More Than Just a Football Town: Professional Sports and University Students Collaborating on Research-driven Revenue Enhancement

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Laurel Traynowicz


Both college and professional sports are big business. While a sport like college football serves as a vital part of a university’s identity, many college towns are also home to one or more professional sport teams that may be less well known. The current study focused on two professional sports—hockey and basketball—in a city commonly known as a football town. Both professional hockey and basketball have the infrastructure to pull in far greater dollar amounts than an NCAA Division I football team. When those sports are considered “minor league,” such as in this study, revenue becomes an organizational survival issue and the teams’ owners have to look harder for money flow. That search for revenue must occur locally because 80% of minor league teams’ revenue is drawn from local sources such as tickets, luxury suites, television and advertising (Ozanian, 2015). Owners know they depend on the degree to which local fans are engaged with the team and its brand. Twenty students and a faculty sponsor extended their research classroom to the downtown playing court, and in doing so experienced meaningful engagement with the community, real-world analysis, and problem-solving in a collaborative structure with professional clients who valued the research-driven approach to a revenue-enhancement plan. Students further gained valuable experience working with real consequences, learned how to design and conduct research, came out of their comfort zones in order to engage numerous community members in research interviews, and simultaneously learned the value of doing all of this while serving as unofficially-appointed ambassadors for the local university. Further, the students and faculty member served as exemplars of the university’s statement of shared values: Academic excellence, caring, citizenship, respect, fairness, trustworthiness and responsibility. The resulting value to all involved? Priceless.

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