The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum may be one of the oldest buildings in the National Hockey League, but when more than 16,250 fans are on their feet, filling the stands, cheering and clapping their hands for their favorite team, there isn’t a better atmosphere in all of sports.
That feeling of euphoria is exactly why Islanders Ticket Manager Adam Ortiz loves his job. As he sat inside the empty bowl of the Nassau Coliseum one afternoon in October, Ortiz remembered back to “Bill Torrey Night,” held on January 13, 2001 and reiterated everything about what makes him an undoubted Islanders fan.
“One of the best experiences I had here at the Coliseum, happened my second or third year working here,” Ortiz said. “We had ‘Bill Torrey Night’. We played the Pittsburgh Penguins and we won 6-5.”
“Before the game started, we had the recognition ceremony for Bill Torrey and as they raised his banner to the rafters. It gave you goose bumps. With 16,000 people here on their feet, the whole thing was amazing. All of the Islanders alumni came out of the zamboni entrance and fans gave a standing ovation. Then Mike Bossy came out and everyone got to their feet, chanting ‘Bossy.’ Just to see that moment, when the building was full, was one of the most incredible moments I’ve ever had.”
As a result of that experience, Ortiz, with the help of many other people in the Islanders organization, has tried to help recreate that excitement every game night at the Nassau Coliseum by working to fill the stands and giving fans the best opportunity to have an amazing experience.
“The ticket box office function is the lifeline of any organization. It’s where the emotion of the event meets the reality of getting the tickets,” said Paul Lancey, Islanders Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales. “There can be a wide range of experiences and Adam always keeps an even keel.”
“There are days where we have more demand than we have tickets and those are the good days,” Lancey continued. “There are days when we have more supply than we have demand and those are the challenging days. And there are days you have the ability to just make somebody very happy and what could be better than that? Adam does it better than anyone else.”
Of course, a big part of Ortiz’s job is working in the Box Office on game days, helping get tickets into the hands of Islanders fans smoothly, but his responsibilities go much farther than what the average fan sees when they come to the Coliseum.
“We’re not in a revenue producing part of the organization, but at the same time, we can help facilitate other departments create more revenue,” Ortiz said. “And that’s what I try to do. By us being as efficient as we can, we help other departments do their job better.”
Every day, Ortiz works with Ralph Sellitti, the Islanders Vice President of Ticket Sales, on the fulfillment of partial plans and season tickets, making sure that the Islanders loyal fan base is getting everything it paid for. He also works with the Group Sales department to make it easier for the employees selling groups to fulfill everything they’ve promised to their customers.
Once the sales departments have made a ticket sale, Ortiz processes the payments and sends invoices to customers before giving the invoice to the Islanders accounting department.
Ortiz also works with Justin Johnson, the Islanders Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, and the other people in his department, including Islanders legend Mike Bossy, to help them fill their contractual agreements relating to suites and tickets.
“I also help them figure out creative ways we can use tickets to push people to our sponsors' locations to make the partnership more valuable,” Ortiz said. “So in looking to maximize a partner's investment, we may be able to utilize a ticket platform to drive fans to sponsor's retail locations such as NY Auto Giant or Modell's Sporting Goods. Now we’re making that relationship between sponsorship and ticketing a win-win scenario.”
As the Ticket Manager, Ortiz is also a large part of the brainstorming process surrounding the implementation of new and unique ticket promotions that sees him work closely with the marketing department.
“We’re trying to ignite social media and the best way to do that is by figuring out the best way we can use our tickets as a promotion for our different platforms,” Ortiz said. “It’s not all about giving away free tickets and filling the building. It has a lot to do with how we use those tools to better build the business, whether it’s using Twitter or Facebook.”
“But it’s not only the implementation of the offer,” Ortiz continued. “We have to evaluate the setup, the selling and then the marketing and analysis of that promotion, so that when we do it again, we do it better.”
In the end, working in the ticketing department is something Ortiz really enjoys because he knows working in this business requires a collaborative effort.
And when his work day is over, Ortiz remembers back to that day when Bill Torrey’s banner was raised to the Coliseum rafters in remembrance of the Islanders dynasty years and the head coach, the architect, who brought them to four consecutive Stanley Cup victories. He knows that one day that same feeling of excitement he had that evening in January 2001 will return to Long Island.