This is a guest post written by Jason Chavez, MS Graduate Student in Sports Management
As graduate students in the Texas A&M Sports Management program, we were provided the opportunity to take a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad trip to Germany and Austria. Led by Sport Management professors Drs. Paul Batista and Andy Pittman, we were able to experience some incredible opportunities to learn how sports are organized and presented on the international stage.
Our program included stops in Munich, Salzburg, Berchtesgaden, Kitzbühel, and Innsbruck where we were able to enjoy site visits to famous organizations and events such as Bayern München headquarters, Allianz Arena, Munich Olympic Park, Red Bull Headquarters, a World Cup Bobsleigh run, a hike down the Hahnenkamm’s treacherous downhill ski course, and collaborate with students and faculty at the Munich Business School and the Sport University of Innsbruck. For any football (soccer) fan, the highlight of the visit had to be the visit to the Bayern München headquarters.
In a quaint Munich neighborhood, our group approached what was to be an opportunity of a lifetime for any soccer fan, a visit to FC Bayern München headquarters. The entrance to the building was modern, yet fit perfectly into its surrounding area. Fans were already starting to gather in hopes of catching a glance of one of their favorite players who would be practicing later that afternoon. For our group, it was straight into the lobby to meet one of Dr. Batista’s friends and associates, Anna Rissel, who is one of two in-house lawyers for the club.
Our first agenda item for the day was to view the practice facilities and get an overview of the most successful club in German football history. Not a detail is missed in the facility, from the natural grass blended with a synthetic turf on the pitch, to the team cafeteria which boasts an elevated view of the entire facility.
Our group was then escorted into the state-of-the-art press room for a presentation from Benjamin Hoeneß, Director of Corporate Partnerships (or Marketing as we call it in the U.S.) and Dr. Daniel Högele, Head of International Business and International Strategy.
Mr. Hoeneß shared with us the club’s business model and primary sources of income. Their strategic plan for fostering long-term relationships with their business partners and sponsors is unique to the club as each of their three main business partners have an ownership interest, which is something not seen in the U.S.
Merchandising is the one area where FC Bayern Munich shares their business model with U.S. professional sports. They offer approximately 2,000 items for their fans to purchase in order to show their support. Mr. Högele then shared with our group the club’s International business strategy. The Club opened an office in New York City in 2014 in order to foster support in the U.S. This office manages activities with sponsoring partners and works on extending the club’s fanbase in the States – e.g., through specific U.S. content on the club’s digital media platforms, grassroots activities or fan clubs. Amazingly, they currently have 99 fan clubs with their milestone 100th U.S. fan club forming very soon. A similar office is soon to be opened in Shanghai, China. At the end of the presentation, we were able to take a picture with our hosts on the dais of the press room.
Both presentations resulted in numerous questions from our group, so much so that we ran out of time. As a couple of us waited for our group to freshen up, a tall figure walked by who took the breath away from our group leader, Mira. It was Manuel Neuer, who is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world. He was the keeper for Germany when they won the World Cup in 2014. We couldn’t let the moment go without asking for a quick picture with the German star
In addition to the visit at the FC Bayern Munich Museum, we were able to take a tour of their home stadium, Allianz Arena, where we had access to the locker rooms, the press and media room, as well as into the exclusive spectator rooms with the best view of the stadium.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we were offered tickets to watch the Bayern Munich Basketball team play that night against MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg in the quarterfinals of the Bundesliga championships. This was a fitting end to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Jason Chavez, MS Graduate Student in Sports Management, Texas A&M University