Today was a fantastic inside look into baseball for me, as I was able to interview Sean Flynn, the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Event Booking for the Miami Marlins. Baseball is America’s past-time, and it was incredibly interesting to hear about the inner workings of how a Major League team operates.
Sean talks about how he worked his way up to the position he currently holds, how the Marlins re-branded themselves, and what he sees as their competitive advantages. Sean attended St. Thomas University graduate school after receiving his undergraduate degree in accounting, and worked for the Tampa Bay Lighting before making the jump to the Florida, then Miami, Marlins.
Sean strongly believes that passion is the driving force towards being successful, which he points out multiple times. Sean is incredibly passionate about what he does, which is why the Marlins were able to successfully sell tickets last year to both Florida Marlins games, as well as future Miami Marlins games. His workload comes with an enormous amount of tasks that need to be completed, but one look at Sean’s background and prior works instantly shows that he is capable of handling such a tremendous amount of responsibility.
During the interview, Sean and I discussed:
- How he was able to rise through the ranks and become the SVP of Marketing and Event Booking for the Marlins
- The difference between working for a baseball team as opposed to other sports teams
- The re-branding of the Marlins as they transitioned from Florida to Miami
- Sean’s recommendation for breaking in, as well as being successful, in the field of sports business
Transcription from Sean Flynn Interview
Lucas Biebelberg: Hello everyone, and thanks again for joining us today on sportsnetworker.com. Today I’m very happy to be joined by Sean Flynn, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Event Booking for the Miami Marlins. Sean, how are you today?
Sean Flynn: Doing great, thanks for having me!
Lucas Biebelberg: Let’s jump right into the first question here. When did your sports career begin, and how were you able to rise to the position of Senior Vice President of Marketing and Event Booking for the Miami Marlins?
Sean Flynn: I started my career in sports when I enrolled in St. Thomas University in Miami’s graduate degree program for sports administration. I have an undergraduate degree in accounting and decided that wasn’t the ideal path for me. So, I did a lot of sole searching and realized I wanted to be in the sports and entertainment field, and realized the best way to do that at that point, which was in 1994, was to attend graduate school and St. Thomas was my best option. So I kind of started from there and went on.
Lucas Biebelberg: How did your marketing strategy change last year as the Marlins were going through their last season as the Florida Marlins, and transiting to the Miami Marlins? And how does your current approach differ then, perhaps, five years ago?
Sean Flynn: Well last year was a transition year so we actually had two platforms that we were trying to communicate. One was saying goodbye and closing the book on the Florida Marlins and closing that chapter, while at the same time we were opening the first chapter of the Miami Marlins. This time last year we were selling season tickets for a new building for the Miami Marlins while we were still focused on selling individual tickets, to groups, and things like that for the Florida Marlins. So there were parallel paths. Obviously once we said goodbye and closed the chapter on the Florida Marlins at the end of last season, our focus and attention became all 100% on the Miami Marlins and Marlins Park. The biggest change from five years ago is the ability to sell the point of destination. We’re selling the team as well as the ballpark. We feel as though we have an unbelievable asset. The feedback on this park has been amazing from fans, to broadcasters, to sponsors, to promoters, to venders, to anyone walking in here has fallen in love with the place. So the biggest change has really been selling the team but selling the building as well.
Lucas Biebelberg: To sort of go along with that, I read an article that you happened to mention that when you re-branded the team, having the name change from Florida to Miami helped make the team sound younger. Can you expand on that?
Sean Flynn: Miami is a brand-positioning element. The term Miami brings a lot of sizzle, and in this market, sizzle sells. Florida, not to be negative, but when folks thing of Florida, they probably think of probably Orlando first and Disney which is great, but second to that would be retirement homes and retirement areas and then the beaches and palm trees. When you think of Miami, you don’t think of that stuff. You think of entertainment and fun and it really sizzles. In a demographic that transcends baseball and entertainment and a destination for excitement, that’s how we want to position our brand.
Lucas Biebelberg: In your opinion, how do you believe marketing a baseball team is perhaps different than marketing a football team or a basketball team?
Sean Flynn: The biggest difference is the amount of games. The skills set that folks use and bring to the table for all professional sports is pretty similar. The areas you need to attack and the goals you set are pretty similar. Season tickets and revenue streams are pretty much the game. The biggest difference is the amount of games. When you’re going out and packaging season tickets for a baseball team, that’s 81 home games as opposed to 8 home games for an NFL team with 2 pre-season games so you’re doing 10 games, or even in hockey or basketball where its 41 home games. So really you have to position those 81 games in a different matter and break them up into compartments. Obviously baseball there is a lot of mini plans. There are 10 packs, 20 packs, and half-season plans and things like that. So probably the biggest point of difference between baseball and any other sports is the amount of games you have to utilize and how you break them up to position them into digestible increments where that folks can come in and find a plan that is right for them.
Lucas Biebelberg: Sean, the last question we have for you today, is what advice would you give to aspiring sports business professionals trying to break into the industry today?
Sean Flynn: I think the number one thing, and I’ll go through a list of the assets or characteristics you need to make it in this industry to be successful and really enjoy what you do, is number one, you need to have a passion for it. If you don’t have a passion for this industry, it’s not going to work. It will be evident immediately. Obviously, a work ethic, and that kind of transcends everything. You need to bring some creativity. No matter what area you are in the business, creativity always helps and it helps you overcome problems. Intelligence obviously, but those are things that probably everyone would say. But you have to have passion for this. The reason I say passion, and it will be evident if you don’t right away, is because I consider this a lifestyle. This industry is a lifestyle. It’s not a job, it’s not a career, it’s a lifestyle. So if you don’t have a passion for this lifestyle, it’s not going to work
Lucas Biebelberg: Sean thank you very much for joining us today. For sprotsnetworker.com I’m Lucas Biebelberg, have a great day.
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