The Blue Jackets ticket sales and operations team held a networking event for season ticket holders on Thursday, June 18, at 7 a.m., at Sunny Street Café across the street from Nationwide Arena.
The event, which was the first of its kind, facilitated an open forum for season ticket holders who use their tickets for professional purposes.
The idea was sparked by Carmelo Marzullo, Season Ticket Service Coordinator for the Blue Jackets, after he attended a local networking event. He realized that Blue Jackets season ticket holders who are entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals could benefit from connecting with one another.
The event kicked off with refreshments and mingling, followed by a short introduction by Joe Andrade, the team's VP of Ticket Sales & Service. All of the attendees introduced themselves and had a chance to chat while eating a light breakfast. Many shared information on their businesses and backgrounds and discussed the ways that they use their tickets, and – of course – bonded over their mutual love for the team.
Mike Stasko, who serves as the Vice President of Brand Strategy at Sunny Street Café, has two seats for every home game and has been a season ticket holder since the Blue Jackets began play in 2000. He uses the tickets for in-store promotions, such as drawings and raffles, and said it’s a nice perk to offer to customers.
Another way Stasko uses the tickets is to entertain potential franchisees that come into town.
“We’re headquartered here in Columbus, on Marconi (Blvd.), right across from the arena,” Stasko said. “So when we have folks come in that are interested in opening a Sunny Street, a lot of times it’ll align with a Blue Jackets game, so we’ll do a market tour, take them into a few stores around town, regroup and then take them to the Jackets game. It’s a really nice entertainment feature.”
Sunny Street Café brings in people from across the country to view the stores in the Columbus area. Stasko said the games offer a good environment to have a relaxing, casual time with clients.
“It’s exciting, but you’re still able to talk and interact,” Stasko said. “You get down here, in the Arena District, and there’s a lot of excitement and people walking around. You have the restaurants, and it’s a good kind of entertainment center to bring people to see some activity and get a feel for Columbus.”
In addition to discussing the best ways for season ticket holders to get a return on their investment, the networking event also served as an opportunity to ask questions during a Q&A with Andrade as well as Kelly Jones, the Blue Jackets' Director of Service and Retention.
“I think this event was interesting for a couple of reasons,” Stasko said. “It’s always nice to do a Q&A with your Jackets rep or some of the higher ups. I learned a couple of things from that, and also just the general networking. Everybody shares that common interest in the Jackets, so you can hit it off that way and grow from there, so a couple of things that my business needs or on a personal level that I need, I was able to make those connections.”
Another attendee, Carol Wilcox, a District Sales Manager in the Columbus office for Autotrader, said that she liked the networking event with other Blue Jackets ticket holders for more than one reason.
“You never know who you’re gonna meet, what connection you’re going to have with them or at what point in your life you’re gonna need something – advice, services, whatever,” Wilcox said. “I don’t think you can ever meet enough people. It’s a great opportunity. I love the city, so I always try to know as many people as I can in the business world and otherwise.”
Wilcox uses Blue Jackets tickets for business, and said she picked up a great tip from the event.
“I’m gonna have my guys now, when they’re at an event, take a picture with their clients,” Wilcox said. “I think it’s great to have that relationship and then they can give that photo to the (car) dealer. I thought that was an excellent idea. I loved it.”
During the event, Dean Curry, President of Curry & Associates, Inc., a cash flow acceleration resource, shared his experience as a season ticket holder, discussed the benefits of referral-based networking, and touched on the value of relationships.
“I use it as a tool,” Curry said. “I can’t make it to 45 games a year, so I use it as a tool to give away tickets to clients and to perspective clients. I’m the guy that has the Blue Jackets tickets and I’m the guy that knows how to find people if they need help on something. And there’s a value to that.”
Curry, who has also been a season ticket holder for 15+ years, uses extra tickets as a ‘thanks for sticking with me’ and mentioned that it’s helped him save business and even generate new business from time to time.
“It’s also just fun meeting up with people at the game,” Curry said. “Obviously, the Blue Jackets and being a part of that, I know there’s been some rough patches and will be, but I’m all in – to the team and to hockey.”
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