in the NEWS

Exploring the Business of Sports

No question about it — sports today mean big business. Members of the Georgia Tech Business Network heard from a number of experts in the business of sports at the Network's December meeting.

The evening was kicked-off with a keynote speech from Wayne Luke, executive vice president of People and Organizational Development with the Atlanta Falcons. Luke began by comparing the similarities between the business and sports world, including the use of metaphors such as "team" and "coach." Sports customers, like any consumer, are looking for a quality product, Luke said.

"The Falcons are going through a catharsis, now that they are being run by a successful businessman [Arthur Blank]," said Luke. "You have to find out what people want and then deliver," he continued, noting, "Arthur listened intently when he started." Because of that, the Falcons have added 18,0000 more parking spaces and improved traffic flow around the Georgia Dome. They've also discounted ticket prices with the aim to fill the Dome, so that more games can be televised, allowing the team to build up a stronger fan base.

There are differences between sports and business, as well. Most notably, said Luke, is the pace. "The schedule is excruciating, and everything is played out in front of an audience, all of whom are experts."

After Luke spoke, his concepts were batted around by a panel moderated by Doug Konkel, editor of Georgia Sports Monthly and host of Friday Night Football and the Pigskin Review/Preview Show on 680 The Fan. Panelists included Evan Appel, vice president of Strategic Development for Career Sports Management, Inc.; Drew Barry, professional basketball player and former star Yellow Jacket point guard; Paul Connell, director of Marketing for BACE Motorsports; and Bob Herrfeldt, executive vice president of Horrow Sports Ventures.

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