There is some personnel news to report from the Frisco RoughRiders (Class AA; Texas League) and the Walla Walla Sweets (summer collegiate; West Coast League).
In Frisco, Michelle Hardman has been named the vice president of ballpark events. The team also announced a slate of new hires.
Hardman will be primarily responsible for prospecting, selling, planning, and executing ballpark rentals, meetings, parties, and corporate events at Dr Pepper Ballpark on a year-round basis.
Hardman joins the RoughRiders with nearly seven years of experience in the Dallas-Fort Worth sports landscape, including two years with the Texas Rangers and four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. In her time with both organizations, she sold premium seating. Hardman renewed her client base with the Rangers at the highest level of anyone on staff in her final season, and she was part the original sales consulting staff from Legends for AT&T Stadium, responsible for relocating season ticket holders to the new building while also prospecting new business in seat options and suite rentals for the New Cowboys Stadium project. Additionally, Hardman spent time with the Cleveland Browns, where she was responsible for the promotion, planning, and coordination of selling Cleveland Browns suite inventory, which included decision-making regarding branding, pricing, and selling practices.
“We are thrilled to bring someone with Michelle’s wealth of experience, energy, and enthusiasm into the RoughRiders family,” said RoughRiders General Partner and CEO Chuck Greenberg. “She is the perfect person to take our non-gameday events at Dr Pepper Ballpark to another level and will work tirelessly to fill the world-renowned Choctaw Lazy River and our other first-class hospitality areas for events, meetings, parties, and other corporate and group rentals 365 days a year.”
In addition to her primary duties, Hardman will also take a leading role in the programming of all ballpark events for the franchise, including the 2017 Texas League All-Star Game, which will take place at Dr Pepper Ballpark on June 27, 2017 in Frisco.
In addition to Hardman, the RoughRiders have made additional hires and promotions. Lisa Gonzalez, Garret Randle, and Kasey Carlock were promoted to the position of Premium Sales Manager, and Hillary Adams has been promoted to Group Sales Executive. Joining the Ticketing department are John Kelty, Tyler Marcotte, Adam Smith, Kadeem Hunter, and Alejandro Luna.
In Walla Walla, Katie Biagi is stepping down from her post as the team’s general manager.Biagi is part-owner, with her husband J.C., of Wonderboy Creative, a marketing and graphic design agency founded in Walla Walla, and will be joining her family business in a full-time capacity. Biagi’s last official day will be October 31, where she will spend her last day participating in a Sweets tradition – welcoming thousands of young fans in the Main Street trick-or-treating event with high-fives and treats.
“Working for the Sweets has been an incredible experience, and I have loved getting to know our fans while spending entire summers with them at the ballpark,” Biagi said. “I am thankful to the ownership group who trusted me to steer the ship for the past three seasons, for the incredible employees I got to work with over the last six years, and to the community for making it such a wonderful experience. I will truly miss getting to help plan and execute all of the fun events at the stadium, but I am looking forward to helping grow Wonderboy Creative.”
Biagi, a graduate of Whitman College, first joined the Sweets during the team’s inaugural 2010 season, as a member of the game-day staff. She was promoted in the fall of 2010 to manage the Sweets Shoppe on Main Street, starting her ascent to a senior leadership position with the team. In subsequent years, she received promotions to director of operations, director of marketing, and finally was named general manager in the fall of 2013, replacing team president Zachary Fraser who was in the process of starting parent company Pacific Baseball Venture’s (PBV) second club in the West Coast League, the Yakima Valley Pippins.
“Katie is an invaluable asset to Pacific Baseball Ventures,” said Fraser. “She has provided insight, balance of ideas, and creativity to running the team that will be continued in her absence. She will be missed.
“I am excited to see what Katie and her family are able to build with Wonderboy Creative and look forward to staying close friends with her and her family in our community.”
During her six seasons with the Sweets, Biagi accomplished much in getting the team from start-up phenomenon to established community asset. In addition to being a guiding force in making the Sweets Shoppe a must-visit among tourists and shoppers on Main Street in Walla Walla, Biagi was the lead manager on implementing integrated point-of-sale solutions at both the Shoppe and Borleske Stadium. She ran many of the team’s community engagement programs that got Sweets players, coaches and staff even more involved in the Valley, and was the point person for creating and managing the Battle of the Badge. The exhibition event, created and run by the Sweets from 2013-2015, raised more than $75K for local non-profits under her guidance.
“It is hard to lose someone who is as tenured as Katie, and who has been so important to the decision-making process over the years. Six years is hard to replace. My thanks to Katie for working on a solid transition plan, and if I have to lose a key team member, best to lose her to a start-up family business that she will help make flourish,” said Fraser.
Season tickets for the 2017 season, which launched at the beginning of September, have already reached 35% of capacity, following a 2016 season that saw a 15% uptick in attendance at the venerable Borleske Stadium. New products, such as the beer garden tables, as well as flexible payment options have made the upcoming eighth season of Sweets baseball an attractive option for individuals, families and businesses looking for affordable summer entertainment all summer long.
In her absence, Fraser will re-assume general manager responsibilities for the Sweets in addition to his role as president of PBV. As the founding general manager of the team, and with the transition plan that Biagi created and has executed, Fraser is excited to re-assume day-to-day operations of the team in his hometown. He will work with the team’s board of directors to establish a long-term plan for the role past the 2017 season.