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Coliseum GM influenced by Prince

by Brian Croce / New York Islanders
As part of their weekly series, the members of Islanders University were addressed by another unique guest speaker from the field of sport and entertainment on June 15. This time, the Spectator Management Group (SMG) General Manager currently known as Tina Suca had the floor.

Suca, formerly the personal assistant to the Artist formerly known as Prince, discussed the time, commitment and hard work it takes to make it in the sports or music business.

She wasn’t trying to Purple Rain on the interns’ parade, but the message was clear: if you want to be successful, you must work for it.

“Her speech really gave good insight to how hard you have to work and how many jobs and levels it takes to make it in this type of business,” Brian Adler, a senior at Hofstra said.

Suca has seen just about everything during her time in the music industry, some good things and some bad, but she wouldn’t trade her job for anything.

“I would hate to go to a nine-to-five job where things didn’t change everyday,” Suca said. “I wouldn’t trade my job for the world. I absolutely love it.”

She has worked with recording artists for more than two decades including The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Janet Jackson and Foo Fighters. Her profession isn’t always glamorous, though. It may have its perks, but there are still plenty of problems that arise and Suca is the one who has to be there to make things right.

On June 13, WWE broadcasted their weekly sports-entertainment show, Monday Night Raw, from Nassau Coliseum. As General Manager of SMG, the company that handles all things non-Islanders in the building, Suca had to make sure the event ran smoothly. On this night though, she quickly realized it was going to be anything but smooth.

WWE wrestlers were having difficulty remembering their marks for the show because the Coliseum is one of three arenas in the nation with opposite camera angles. Because of this, WWE wanted the stage placed in a different direction to line up with the camera angles the performers were used to. All Suca had to do was relocate over 1,000 paying customers on very short notice. All part of a day’s work.

“You’re always being thrown curveballs, but I think if you guys want to stick with this profession, pay attention and I think you will have a great life,” Suca said.

She also stressed the importance of not burning any bridges and staying in contact with as many people as possible. Jordan Sosnik, a senior at the University of Michigan and hockey operations intern paid extra attention to that advice.

“The importance of networking, meeting contacts and always keeping great relationships will stick with me the most because you never know who you’re going to have to deal with down the road,” Sosnik said.

Networking has been discussed by several guest speakers at Islanders University. Since the speakers have been prominent figures in the realm of the Islanders organization and Nassau Coliseum, the interns are soaking it all up.

Suca is one of the most powerful people in Nassau Coliseum, but she is not a college graduate. Although she is currently in a successful position, she does not advocate taking the same course she has.

“I do not recommend dropping out of college to any of you because it’s probably made me work longer and harder than I needed to in order to get where I wanted to be,” Suca said.

After growing up outside of Chicago, she moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, but not for long. It was in California where she got her first position in the music industry at Nederlander Producing Company of America. She quickly worked her way up the ladder and eventually made it to the House of Blues where she was the Artist/Relations Manager for nearly seven years.

After her time at House of Blues she hit the road with Prince, and although she couldn’t share any stories because of a confidentially agreement she signed, she said her time with the musician was very interesting to say the least.

Suca had a bevy of stories to share and kept the interns chuckling throughout her speech. She also had sound advice in each part of her 30-minute discussion.

“Never flake out on people,” she said. “When you say you’re going to do something, do it.”

She continued, “Ask questions. Now is the time when people aren’t going to think anything except, ‘Wow, that person is a go-getter.' You need to understand how the whole organization is run, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

The interns quickly took her advice and asked a series of in-depth questions about her career and other insights she could give. It was another successful week at Islanders University with another rewarding discussion.
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