Imagine being able to help stage a major event like a professional football game, having the chance to set up the many components that help it run seamlessly, resulting in tens of thousands of happy, well-entertained fans.
From popping the popcorn to waving an orange flag in the stadium parking — every job is important, and everybody has to start somewhere — and now students can get class credit for it.
This fall, Arizona State University students can earn events management credit for ringing up all those hot dogs and soft drinks for famished football fans during Arizona Cardinals games while learning about event operations from team officials and vendors.
There’s also a paycheck and an opportunity to work other events at State Farm Stadium, such as concerts, bowl games and Super Bowl 57 in February 2023.
Interested students do not have to be a tourism or a parks and recreation major.
Those who enroll in a three-credit ASU course next fall called PRM 494/487 will meet for every class at the stadium in Glendale, Arizona, home of the Cardinals, said Erin Schneiderman, the class instructor and a clinical assistant professor in the School of Community Resources and Development.
Fall registration begins Feb. 24.
The idea has its roots in a program the Cardinals began in fall 2021, in which college students worked in key stadium operations areas, such as food service and parking areas at games, Schneiderman said.
Cardinals Chief People Officer Shaun Mayo promoted the experience to students in the ASU Sports Business Association and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, many of whom were employed at the games, Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman asked Mayo if for next season, the students’ experience could become a for-credit class offered from August through December 2022, and also include the option of working the Dec. 31, 2022, Fiesta Bowl, as well as Super Bowl 57 on Feb. 12, 2023, both scheduled for State Farm Stadium.
The Cardinals said yes.
In addition to games, students will also be working at nearby Heritage at Sportsman’s Park. Located on the Great Lawn adjacent to the venue, Heritage is a full-service hospitality area that will operate not only on event days, but throughout the year as well.
Schneiderman said participating students will be thoroughly briefed at the start of the semester about what is expected of them.
“We’ll have orientation on the first day of school, so students know what they’re getting into before drop/add,” she said.
“The second orientation will be a Cardinals orientation, when team officials will talk about what’s important to them and make sure students have all the relevant information necessary for them to be successful,” Schneiderman said.
In addition to gaining experience and exposure to the various areas of event management, students will be interacting with key professionals and decision-makers in the industry.
Overall, though, Schneiderman said, “It will be a unique experience that’s not assignment heavy. The classroom is the stadium.”
Mayo said he had been hiring college students because, like many other businesses, the Cardinals were dealing with staffing shortages and needed to fill the many positions that make the stadium hum on game days.
“So we started to think creatively about something that was mutually beneficial, developing students and meeting the needs of the business,” Mayo said. “We looked at what assets we have that few organizations could offer students. That’s how it was born. We wanted to help develop students in their careers and meet staffing needs at the stadium.”
The new class is a continuation of that mutually beneficial relationship, Mayo said.
“The goal for me is to give them access to the various departments, behind the scenes,” he said. “Most people see us as the players and coaches on the field, but there are so many other people who make the game successful.”
Schneiderman said she hopes to set up similar arrangements with other event venues. Already, her students have been gaining experience at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and at NASCAR races at Phoenix Raceway.
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