Sports Management Skills

Imagine that you are the owner of a professional minor league football team in Cookeville, TN, called the, “Cookeville Eagles.” You are trying to build a better revenue venue to make your team fiscally stronger and to encourage and promote better attendance. As a result, you have decided to merge with the Tennessee Titans and play half of your game in Cookeville (using TTU’s stadium) and the other half in Nashville, TN (using the Titian’s stadium). Keep in mind, that your team is stationed in Cookeville, TN. The Titan’s owner and a few members of their executive board graduated from Tech and they desire to give back as alumni.

  1. List the five top stakeholders that you would involve upon this new endeavor.
  • Tennessee Titans athletic administration
  • City of Nashville – fans
  • Tennessee Tech University athletic administration
  • State of Tennessee – government
  • Putnam County residents
  1. Describe each stakeholder’s role, responsibility, and why they were selected to be involved in this process.

First, the Tennessee Titans athletic administration would have to agree with the merger for the Cookeville Eagles to play at the stadium. Since a few members of the executive board are Tennessee Tech graduates, they are proud of the city of Cookeville and probably want to see the city improve. Merging stadium contracts has the potential of bringing in more fans for the Cookeville Eagles. It is the Titan’s athletic administration’s responsibility to not only agree with the merging contract, but also provide some support for facility management, security, event staff, and sponsors for the Cookeville Eagles even though the Cookeville Eagles’ administration will have full responsibility of any executive decisions.

The City of Nashville, particularly the fans, are also on this endeavor. The goal of the merger is to promote to the fans and increase the fan base. When playing at Nissan Stadium, Cookeville fans can travel to Nashville to watch the Cookeville Eagles. However, when playing in Nashville, the surrounding fan base can grow based on how the Eagles are promoted to the city of Nashville. The City of Nashville is also responsible for paying for the tax dollars whenever the stadium is being used. Therefore, the fans that live in Nashville are somewhat invested in the Cookeville Eagles. The fans located in Nashville have a significant role during this process.

Tennessee Tech University athletic administration is considered one of the top stakeholders because of the facility management at TTU’s stadium (Tucker Stadium). As the leaders of Tucker Stadium, the facility staff, event staff, and marketing staff are responsible for the safety, well-being, and promotional offers of the fan base. The athletic administration, which includes the president of TTU, has a role in merging contracts due to Tucker Stadium being controlled by the university.

The State of Tennessee, specifically the government, is also an important stakeholder in this situation. The role of the Tennessee state government in this merger has everything to do with the taxes. Since Tucker Stadium is owned by Tennessee Tech and Tennessee Tech is publicly owned by the Tennessee government, the State of Tennessee has some fiscal responsibility to the Cookeville Eagles team since half of their home games are played in Tucker Stadium.

The final stakeholder is the citizens of Putnam County. Similar to the city of Nashville fans, the citizens of Putnam County are affected every time a home game is played in Cookeville. Traffic during games could affect the citizens of Cookeville especially since the fan population could increase in size from the merger. Local businesses are affected by the merger since more fans may be attending games. On the opposition, since half the home games are not located in Cookeville, this could have a potential drawback to the local businesses because the fans only attend half of the home games throughout a season. The residents of Putnam County would also have to travel further to attend a “home” game in Nashville which could be a deciding factor of not attending a game for the fans in Putnam County. The responsibility of Putnam County residents would be to support the Cookeville Eagles which may be difficult when the Eagles play a home game in Nashville. Putnam County residents are the most important stakeholder involved in the merging of stadiums since they are the majority of the fan base.

  1. As the owner of the “Cookeville Eagles” you will need to identify what type of leadership style you will execute to begin this process. As a result, list the four types of common leadership styles that are used by sport practitioners in the field of sport management.

As a beginning process, the type of leadership I would bring as the owner of the Cookeville Eagles is autocratic. The autocratic leader has the final say, instructs the employees of their duties, and keeps employees under close supervision (Lussier & Kimball, 2014, p. 376). Another type of leadership is democratic which involves encouraging employees to make their own decisions, working together with employees, while not providing close supervision (Lussier & Kimball, 2014, p. 376). Laissez-faire is a type of leadership that does not involve much input to employees while the employees make their own decisions without the leader following up (Lussier & Kimball, 2014, p. 376). Participative style is the fourth common type of leadership. Under this leadership, there is less direction provided to employees because they are highly capable of completing tasks while given encouragement from the participative leader (Lussier & Kimball, 2014, p. 389). Although decisions are often made between the leader and the employee, the participative leader rarely supervises (Lussier & Kimball, 2014, p. 389).

The beginning leadership style of owning the Cookeville Eagles for me is autocratic so I can visually see how tasks are performed to get an idea of work ethic of the administration. It would be difficult to start a leading role not using your own decisions. Therefore, I would trust my instincts and decision-making skills initially. Over time and after things settle down, I would change the leadership role to a participative style so the employees have a positive encouragement to complete tasks and make decisions on their own.

  1. As the owner, what type of leadership style would you demonstrate/incorporate, with the stakeholders, upon embarking this new endeavor? Discuss why you selected this type of leadership style.

I believe the democratic leadership style is the most beneficial when collaborating with the stakeholders. Encouraging surrounding ideas about decisions allows diversity within the organization which allows the democratic leader to make decisions while having several options. Instead of telling employees what to do, as a democratic leader, I would work closely with the stakeholders and keep an open mind about opportunities. For example, if the Cookeville Eagles decided to merge with Nissan Stadium and host half of the home games at both Tucker Stadium and Nissan Stadium, the opinions of the stakeholders previously mentioned would be strongly considered before making final decisions.

  1. Explain in detail what the SWOT analysis is and how it will affect both the Tennessee Titians and the Cookeville Eagles. BE SPECIFIC and VERY DETAILED with the SWOT analysis for this question. (Do not skip the four steps involved in the SWOT)

An important step in the decision-making of merging Tucker Stadium and Nissan Stadium is using the SWOT analysis. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are included in the analysis (Lussier & Kimball, 2014, p. 97). Assessing these four characteristics of a strategy are significant for the Titan’s and the Eagle’s environment internally and externally (Lussier & Kimball, 2014, p. 97).

When analyzing the strengths of the Titans-Eagles merger, one of them is essentially doubling the size of the fan base by using two cities because of the promotional and marketing schemes of the Cookeville Eagles. Since Nashville is a large metropolitan area, the economy greatly benefits from professional sports. According to research studied by Robert Wassmer, a professor in the Graduate Program in Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Sacremento, professional sports venues in downtown metropolitan areas provide greater economic benefits to largely populated areas.

“I must conclude by commending Nelson on his recognition from urban theory and, from the empirical evidence offered by Baade, that the strong possibility exists that a professional sports venue located downtown offers greater economic benefits to a metropolitan area than does one located elsewhere” (Wassmer, 2001, p. 270).

Nashville and surrounding area would benefit economically from a minor-league football team due to having two professional teams playing in the same stadium. More fans attending the games mean an increase in success for local businesses. Wassmer agrees in the same article, “Whether it is publicly or privately financed, a metropolitan area receives the same benefits from an arena or a stadium” (Wassmer, 2001, p. 267).

Opposing the strengths, weaknesses come with every strategy. One of the most influential weaknesses on merging two stadiums is the local tax dollars. “Perhaps most important to the calculation of an appropriate multiplier is the nearly always ignored fact that local public dollars used to finance a stadium or arena require an increase in local taxes or a decrease in local expenditure” (Wassmer, 2001, p. 267). Not only increasing local tax dollars, because Tucker Stadium is an entity of the state of Tennessee, but local Cookeville fans would have to travel to Nashville to watch a “home” game which may not interest the local fan much like increasing tax dollars. Whenever there is a home game in Cookeville, the local residents may also not like all the traffic that comes with an increased fan base, another drawback to increasing the fan base. Unfortunately, another weakness is that Cookeville is not considered a metropolitan area. Although Cookeville is expanding, the population size of the city is not comparable to that of Nashville. Therefore, Tucker Stadium may not draw as big of a crowd as it would a crowd in Nashville.

Of course, there are several opportunities to merging the two stadiums. If the merger is successful, the Cookeville Eagles could create enough revenue to build a bigger stadium in the city. If a new stadium is built, employment opportunities increase in the stadium. Although small increases in employment rates arise from a new stadium, larger increases are seen in local businesses because of the sporting event attraction (Wassmer, 2001, p. 267). “Regarding metropolitan-wide income increases that could occur from stadia, Mills, like most economists, stressed the importance of counting only spending that would not have occurred in the absence of the sports venue” (Wassmer, 2001, p. 267). Residents within the Cookeville area would also spend money on the athletic event instead of an event held outside the area. All these opportunities would result from earning more money from an increased fan base being involved in two cities. Along with the potential opportunity of building a new stadium is the potential of becoming a National Football League team which would be extraordinary for Cookeville.

An unfortunate side of merging two stadiums is the potential loss of fans from the city of Cookeville. Some local fans could view that the administration of the Cookeville Eagles may not see that Cookeville is a good enough city to host a minor-league football team. Fans could become discouraged the minor-league football team would even consider separating home games. Utilizing two cities as home field advantage could affect the community in a negative manner and discourage local and community involvement as was the opposite case for Manchester City in 2003 when they considered relocating the stadium because the ticket sales and fan attendance were declining (Edensor & Millington, 2008, p. 174). The threat was so severe to Manchester City’s soccer organization, instead of relocating the stadium, the marketing and promotional teams appealed to the die-hard, local fans by promoting detailed t-shirts that united the community (Edensor & Millington, 2008, p. 173). In the city of Cookeville, splitting half of the home games could be seen as a way for the Cookeville Eagles to leave Cookeville all together eventually. Another threat is that Nashville may not agree with the merger for the purposes of having Cookeville as a potential rival in the future. If the Cookeville Eagles succeed in rising to the NFL, the Tennessee Titans could lose fans to the rival, Cookeville Eagles since they are in the same state.

  1. Discuss and elaborate on why you are for or against the new minor league Cookeville Eagles team.

Knowing the city of Cookeville relies on the surrounding athletic teams and is highly involved in the community, a minor-league team would not benefit the city of Cookeville. Continuing with the merger of the two stadiums, I do not agree with either. Since Cookeville revolves around the integrity of the community, the weaknesses and threats outweigh the strengths and opportunities of a minor-league team in the city.

The best style of leadership beginning a team in Cookeville is autocratic even though eventually the leadership style would change to allow the employees to voice their opinions. Even though an autocratic leadership style would be the most beneficial for starting off a new professional team, I believe the people and surrounding community have the most important say in bringing a professional minor-league football team into Cookeville. Beginning a team is difficult especially in the city of Cookeville where community members show moderate support the university athletic teams. Because of the difficulty beginning a team and due to a lack of interest in the community football team for the university, it is not in the best interest for Cookeville to invest in a professional minor league football team.

  1. As with any new and old sport organization there are risked involved. As a result, you will need to define and explain what risk management entails(do not skip this part of the question). Locate a professional National Football League (NFL) court case associate with risk management. The court cases can focus on one of the following: crowd control safety as it relates to the law, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it relates to facility management, security issues at a professional event, or emergency medical preparedness. Reminder, the court case needs to be NFL related. The goal is to help you be proactive as the future owner of the “Cookeville Eagles.”

Risk management utilizes several resources within an organization to assess, control, and maintain a condition, object, or situation that potentially harms people (Fuller & Drawer, 2004, p. 349). The process of risk management requires prevention, communication, and a preparation by all parties involved including facility managers, medical staff, police, paramedics, athletes, event staff, players, managers, coaches, and even the fans. Managing potential risks in an athletic environment is an important detail for sports administrations to provide safety to stakeholders. Practicing emergency situations, correcting stadium ADA violations, and understanding crowd security or traffic control should be priorities for an athletic department every year.

Follow the format listed below:

  1. Ritchie v. National Football League, State of Hawaii

On September 18, 2013, Deb Ritchie (plaintiff) filed a claim in the First Circuit Court of the State of Hawaii against the National Football League (NFL) and the State of Hawaii (defendants). Ritchie claims the defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the rehabilitation Act, and state law claims based on Defendants’ denial for Ritchie to sit front-row during the 2013 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium.

  1. Share and explain the actual case

Both parties have filed motions against each other. The NFL and the State argue that Ritchie has no grounds for disability discrimination claims and did not establish any facts to support claims against ADA violations in Aloha Stadium. While the State sought partial summary judgment on Ritchie’s Rehabilitation Act claim because Aloha Stadium had received no federal funds, Ritchie sought a summary judgement for the NFL was responsible for all operation decisions in Aloha Stadium at the 2013 Pro Bowl.

The State owns and operates Aloha Stadium (page 3). During the 2013 Pro Bowl, the NFL and State denied Ritchie access to her ticket in a front row seat because she struggled with mobility and offered her to sit in the ADA accessible seats (page 3-4). Since the NFL was under license agreement with Stadium Authority, the NFL has the right to decide all operations of Aloha Stadium including security details, staffing decisions, (page 4-6). During the 2011 and 2012 Pro Bowls, Ritchie enjoyed attending the games with her family. She purchased ten tickets to the 2013 Pro Bowl with the intention of sitting in the front row. Before the 2013 Pro Bowl, Ritchie was in an accident that required her to be dependent on a wheelchair and crutches to move. She informed an NFL employee about her status and requested field access to get to her front seat since the wheelchair seating was “way up in the endzones” (page 8). The NFL responded by accommodating her with accessible seating in a different section and denied Ritchie field access.

After a series of emails between security personnel, the plaintiff, and the defendants, the NFL offered Ritchie the same priced seats in ADA accessible seating of the stadium (page 9). Ritchie met with the officials and informed them she would not give up her front row seat, would be able to access her seat with potential complications, and was still intending a field pass offer. The NFL was concerned that Ritchie’s presence in a non-ADA accessible area would be a risk for her and others around her. The defendants offered her a field passes during the practice day before the pro bowl if she complied with the stadium ADA regulations. Although the Stadium Authority encouraged Ritchie to use her accessible seats offered, they informed her they would not block her from going to her seat as long as she didn’t utilize the staff the get there. On game day, Ritchie’s wheelchair fails which resulted in her asking for assistance to get to her seat. The staff member obliged and gave her a wheelchair while assisting her to the seat. However, when the staff member learned that Ritchie was in the front row, he spoke with his superiors about the situation. Ritchie was allowed to sit in the seats if she could get to the seat on her own safely. With bystanders and other stadium authority, Ritchie was not able to make it to her seat without others noticing her off balance and at a high risk of falling yet she blamed her poor coordination on the staff not allowing her to move because they were so close to her. After the attempt of making it to her seat herself and being stopped by the stadium assistant to sit in the ADA accessible seating, Ritchie refused to comply with the stadium rules. If she didn’t comply, Ritchie was to be escorted out of the stadium. Ritchie complied and went to her accessible seat begrudgingly. In 2014, Ritchie purchased front row seats for the Pro Bowl again. She was able to make it to her seat with assistance from a person she brought with her which Ritchie claims would have happened in 2013 had staff members not been in her way. There is video evidence of Ritchie using an individual’s assistance while going down the stairs in 2014. Ritchie also has plans of attending several Pro Bowls for medical and personal reasons.

  1. State the problem

For Ritchie to have legitimate claims against the NFL, she had to prove that she suffered an injury, that the injury is related to the NFL’s actions, and the injury can be redressed by a decision in her favor. The problem is that Ritchie cannot trace the injury back to the NFL since Stadium Authority had control over the seating decisions and not the NFL. However, according to the license agreement, the NFL had the right to make all decisions regarding Aloha Stadium operations (page 25). Therefore, the NFL was denied its motion that Ritchie lacks standing regarding her disability. Because Ritchie was not allowed to sit in her original seat and the NFL did have control of seating arrangements, the summary judgment Ritchie had against state law claims was denied. The NFL also wanted assertion that all arguments they raised were equally applied to the State of Hawaii. This was denied since most the arguments applied to the NFL’s actions. Neither Ritchie or the NFL had appropriate claims against each other. Ritchie refused to take the ADA assigned seating offered to her as a compliment of not being allowed to sit in her purchased front row seat. Meanwhile, the NFL had no support for their claim against Ritchie having no standing of her disability.

  1. Share the verdict or final ruling in the case

The court denied all motions against both the plaintiff and defendant. However, both parties reached an agreement in that the NFL will not have authority over seating decisions at the 2016 Pro Bowl. Instead, Stadium Authority will have control over the seating decisions. With the motions being denied, Ritchie conceded her ADA claims against the NFL and the case was dismissed (page 19).

  1. State if you agree or disagree with the verdict, and why?

I agree with the outcome of the case. The NFL offered ADA accessible seating, which Ritchie took stubbornly after a hassle with a staff member, to accommodate a person with a disability. Even though the court case took time to conclude, the correct decision was made after the motions were brought up in the circuit court and denied in the State court. ADA accommodations were offered and accepted eventually, and the act was not violated by the NFL or Stadium Authority. On the contrary, the NFL did not have evidence for their motion against Ritchie having a lack of standing against disability discrimination.

  1. Imagine that you are the sport practitioner, what could have been done to prevent this case from occurring?

As a sports practitioner, this court case is a tough one to analyze because the NFL and the State of Hawaii did everything correct given the circumstances. Unfortunately for the defendants, Deb Ritchie was not compliant until during the Pro Bowl when she realized she was not able to get to her seat on her own. If a fan purchased front-row tickets in advance and suffered a disability unexpectedly, I would first offer ADA options to the best of my ability just how the NFL did in this scenario. For a while, the communication was back and forth between the two parties involved. The communication was detailed on both ends. The plaintiff was stubborn and did not want to give up her good view for ADA seating that may or may not have a better view. She was finding different ways for her to maintain her seating arrangement by trying to upgrade her accessibility to get to her seat even though that wasn’t the appropriate ADA regulation for the stadium. The opposition was being stubborn and did not want to offer a field pass where space was already limited and was not ADA regulated either. Through the emails back and forth, the parties remained firm on their positions and Ritchie was to sit in her front-row seat without assistance from the event staff or she would sit in the ADA seats offered to her.

Like the NFL in this case, I would have been concerned about how Ritchie was going to get to her seat as well. Not only did she have the potential to harm herself getting to her front-row seat, there was potential of putting others in danger as well. Even though I empathize with her disability, as a sports practitioner, I am thinking of the safety of those in the surrounding environment. I would have required her to take the ADA seating and not offer her to sit in her front-row seat. Instead, I would offer her the same seats for the following year as a compliment. The NFL worked very well with Ritchie. As a sports practitioner, I admire the communication and ability to assist Ritchie even though she did not cooperate entirely at the start. This court case was eye-opening for the future sports practitioner especially with the growing awareness for ADA guidelines in facilities.

References

Edensor, T., & Millington, S. (2008). ‘This is Our City’: branding football and local embeddedness. Global Networks, 8(2), 172-193.

Fuller, C., & Drawer, S. (2004). The application of risk management in sport. Sports Medicine, 34(6), 349-356.

Lussier, R. N., & Kimball, D. C. (2014). Applied sports management skills. (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Ritchie v. National Football League, Civ. No. 13-00525 JMS-BMK (D. Haw. June 20, 2016).

Wassmer, R. W. (2001). Metropolitan prosperity from major league sports in the CBD: Stadia               locations or just strength of the central city? A reply to Arthur C. Nelson. Economic Development Quarterly, 15(3), 266-271.