There are two events coming up this month in which Rays fans, media, and other interested folks can chat with prominent Rays front office personnel.
On February 9th, the Tampa Bay Business Journal will be hosting the third annual 2016 Business of Sports. For $80, fans can hear from a panel that includes
- Tampa Bay Lightning CEO, Steve Griggs
- Abe Madkour, Editor-in-chief, SportsBusiness Journal “State of the Industry”
- Brian Ford, COO, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Brian Auld, President, Tampa Bay Rays
- Bill Abercrombie, Exec VP of Partnership/Suites Development, Tampa Bay Lightning
- Karri Zarimba, Founder, Venuetize
- Rob Higgins, Executive Director, Tampa Sports Commission
- Perry Van der Beck, Assistant GM, Tampa Bay Rowdies
- Marc LeSage, VP Sales, FOX Sports Florida
- Gary “Sheff” Sheffield, Retired MLB Outfielder
- Noah Pransky, Reporter, WTSP/CBS-10, and writer at Shadow of the Stadium
I went to this event last year and will probably go this year. Last year, there was no one from the Rays at the event. This year, there is no one from Minor League Baseball. But this year I will also have the opportunity to finally meet with Noah Pransky, which would be a good thing. Asking Gary Sheffield about his failed attempts to bring the Atlanta Braves to area might also be fun.
A few weeks later, on February 29th, the Poynter Institute is hosting a discussion with the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning and the co-chair of the Tampa Bay Bucs. For $75, members of the public can hear these front office personnel “discuss the business of professional sports before a gathering of the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and members of the general public.”
Even though the TBBJ event is $5 more expensive, it is probably the better deal. One, it comes with a ticket to a Lightning game. Two, there are more speakers and probably a better chance to network and ask questions. Three, there is probably little chance Rays owner Stu Sternberg would be willing to answer any questions I ask about the Rays perception of their market. Sternberg is too high up the organization chart to discuss my level of questioning. And even if he did, he would probably only give the political answer.
So if you go to the TBBJ event on February 9th, look for me and say hello.