Leading sports industry experts convened on Friday, April 15 in Coral Gables as part of the inaugural University of Miami Sports Industry Conference. The event was held at the BankUnited Center on the UM campus.
The day-long conference consisted of six different panels with up to four panelists apiece, with each panel focusing on a pertinent topic affecting the sports world today. Panelists included representatives from each of the four major South Florida sports teams – Dolphins, Marlins, Heat and Panthers – in addition to other sports entities including the NFL, NFLPA, Major League Baseball, PGA Tour and ESPN, among others. Some of the top sports agencies took part as well, consisting of IMG, Octagon and CAA.
Homestead-Miami Speedway was quite prominent in the dialogue as Vice President of Sales & Marketing Shawn McGee and Senior Director of Marketing & Communications Kevin Gregory both served as panelists. McGee was part of “The Next Generation: Marketing and Fan Engagement Strategies to Attract Millennials,” while Gregory was featured on “Untapped Resources: Monetizing Digital Media to Mine the Greatest Return.”
“We have to find that next generation of fans. It is very important,” McGee stated as part of his panel discussion. “We need to educate and connect with all people and show them that it’s more than just a race. Millennials love experiences and we have to let them know all of the cool things to do once they are here, such as the opportunity to be on the track up to a half-hour before the start of the race.” “Being a three-day weekend event, it’s imperative that we have a prominent year-round presence on digital media,” Gregory said on his panel. “It’s all about our followers and keeping them engaged on a regular basis. We need to have an ongoing dialogue, while developing real and meaningful relationships.”
Other panels on the docket included “Not Broke: A Practical Conversation on Protecting and Promoting the Professional Athlete,” “The New Data Frontier: Finding Competitive Advantages in Analytics,” “Smartphone Sales: Reaching New Audiences and Retaining Season Ticket Holders Through App-Based Partnerships,” and “Beyond Networking: Strategies to Make it Big in The Sports Industry.”
In addition to the six panels, NFL Director of Football Development Matt Birk, a veteran of 15 NFL seasons as a player (1998-2012) and a Harvard graduate, served as the keynote speaker during the lunchtime session.