Last Friday I had the opportunity to to hear Otto Klein speak to a group of sport management students at the career fair. Klein, the senior vice president of the Spokane Indians baseball team, gave a thorough presentation (the most engaging of the three I attended) on the benefits of working within the MiLB (Minor League Baseball).
For many sport management students, working for a professional sports organization is the ultimate dream. However, these leagues (MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA) only have 30-32 teams and jobs aren’t easy to come by, especially for a college graduate looking for an entry-level position. Klein acknowledge this but then mentioned that in minor league baseball alone there are over 160 teams ranging from short-season A ball (what the Indians are) to Triple-A, making it much more manageable for a college graduate to earn employment with a team the summer after graduating.
The Indians offer several internships each summer during the season and typically hire five interns for the next season. Klein broke down the duties of an intern into two area: tickets and sponsorships. Interns will either work with the ticketing department to help sell tickets to individuals, businesses, and groups throughout the course of the season while sponsorship interns will help secure sponsors for certain promotional nights and events at Avista Stadium.
What makes Klein’s job easy is that the Indians are an affiliate of the Texas Rangers, meaning the Indians aren’t responsible for player salaries as those are paid directly from the Rangers organization itself. Because of that, the Indians pride themselves on providing cheap, family-friendly entertainment throughout the course of the summer for Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho residents. With the money saved from not being responsible for paying the players, the Indians are able to create fun promotional game such as bobblehead night and firework nights, along with a plethora of other events.
As somebody who spent a summer working for a collegiate summer baseball league, I understand the importance of marketing these promotional events. I’d argue that the game result itself isn’t as important compared to the environment created at the ballpark. While some fans could care less about the promotions and are baseball diehards, these events help draw casual fans and even non-fans which helps get more people in the seats and earn a bigger profit.
Another huge draw to minor league baseball is the chance to see up and coming superstars before they make it to the big leagues. Although players in short-season A ball are still several years away from making it to MLB, there are still players who begin their “professional” ball experience. For the Rangers, players like Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo came to play for the Indians right after being drafted and/or signed.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed Klein’s presentation. I went to two other presentations that followed (UREC & WIAA + HS athletics) and neither of them were as engaging or interesting as Klein’s. I’m thankful the College of Education provided this opportunity for sport management students.