MU offers new sport venue management emphasis area

Monday, February 28, 2011 | 4:48 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – MU will be among the first in the nation to offer students a degree with an emphasis in sport venue management.

The emphasis area will teach students how to apply management skills to sport settings such as arenas and stadiums, said Lance Hatfield, who will teach courses in the area.

Classes in sport venue management will be offered under the hotel and restaurant management program within the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources at MU.

Students will learn about box office operations, food and beverage sales, event production, vendor relations, contract negotiations, crowd safety and marketing. They will also learn how to manage and operate concerts and live entertainment.

“We don’t focus exclusively on sporting events,” said Hatfield, an assistant teaching professor in hotel and restaurant management.

Hatfield has first-hand experience with the variety of events sport venues offer. As director of the arena at the University of Georgia, he said sporting events filled only a small portion of his calendar. The rest were concerts, expositions, bridal shows and even a gubernatorial debate.

Hands-on learning experiences are an important component of the program, he said.

“We are really working hard to develop internship and practical opportunities for the students,” Hatfield said.

Those in the program will gain experience in both athletic and other entertainment events by working with Missouri athletics and the Hearnes Center, he said.

Kevin Owen, manager of special events at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, said people skills plus organizational and leadership skills are important in sport venue management, but experience sets applicants apart.

"I look more for experience, real world experience. I like someone with a background in hospitality," he said. "First-hand knowledge is important."

The program is brand new, but Hatfield said interest surfaced almost 10 years ago when the provost found students interested in sport business courses.

“It was really driven by student interest and supported from the provost down,” Hatfield said.

MU is offering an introductory class this semester taught by Dené Williamson, coordinator of sport venue management program. Hatfield said he would be teaching upper-level classes in the fall.

"Most traditional sport management programs offer only a course or two on venue management. We see this as an excellent opportunity to draw quality students to our program," Jim Groves, chair of hotel and restaurant management, said.

“What this department is about is hospitality management, and what we do in sport venue management is all about hospitality, ” Hatfield said. “We have to make sure the people who attend these events are happy and taken care of.”

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