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RECENT PLACEMENT: Jeff Spencer – Americrown & International Speedway Corporation

 

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Prodigy Sports is pleased to announce the recent placement of Jeff Spencer as Senior Director, Catering for Americrown/International Speedway Corporation based out of the corporate headquarters in Daytona Beach.

Jeff formerly served as Aramark’s Food Service Director at Florida State University (FSU), his second stint with FSU.  He previously served as General Manager for Aramark Sports Higher Education at FSU earlier in his career for four years.  In between those stints, he spent just over a year as General Manager for Aramark’s Florida Gulf Coast University and was a key player in their effort to stabilize the property and be part of the bid process.

In his new role with the Americrown and International Speedway Corporation, Spencer will work with the Corporate Executive Chef and venue leadership to design and execute high quality presentations, exceed client expectations while maximizing revenue, and controlling expenses to grow margins. He will also be responsible for the future planning, day-to-day activities, and financial analysis of global Premium Services operation.

About Americrown and International Speedway Corporation

International Speedway Corporation, (“ISC”) founded in 1953, is a leading promoter of motorsports-themed entertainment activities in the United States. The company owns and/or operates 13 of the nation’s premier motorsports entertainment facilities, which in total, have approximately 900,000 grandstand seats and 500 suites. ISC’s facilities are located in six of the nation’s top 13 media markets and nearly 80 percent of the country’s population is located within the primary trading areas of its facilities. ISC promotes major motorsports events in every month of the racing season — more than any other motorsports promoter. Collectively, the company’s facilities promote well over 100 motorsports events during the racing season.

Americrown, a subsidiary of International Speedway Corporation, was formed in 1989. It is the leader in motorsports catering, concessions and merchandise sales and service. Operating at 12 NASCAR and IndyCar-sanctioned tracks nationwide, Americrown touches millions of race fans annually. Its ever-growing fleet of mobile food concessions, merchandise and catering equipment is unparalleled in the industry.

Prodigy Sports welcomes Jeff Spencer to Americrown and ISC! 

To see the full description of this placement with Americrown and ISC, visit http://bit.ly/2fIOYvb

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Prodigy Sports Infographic

Prodigy Sports differentiates itself with experience. We know successful executive recruiting comes from thoroughly understanding the organization’s culture, the sports and entertainment business and the extensive professional qualifications needed to fill a role.  Throughout the years, Prodigy Sports has placed a variety of functions and roles within organizations, representing all disciplines.

We are pleased to share our newest graph that details our thorough search process, our recent successes, and our company overall, which we strongly believe differentiates us from all others.

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INTERVIEW: Bill Nielsen- Senior Vice President – Fan Manager/ Raptor Ventures

By: Brian Clapp, Director of Content, WorkInSports.com

The San Antonio Spurs while on their path to five NBA titles in 16 years, have been guided by one of the most iconic leaders in sports. With a personality that is best described as gruff, Gregg Popovich appears to be the embodiment of the old guard, a coach teaching the game as James Naismith and Norman Dale would have wanted.Reality and perception don’t always mix.Bill NielsenIn reality, Popovich could be considered a leader of the analytics revolution in the NBA, meshing his coaching chops with deep statistical analysis to develop aorganizational philosophy and process to get the most efficient response from his players. For example, the Spurs altered their offense to rely on the corner three after they determined through data analysis it was the most efficient shot in the game. Thy were also one of the first teams to embrace SportVu camera technology to track player movements during games and use GPS technology to monitor activity in practice and chart exertion.

In sports, analytics aren’t just the fodder for a Brad Pitt movie, they are a winning formula embraced by a vast majority of teams across all leagues. But the data mining revolution isn’t limited to the court, field or arena, the analytics action happens off the court too.

“Moneyball certainly opened a lot of public eyes to the use of analytics in sports,” says Bill Nielsen, SVP of Sales at FanManager.com. “But that’s on the player side. On the business side, there is atangible effort from properties to professionalize their analytics chops and this is really just in the last 3-5 years. The opportunity for platforms like Fan Manager to fill up the toolbox for these professionals is significant.”

Fan Manager uses analytics in a different manner, they don’t care about on base percentage or wins above replacement, but they do care about the data they can collect from a team’s fan base and use it to turn the extra layers of knowledge into revenue.

“Teams sell tickets, sell merchandise and have social followers – but how many social followers that live close to the venue also bought a ticket?” ponders Nielsen. “Fan Manager answers those questions and does so via an elegant and easy-to-use interface so teams can segment, better understand and target those consumers.”

raptor_venturesThere is great power that comes from understanding an organizations fan base. The goal of successful sports franchises isn’t just to win games, it’s to increase revenue and Fan Manger helps teams accomplish this goal.

“We are well positioned to help properties with however they want to identify and monetize their fans,” says Nielsen. “Selling tickets is the most obvious path but if a team wants to also focus on selling more merchandise, incentivizing social influencers to attend non-game events or getting more kids to off-season camps, for example, we can do that as well.”

Let’s say you are the Washington Capitals, and you have knowledge of fans in the area who buy your merchandise but don’t buy tickets. You know they are fans enough to buy merchandise – how hard would it be to turn them into ticket buyers? Armed with this information, you could offer these local fans deals on tickets and turn them into game day participants.

Or maybe you are the Boston Celtics, and you are looking to sell some arena sponsorship. As you approach potential partners wouldn’t it be beneficial to be armed with deep data on how your fan base directly correlates with a potential sponsor’s business?

These are just a few of the ways successful teams are optimizing their business and activating their fan base with Fan Manager.Fan-Manager

“We are using Fan Manager to sell unsold tickets on game day. Our understanding of our fan base is helping us appeal to new sponsors, ” Kara Hutchinson, Director of Strategic Marketing Boston Celtics.

“Assisting with potential sponsorship deals is a key priority for Fan Manager,” informs Nielsen. “We bring together all of the third party data the property uses specifically for corporate partners and combine that with fan records to provide a compelling view of real fans to current and potential sponsors.”

Just like teams have embraced analytics on the field of play, so too have they wrapped their arms around the potential of analytics in team operations, sales, marketing and e-commerce. With a roster of clients that includes teams in the NBA, NHL, NFL and Serie A, Fan Manager is leading the way in business intelligence and marketing automation for fan-based organizations.

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INTERVIEW: Joe Greene – Vice President, Sales & Marketing – Waterloo Black Hawks

By: Brian Clapp, Director of Content, WorkInSports.com

There is a certain romanticism to junior league hockey.

In the juniors, performance isn’t tied to money or fame, instead, the athletes play for hope. Hope for their own future and hope for the community of the small city they represent.

The United States Hockey League (USHL) is comprised of amateur athletes under age 20 preparing for their professional life by travelling small cities across the Midwest and competing against other highly skilled amateurs. They battle in places like Fargo, Lincoln and Sioux City, where their games are the major event in town, or any surrounding towns.

The local community, a tight-knit group leading similar struggles, bands together in support of their team, taking great pride and ownership of the product before them.

The fans have hope too – they want to see the future stars perform and know them before they had top-selling jerseys. They look forward to the day they can tell their kids, ‘I saw T.J. Oshie play for Sioux City back in 2005’ or ‘Jack Eichel signed my jersey after Team USA came to play in Cedar Rapids.’

It is this undeniable draw of hometown sports that has kept Joe Greene, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Waterloo Black Hawks, in the lower leagues.

“While I’ve had opportunities in the NBA anWaterloo_Black_Hawks_Logo.svg_d NHL over the course of my career, I love what I do at this level. It offers me the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the business. Whether its ticket sales, corporate sales, merchandise, marketing or providing leadership and guidance to help further the growth of our employees, every single day is unique,” remarks Greene.

To this point Greene has opted for a life in the minor and junior leagues having worked for the Wichita Thunder, Missouri Mavericks and Dayton Gems before signing on with Waterloo. In the NHL or other professional leagues, employees often have very specific roles and regimented routines, while in the minors, Greene thrives on the changing nature of each day.

“I take a lot of pride in the fact that I started at the bottom of the ladder and have worked my way up in this business,” recalls Greene.

“I’ve been the mascot, picked up concessions, and have pulled the tarp during a rainstorm. Those experiences aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when you dream of working in sports, but they’ve shaped who I am and I can relate to the people that are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. Versatility is a key ingredient to increasing your value in this business, especially at this level.”

Versatility isn’t the only key to success in the junior leagues, creativity is a necessity as well. While NHL teams get by on their brand name, star players and world class arenas, junior league teams have to try harder to attract the fans to the game.

“In addition to work ethic and teamwork, creativity is a key component at this level. In a recent fan experience survey we conducted, having ‘too many other things to do’ was the number one response when we asked attendees why they don’t attend more games.

“It’s our job to give them reasons to come back more often and that takes a daily commitment to creativity. Identifying unique ticket package opportunities, introducing new beneJoe Greenefits, and designing theme nights to attract new fans all force you to think differently.”

Theme nights can create a lasting impression amongst the fan base, and a good game experience can go great lengths to getting the community to return to the ice for the next game, but often it’s the grassroots community relations that make the difference in minor and junior league sports.

Being visible as a team and as individuals, sharing your story and getting involved in the daily events that shape a community make all the difference.

“In this career, you live it every hour of every day,” informs Greene. If you’re at the grocery store and someone asks about the logo, that’s an opportunity to share our story.

“Building those one-on-one relationships is a full-time job for everyone in our organization. I still keep in touch with fans and corporate partners that I’ve met during my career in all of the markets I’ve worked in. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people in this industry who’ve shared the same commitment to customer service and community relations. When your owners, coaches, and staff members all buy-in to a strong commitment to community relations, the results are tremendous.”

And while the major sports teams may be the game everyone flocks to, when you break from the pack and head down to the juniors you remember what is so great and so pure about sports. The competition, the fire, the passion and the unabashed love of the game.

The same holds true when you work in juniors, your passion for the game is obvious.

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INTERVIEW: Randy Prasse – Senior Director of Operations – Churchill Downs

By: Brian Clapp, Director of Content, WorkInSports.com

When Randy Prasse became the Senior Director of Operations at Churchill Downs Race Track, he realized he’d have to balance his innate desire to innovate with a respect for tradition.51930be94498e.image

“The Kentucky Derby has run every year since 1875—142 years—without me,” humbly admits Prasse. “That said, I have been asked numerous times by the top leadership at the track to draw upon my experience to help develop an approach that incorporates industry best practices and creates an enjoyable and unforgettable experience for our guests.”

Prasse is comfortable running events both large and small, having been the CEO of the Wisconsin State Fair, an 11-day long event with over 1 million people attending, and the Gettysburg BrewFest, held in a city with just 6,000.

The Kentucky Derby sits somewhere in the middle, with an estimated 165,000 people attending the annual run for the roses.

“There is certainly a ton of history and tradition for this event and throughout the venue. That said, we are constantly building and renovating—and innovating—to ensure Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby are on the leading edge when you think of the leading venues and events in the world.”

Most see the Derby as a fast-paced two minute race highlighted by a bellowing “down the stretch” call, multiple mint juleps and astonishing hats, but for Prasse creating the ultimate fan experience takes much more than two minutes.

“I was brought aboard to support the Operations team—including the Vice President of Operations (Greg Bush) who has been here for over 25 years. There is so much institutional knowledge in his head—that he just instinctively knows—that my role is to extract that information and “put it on paper” in the form of updated and usable operations manuals, echurchilldowns-300x71tc.”

 

“I manage the temporary build-out of all suites, tents, and perimeter fencing. Additionally, I oversee the seasonal guest services and overall security functions. So, you could say, much of the interaction between staff and the guest is my responsibility—the all-important “guest experience”.

Planning and execution for an event of this size is a year round project, including the creation of a temporary city that is built for the two days of racing at Churchill Downs; the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, featuring 3-year old fillies (female horses), and the Derby on Saturday, featuring 3-year old thoroughbreds (male horses).

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And even with an event so rich in tradition, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. For Prasse, even with months of preparation, there is no guarantee of a good night’s sleep in the weeks leading up to the big race.

“Weather is the thing that keeps everyone up at night, and the one thing we can’t manage,” says Prasse. “Of course, I am always concerned with venue security and guest safety. The end product must be a fun and unique experience  for our guests.”

Security also falls under the purview of Prasse, which bears the most importance of them all, especially after recent history has shown major events and locations to be vulnerable.

“Obviously, the world changed on 9/11/2001. It has changed again with each mass shooting or Boston Marathon-type bombing. We consider and plan for so many new and different threats these days. We limit what people can carry-in; what they can wear; where they can go once inside the venue.”

“Emergency Action Planning is paramount—you don’t plan to fail but you do fail to plan. The ‘see something / say something’ public awareness program is critical—it literally turns all 165,000 sets of eyes into an extension of our public safety team.”

This year, and in future years, as you watch the fastest 2 minutes in sports, think of Prasse and pray for sunny skies, respectful crowds and a perfect rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home”.

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