Feature Stories

From Red Sox to Red Bulls

McCormack center addresses the culture and business of sports
  • UMass Amherst students and sports fans in maroon tee shirts cheering on a team.

The Red Sox, Mountain Dew, the New York Red Bulls, Nielson Television, and Newell Rubber Maid are just a few of the many organizations using the McCormack Center for marketing research and consultation.

The Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at UMass Amherst is internationally known for sending top-flight graduates out into the field—students come from all over the world to take part in one of the best sports management departments in the country. With the addition of the Mark H. McCormack Special Collection, students and faculty now have much of the history that defined the sport management field right at their fingertips.

The goal of the McCormack Center for Sport Research and Education (MCSRE)—housed in the Mark H. McCormack Sport Management Department within the Isenberg School of Management—is to create new knowledge and educational opportunities in the sports industry through alliances with top corporate partners and other industry and academic professionals. Tracy Schoenadel, a leading authority on sponsorship, brand and media, directs the center, which emphasizes hands-on training and building strong industry relationships. The center acts as a professional network that serves as a resource for both students and alumni.

The center, which was founded in 2007, was renamed in 2011 to acknowledge the acquisition of a vast archival collection of artifacts by sport management pioneer, Mark H. McCormack. The archival donation was supplemented with an endowment by the McCormack family to further support research and education initiatives through the center, the department, the Isenberg School of Management, and UMass Amherst Libraries (where the collection is housed). Schoenadel and her team are building on McCormack’s foundation of success as they administer event management training all over the world, conduct market research around the economic impacts of large-scale sporting events, and evaluate the viability of sponsorships throughout the sports industry.

Schoenadel and her graduate students have conducted event-related research for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and various Massachusetts event properties. Their work helps state administrators key in on events that are most beneficial for the city of Boston and the region. They have also started investigating the economic impacts of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on the city of Springfield. The team collects information regarding car rentals, restaurants and hotels to determine which future events are most likely to boost the local economy. The level of exposure offered by televised events is also an important element to capture.

“You can actually put a value on events from a tangible and intangible prospective, and that’s what we do,” Schoenadel says.

As one example, Schoenadel sent instructors to an intensive training in Kazan, Russia, to prepare the Executive Committee Staff to run the 2013 World University Games in Kazan. The training focused on hosting and event logistics of the upcoming Summer Games, as well as the upcoming Winter Olympics and World Cup in Russia. In another initiative, center staff helped provide training to students, faculty and staff from UNINOVE University in Brazil in preparation for the country’s upcoming World Cup and Olympics. Instruction included sponsorship rights fees, media, event logistics, ticketing, facilities and marketing.

The Red Sox, Mountain Dew, the New York Red Bulls, Nielson Television, and Newell Rubber Maid are just a few of the many organizations using the McCormack Center for marketing research and consultation. For example, the center team gathers information from sports fans and event attendees to assess how well sponsorship programs are producing the desired results.

Because the McCormack Center is so active in the sports industry, Schoenadel is able to build on existing professional ties through a guest speakers program, a weekly blog-chat, webinars, and podcasts for sports management professionals. These forums create a reciprocal chain of information that benefits students and industry alike.

“It keeps our finger on the industry; it allows me to take everything we’re great at and educate externally,” Schoenadel says.

Before coming to UMass Amherst, Schoenadel worked in the sports industry for nearly 15 years in various research and marketing capacities. She finds it rewarding to see her students quickly learn aspects of the field they would not normally see until their third year in the industry.

 “I do believe that they walk out of here a step ahead,” Schoenadel says.

Amanda Drane ‘12