08/19/2012 4:55 PM
Kurt Sieker (Photo by Matthew Hicks).
By Ashley Dunkak
Kurt Sieker did not know quite what he wanted to do after graduating from Fort Hays State University, but he did know he wanted to work in baseball. He took a stadium operations internship with the T-Bones in 2008, and, four years later, he is the assistant general manager for the team as well as the director of group sales.
“One of my buddies from childhood interned here, and another guy I went to college with interned here as well, and I heard nothing but great things about the T-Bones,” Sieker said. “I took the shot, and it’s worked out well.”
Working closely with assistant director of group sales Ryan Thayer, Sieker’s job description includes taking group orders and making sure clients have the number of tickets they need in the area of the stadium that best fits their group’s needs. Sieker and Thayer also supervise the group ticket sales interns.
Though his position puts him closer to sales than stadium operations, Sieker’s internship still gave him valuable experience and overall knowledge of the stadium. Even more than his college degree in sports management, his time spent working with the T-Bones prepared him for the job in a practical way.
“You really can’t walk into a college class and learn how to sell a ticket or do event planning,” Sieker said. “That’s why we focus hard on the internship aspect. It shows people what the baseball and ticket side is all about.”
As with most jobs in sports, Sieker’s is not a 9 to 5 position. During the season he comes in around 9 a.m. every day and doesn’t leave until after the game ends, so he regularly spends at least 12 hours at the ballpark when the T-Bones are in town. Between good friends and a fun atmosphere, though, the days don’t seem so long.
“For me, my office is basically the ballpark,” Sieker said. “I can go out and walk around the stadium anytime I want. During the game I really don’t see it as work that much because I get to watch baseball. Obviously I’m helping clients throughout the game, but just the fan interaction, with different people every single game, that’s the part I enjoy.”
During the offseason, the hours are less strenuous, but the work done in those cooler months builds the foundation for the kind of attendance the team will see throughout the summer. Sieker works on facilitating renewal of season tickets, brainstorming between-innings promotions and theme nights, and finding groups who want to come to games. By the time baseball season draws near, much of the legwork that leads to a full stadium has been done.
For instance, earlier this season, CommunityAmerica Credit Union Night drew the third-highest attendance in the ballpark’s 10-year history – and the highest ever for a Tuesday – as 10,202 came through the gates and watched the T-Bones defeat the Newark Bears 8-1.
“It’s very rewarding,” Sieker said. “You look at the crowd and think, ‘We definitely had a part in this.’ A lot of what we did, there’s the final product. It’s putting people in the seats. It’s something that if you can take a step back and look, you see that all the hard work did pay off. The work we do in the offseason, when it’s freezing temperatures out and nobody’s thinking about baseball, that’s when you feel good.”