We have personnel news to report from the Frisco RoughRiders (Class AA; Texas League) and the St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association).
In Frisco, the RoughRiders have announced that John Alper is their new chief sales officer.
Alper, who has over 25 years of experience in the sports industry, will lead the franchise’s corporate sales and development.
Alper’s career includes experience working on the team, venue and agency side of the sports business. A 1990 graduate of SMU and longtime resident of the Dallas area, he has extensive knowledge of the DFW market, including career stops with the Dallas Mavericks and Sidekicks (1991-1995) in ticket sales and FC Dallas (1995-2006) as Senior Vice President of Sales.
Over the past decade Alper worked for two of the top sponsorship sales agencies in the United States, first with Premier Partnerships (2006-2011) and more recently with Legends Sales & Marketing (2011-2015).
“John has a proven track record of creating and maintaining large-scale sponsorships both in the DFW market and across North America and we’re thrilled to welcome someone with his level of experience to our RoughRiders’ executive team,” said General Partner & CEO Chuck Greenberg. “John’s knowledge of the sports sales landscape coupled with his existing business relationships and strong passion for creating effective, long-lasting partnerships will be a tremendous asset as we continue to grow the RoughRiders’ brand.”
During Alper’s stint with FC Dallas, he was credited with raising the sponsorship standard within Major League Soccer when Toyota Stadium (formerly Pizza Hut Park) debuted in Frisco in 2005. He worked closely with the late Lamar Hunt and Hunt Sports Group to secure the venue’s naming rights partnership and eight founding Signature partners.
In his nearly 10 years on the agency side of the industry, Alper focused on representing various properties throughout North America to assist them in maximizing their sponsorship revenues. He provided consulting and sales execution services for numerous clients in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, including selling naming rights for the University of North Texas’ new football stadium (Apogee Stadium) as well as working with the North Texas XLV Super Bowl Host Committee, Lone Star Park, SMU, the Irving Music Factory, and several others.
Since 2005, Alper has secured naming rights agreements for five different properties within the United States, and has generated over $150 million dollars in sponsorship revenue for his clients.
“This is an exciting time for me to join one of the most successful and dynamic franchises in the industry right here in the vibrant Dallas/Fort Worth market,” said Alper. “Chuck Greenberg and his ownership group and front office team have re-energized the RoughRiders’ brand and game day experience at Dr Pepper Ballpark over the last two seasons and I’m thrilled to bring my skills and experience on board to leverage our brand into new, larger opportunities for the club.”
In St. Paul, the Saints have announced several promotions within their ranks as well as a new addition to their front office.
Assistant General Manager Chris Schwab, 36, has been promoted to Sr. Vice President, Assistant General Manager. He will continue to help oversee the sales department which broke numerous records the last two seasons. On the group sales side Schwab and his team helped the Saints set attendance records filling CHS Field to 112% and 117% capacity in its first two seasons, respectively, tops in all of minor league baseball. Corporate partnerships continue to thrive at CHS Field with local and national businesses doing creative and innovative advertising at the ballpark. Schwab began as a game day intern with the Saints in 2004 and went to work for the Sioux Falls Canaries, eventually becoming Assistant General Manager, before rejoining the Saints in 2010. Schwab is a graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Director of Broadcasting/Media Relations Sean Aronson, 39, will become Vice President, Director of Broadcasting/Media Relations. Aronson is coming off a season in which he became the first Saints broadcaster to broadcast 1,000 games in franchise history plus was named the Ballpark Digest Broadcaster of the Year. Aronson will continue to broadcast all 100 Saints games and be the liaison between the organization and the media. He joined the Saints in 2007 after spending four seasons with another Goldklang Group Team, the Twins Single-A affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle, as their Director of Broadcasting/Media Relations. Aronson is a graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Sierra Bailey, 29, has been the Director of Promotions the last four seasons, and will now become the Director of Marketing & Promotions. She will continue to oversee the entertaining and fun ideas of the Saints by helping execute the daily and nightly promotions. In addition, Bailey will work with all local media entities on ad placement throughout the year. Bailey began with the Saints as a game day intern in 2009 and went on to work for the Minnesota Twins and Timberwolves in their promotions departments. She graduated from the University of Minnesota.
The 27-year-old Cameron Koopman enters his third season with the Saints, will go from Ticket Sales Account Executive to Ticket Sales Manager. In his new role Koopman will assist in the ticket sales strategy including new group experience opportunities in 2017 and future seasons. He will also help facilitate corporate picnics and specialty seating areas throughout the ballpark and help with the transition of the new Ticket Office Manager. Koopman will also assist on season tickets and add a corporate sales responsibility to his duties. Prior to the Saints Koopman worked for KTI, a third party logistics company. He is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran College.
The 32-year-old Mark Jeffrey is going into his third season with the Saints and has been promoted from Account Executive to Sr. Account Executive. Jeffrey will continue to focus on ticket sales while developing corporate partnerships. Prior to joining the Saints, Jeffrey worked in social media and communications for the Minnesota Twins. He graduated from Winona State University.
Zane Heinselman, 24, moves from Ticket Sales Account Executive to Corporate Sales Manager as he enters his third season. Heinselman will help oversee the sales department including corporate groups, picnics, specialty seating and corporate activation. He began as an intern with the Saints in 2014 and was hired on full-time following his internship. He is a graduate of St. John’s (MN) University.
The 24-year-old Jordan Lynn enters his fourth season and will be promoted from Marketing Associate to Director of Digital Media and Video Production. His responsibilities include creating and implementing a social media plan along with online and in park videos. He will also focus on trends in technology and how the Saints can utilize them both inside and outside of CHS Field. Lynn continues to work with the Saints app which will add more features for the 2017 season. He was a Saints intern in 2013 and was hired on full-time following the internship. Lynn graduated from the University of Minnesota.
Business Manager Krista Schnelle will add community outreach to her list of responsibilities. In her added role, Krista will serve as a point of contact to CHS Field neighbors and neighborhood associations.
The one addition to the Saints staff for the 2017 season is 22-year-old Darion Fletcher who will take over as Ticket Office Manager, replacing Alex Harkaway who departed for his hometown of Portland to work for the MLS Timbers. Fletcher was an intern with the Saints in 2016 and will be responsible for handling season ticket holders, game day tickets and overseeing the box office during the Saints 2017 season. Fletcher is a 2016 graduate of University of Minnesota-Duluth and was a four year starter at cornerback for the Bulldogs. He holds three school records: pass break-ups in a career, season and game. In the fall of 2016 Fletcher was the Cornerbacks Coach for the Bulldogs.