As an experiential learning opportunity, Eric Stoller, assistant professor of sport and event management, invites his Revenue Streams and Sales class to participate in the Cleveland Indians College Ticket Sales Program each year. This year, junior Jacob Hanzlik, who’s studying sports business strategy and marketing management, threw the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians v. Detroit Tigers game on April 12 as a result of becoming the top salesperson in the program.
Not only did Hanzlik beat his fellow classmates in the competition, his efforts allowed the University of Findlay to rise above the other competing universities including: Baldwin Wallace University, Kent State University and Tiffin University.
An Indians fan himself, Hanzlik credited the University for preparing him to be successful in the competition. “The University taught me how to talk to customers and to really understand the product I was selling,” he explained. “Yes, I was selling tickets to the Indians game, but I was also selling the experience of going to downtown Cleveland and all the other things Cleveland and the surrounding area has to offer.”
The program began for Stoller’s small class of six students in January when an Indians executive came to campus to teach the process of a salesperson, followed by a tour of the stadium and networking opportunity with the Indians in February. From there, each student sold tickets for the May 25 Indians v. Houston Astros game. After Hanzlik sold the most tickets among his classmates, he joined forces with his classmate Nick Kopylec, which gave them the highest team sales in the program.
Out of all competing universities, the top four teams were invited to present in front of the Indians’ front office staff about how they approached the ticket sales and what worked well. In addition, the very top sales person was awarded by getting to throw the first pitch. For Hanzlik, the experience of the competition was even more rewarding.
“This project benefited me in so many ways. The biggest way is that I have a better understanding of what I want to do after I graduate,” Hanzlik explained. “My dream is to work for a sports team and after this project I have really narrowed down what field I am really interested in.”
Hanzlik never thought he would have the opportunity to throw a first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, but he does believe “if you are passionate about something and have the right opportunity like the opportunities at the University of Findlay, anything is really possible.”