CUW at the Final Four

Some programs in sport, entertainment, events and hospitality talk about real world experience.

Students in the Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor Sport and Entertainment Business (SEB) program excelled in doing all of these in the high pressure environment of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.

Through the program’s exclusive partnership with PrimeSport that was set up by Prof. Joey-Lynn Bialkowski, nine students from Mequon and Ann Arbor converged on University of Phoenix Stadium to plan and manage the NCAA Fan Experience produced by PrimeSport.

This was a little bigger than the tailgate party most people are used to, as thousands of rabid basketball fans filled the indoor and outdoor hospitality zones. Concordia Students were split into two groups and managed events on both sides of the stadium for the Saturday semi-final games and the championship game held the following Monday evening. Students were tasked from everything to managing volunteers and VIPs, controlling main ingress and egress points to the fan zones, coordinating food and beverage service, and ensuring credentials – which represented the revenue generated at these events – were properly distributed and secured. All gained valuable experience in real-time customer service, and in pushing past exhaustion for several 12-14 hour work days.

“Everyone really got a great taste for the intensity and the enormity of an event like this. There is so much more to events like the Final Four than what you see on TV,” said Dan Underberg, Program Director and Chair of the Sport and Entertainment Business program. “Our students came back with experiences that they can refer to for the rest of their careers. Everyone worked really hard and professionally – they were a great group!”

The students were rewarded for their hard work. When the hospitality zones closed they were able to watch the portions of the semi-finals and championship game from two different suites. Even the suites provided insight on facility design, management and security. They even did a little networking with former NCAA and NBA great, Sam Perkins. Ultimately, the Final Four was another great experience that distinguishes the Sport and Entertainment Business program and its students.

“The Sport and Entertainment Business program prepares you for working in the fast-paced and rewarding industry that is sports,” said Amanda Beierle, a Concordia senior and SEB major. “These experiences helped me feel prepared to handle future jobs in a professional and confident manner.”

“Concordia’s Sport and Entertainment Business program is not only top notch but ahead of the game,”added Eric Kittel, an SEB major and recent May 2017 graduate from Concordia.

“I don’t see other universities doing what we’re doing. To be able to send students to work major sporting events (like the Final Four) is amazing.”