On Wednesday, October 26th, the Rice University Sport Business Alliance continued its commitment to forging relationships with local leaders in the sport industry by bringing in Chris Keeney, founder and CEO of A3 Sports Consulting, for a discussion over breakfast.
Keeney's primary area of expertise in the sport industry comes in generating sales and revenue. His company primarily consults various college and professional sport programs with needs in ticket sales, sponsorship, marketing, and event management. A3 Sports Consulting's business partners include Rice University, Major League Soccer, ESPN Regional, the Big 12, and the ACC. But for Keeney, the path to building a successful sports consulting firm was a long one that began with DC United in sponsorship and ticket sales. Keeney's first job in the sport industry came about as a result of connections he made while working in real estate after college.
"The sport industry is about connections," Keeney told the group regarding his entrance into the industry. "It's who you know and what impressions you are able to make to get somebody to feel that you need to be a part of their organization."
Keeney's impression on DC United was a strong one, as he was promoted to their Director of Sales and was named the MLS Salesman of the Year in his eight-year tenure with the club. In 2004, Keeney was named the Director of Sales for Real Salt Lake of the MLS, where he worked for two seasons before a two-year stint with the Columbus Crew.
Keeney was then recruited in 2008 to work for Lone Star Sports and Entertainment, a third-party event marketing firm associated with the Houston Texans. After working integrally to market events such as the Texas Bowl and the 2010 Rice-Texas football game at Reliant Stadium, Keeney left to start his own company.
Now a CEO and minority owner of the independent soccer team, FC Tucson, Keeney brings years of experience in sales and marketing that he feels are vital to being successful in the sport industry.
"Even if you don't go into sales directly, you need to be sure to understand the sales process," Keeney told the students of RUSBA at their breakfast. "Always follow through, and be persistent. And no matter how angry you may get, never burn a bridge in the industry."
Ryan Glassman, a junior from Baldwin, NY, is majoring in English and Sport Management and minoring in Business.