Southern Miss Athletic Management Collaborates with the Mississippi Braves
A collaboration between the University of Southern Mississippi Sports Management Program and the Mississippi Braves saw students in a sports marketing graduate class assist the minor league baseball organization in planning future of sports marketing.
Dr. Chris Croft, assistant professor of sports management, coordinated the event during the recent fall semester with Mississippi Braves leaders Zach Evans and Jeff Olson. Evans is the stadium’s director of operations, while Olson is the Braves’ ticket manager and an alumnus of USM sports management.
“We strive to collaborate with sports organizations and incorporate experiential learning opportunities for our students,” Croft said. “Due to the shutdown of the minor league baseball season last summer and the loss of financial revenue, I thought it would be beneficial to try and help out one of the regional teams. We are very grateful for the opportunity and advice from Zach and Jeff on the project. It was an extremely valuable learning experience for our students to be able to apply sports marketing content from class and create in-season and off-season events to generate revenue for the M-Braves.
Evans and Olson hosted a training session for the online course that included the history of the organization, recapped the challenges of summer 2020 and the financial impact, and the need to increase opportunities to attract fans at the Trustmark Park stadium in the near future.
“This is our second time working with the Southern Miss Sports Management Department and it’s been a blessing to us every year,” Evans said. “We have used several ideas from the projects in the past and have had success using them in our ballpark and during our games. I hope the project will help every student to become as creative as possible. In the world we live in, no idea can be ruled out about what might be successful. Creativity is what powers minor league baseball.
Students worked as part of a group project to create in-season and off-season events to raise awareness and awareness of the M-Braves, attract fans to Trustmark Park, and increase additional financial revenue non-baseball related for the organization. Students were tasked with creating mini-marketing plans for all events on methods to reach the target market, including applicable social media ideas and/or hashtags through their current social media platforms.
Additionally, COVID-19 protocols and plans related to specific events have been provided due to the unknown end of the pandemic.
“Hopefully minor league baseball will return to normal next summer, but regardless, these organizations need new ideas to continue using their facilities and resources to attract fans and generate revenue. money,” Croft said.
Olson noted that the relationship between USM sports management graduates and the Mississippi Braves is vital and helps cultivate ideas and education in the ever-changing marketplace that is the sports industry.