SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - From Catawba College: Catawba College students in Management of Sport Facilities traveled in late February to uptown Charlotte for a field experience with the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Knights.
The students began the day at Bank of American Stadium where they were given an educational tour from Ryan Petrus, Panthers Director of Guest Relations and Security. Petrus explained the game day expectations for his department, which includes managing more than 600 employees for each NFL game.
One of the interesting facts gathered by students was realizing the importance that Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson placed in making the Charlotte franchise not just North Carolina's team, but a team for both Carolinas. In fact, dirt was brought to the stadium from every county in North and South Carolina and then spread across the playing surface before the first NFL game was played in Charlotte.
Through the students' private tour, they learned of recent renovations at the stadium, including new escalators, HD digital screens, Wi-Fi upgrades and club suites. Through it all, Petrus provided great insight into the sheer volume of precautions NFL teams undertake each week in creating both a memorable and safe experience for fans.
Following the morning session with the Carolina Panthers, the students walked a few blocks to BB&T Stadium, the home of the Charlotte Knights. The Knights are the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox and just completed their fourth season in uptown Charlotte. The move has been celebrated as a tremendous success, supported by the fact that the Knights have led all of minor league baseball in attendance in three out of the last four years.
In addition to touring the ballpark, Catawba Sport Management students were presented the opportunity to interact with Mark Smith, the Knights VP of Marketing. He detailed the transition of the franchise from Ft. Mill, S.C., to Uptown, elaborated on the business strategies implemented with corporate sales and suites, and identified non-baseball revenue the facility generates through rentals, partnerships, and staged events.
Catawba Associate Professor of Sport Management Duane Aagaard added, "We are thankful to our educational partners in the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Knights. Both Ryan Petrus and Mark Smith pulled the curtain back on their day to day responsibilities. They also shared their career path into the sport industry and elaborated on what they look for in candidates throughout the hiring process. I'm positive this is a day none of the students will forget."