Sport venue management program boosts enrollment in CAFNR

MU is the first school in the country to offer an emphasis in sport venue management.

MU’s sports venue management program will welcome 36 students as it begins its first semester as an approved emphasis area, according to the department of hospitality management.

The program will offer three of its six classes this semester. The fundamentals class is full with more than 100 students enrolled, while the upper-level class on guest services management has 42 students and the sport venue operation management class has 36 students.

MU is the first program in the country to offer sport venue management as a degree emphasis area.

"Most traditional sports management programs offer only a course or two on venue management," Hotel and Restaurant Field Chairman Jim Groves said in a news release. "We see this as an excellent opportunity to draw quality students to our program."

According to the program’s website, the sports industry is one of the largest commercial industries in North America, with revenues exceeding $300 billion.

Assistant teaching professor Lance Hatfield, who was hired in the spring to develop the program, said the students in his classes are about evenly split between genders.

“I think that event management is very attractive toward females as opposed to men, who are more interested in facility management and don’t really realize that both of those things come together,” he said.

The program was created at the suggestion of graduating students who said they wished they had the opportunity to take classes about the business side of sports. Hatfield said the industry is also excited about the creation of the program.

“The industry is very excited for the program because many of those in facility management said the same thing the students said — that they wish they would have had the opportunity to go through a program like this,” he said. “Their opinion matters because they’re the ones that are going to be hiring our graduates.”

The program has drawn interest from a number of incoming students, including student-athletes who are interested in running stadiums and arenas, Hatfield said.

To gain hands-on experience before graduation, students will work with game day operations at MU athletics events. Last semester, students who took the fundamentals class worked at the Big 12 gymnastics championship, NCAA softball regionals and the George Strait concert at Mizzou Arena.

The partnership will continue this semester during the football season. Students will be utilized for events including other sports such as volleyball and basketball and high school sporting events and conventions, associate director of athletic operations Tim Hickman said.

Hickman said he hopes the program’s partnership with MU athletics would continue to develop.

“What we see is this evolving into more internship opportunities down the line,” he said. “Students may go from step one of helping out with an event or two to potentially serving a short internship to a longer, more in-depth internship.”

Hatfield said he hoped the program would develop students to work higher-level jobs within the industry.

“Just like any other academic program, there are entry-level positions available,” he said. “It’s an aspiration that our students will be working as facility and event managers.”

The program will aim to give students flexibility in their career options within the industry. In addition to sports business lessons, classes will include information on entertainment, live business management and promotion.

“I don’t want to have students think that the only thing they’re going to be able to do is have to pull out bleachers," Hatfield said. "There’s a whole world of opportunities out there in sports and entertainment management."

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