during the pandemic, the importance of networking and how the Diamondbacks’ strong ties to the community have helped them build their brand over more than 20 years. 

Tallman shared that the Diamondbacks sponsor Little League teams around the Valley, outfitting kids in various Diamondbacks jerseys. Along with being an excellent marketing strategy to create fans at an early age, the donated jerseys allow the teams to use their money for other expenses, such as new balls or bats. 

“Being able to give back to the community and do things like that is so important to us,” Tallman said. “That’s what keeps me coming back and working here and being proud to work for this organization.”

After talking to Parsons, Dellosa and Tallman, the students made their way over to a “Careers in Sports” panel hosted by the ASU Alumni Association, where five ASU alumni spoke about their experiences in the sports industry. Panel attendees even had a chance to pose for a picture with Sparky and D. Baxter.

“I love baseball and I love ASU, so I love how it blends together,” said Korrie Gernert, a School of Community Resources and Development faculty associate who is the team’s assistant director of events, career and professional development services. “I love the energy of having alumni come back and inspire future alumni to be able to do what they do.” 

Many volunteers were needed for the occasion, including students. Fernanda Garcia, a junior studying tourism development management and a volunteer for the event, said her favorite part of studying special events management is “the hands-on experiences that are offered. … Erin sends a lot of volunteer opportunities, and they’re always so much fun.” 

Immediately following the panel, the students embarked on a tour of the stadium hosted by Levy Restaurants, a company that specializes in food and beverage provisions to major entertainment and sports venues. Teams reach out to the company with specific requests for food or merchandise, and Levy Restaurants does its best to fulfill those requests. 

Levy Restaurants Vice President of Hospitality Strategy Keith Lagerstrom led the students through the stadium, explaining exactly how his company helps host all sorts of special events from baseball games and concerts to a dinner for 700 people right on the field. 

After the tour was over, the students were free to watch the game and cheer on the team along with their classmates. 

"Tonight, Chase Field became our classroom as our special event management students learned from top leadership at the Arizona Diamondbacks and Levy Restaurants," Schneiderman said. “My hope is that they left the experience with a deeper appreciation for the details and opened their eyes to the career possibilities that exist.”

Written by Amber Victoria Singer, a multimedia journalist for the ASU School of Community Resources and Development.