By: Matt Puttin
Four years ago, I was in Scottsdale, AZ on spring break with my family. I was 19 years old and on a family vacation to visit the Grand Canyon and see the Chicago White Sox spring training baseball. Turns out this was one of the smarter decisions I’ve ever made. This is where my 4FRONT story begins.
My younger sister, Leah, who was 11 at the time had one of her best friends, Abby, and her family staying not too far away as they were also enjoying their spring break in the desert. The game plan was to meet up with Abby and her family at the White Sox vs. Rangers game. Casual small talk started with her parents which then turned into career goals and aspirations.
I proudly told them that I was attending the University of Missouri, majoring in journalism with an emphasis in strategic communication and public relations with a minor in business administration. Abby’s mom responded: “Oh, I went to Kansas.”
At that point, I figured the conversation was over because why would a Jayhawk have any interest in helping a Missouri Tiger? Fortunately, that was not the case. In fact, it was the complete opposite.
Growing up, I played a variety of sports, but baseball was by far my favorite. I will always be thankful that my parents allowed me to play America’s favorite past-time and create so many memories in doing so. Like most young athletes, I realized that my dreams of playing professional sports for a living were probably not going to work out. If I couldn’t play professionally, I was determined to work professionally in the sports world.
Surprisingly, I was able to communicate this to Abby’s mom after finding out she went to KU. She mentioned that she had a friend, Dan Migala, in Chicago that founded his own sports marketing company AND attended the University of Missouri. This was incredible news and she connected me with Dan just like that. After getting in touch with the 4FRONT team, I was all set for my first internship. In the words of my little sister, “you wouldn’t have been able to get that cool internship if it wasn’t for me.”
Naturally, my FIRST first day at 4FRONT (at the time PCG SportsDesk) was full of nerves. I spent the night before in the city to make sure I gave myself plenty of time to get to the office. When I arrived, I was greeted by smiling teammates and was blown away by the cool office layout with couches, a flat-screen TV, Golden Tee, and a full-service kitchen. I knew I was in for a fun summer as an Innovation Team intern.
I took an all hands-on deck approach to help with whatever anyone else in the office needed whether that was participating in innovation team brainstorms, prospecting potential partnership opportunities or building a best practices sports business website. It was a summer filled with fantastic real-world experience in an industry that I saw a potential future in.
As Dan likes to say, “We spend time with friends and call it work.” That’s exactly what every day feels like at 4FRONT and a reason why I wanted to return the following summer.
Coming into my SECOND first day at 4FRONT, I felt very comfortable as I was able to maintain many of the relationships from the previous summer. The main project I was assigned to was the launch of an Independent League baseball team just outside of Chicago in Rosemont. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to introduce a baseball team to the Chicago DMA.
I remember sitting in on brainstorms that focused on the name of the team, potential logos, stadium naming rights, ticket sales, and youth/community organizations to target. Within the short three-month window of my internship, we were able to accomplish all the goals we set out to as the Chicago Dogs was established and would be opening play in May of 2018 at Impact Field.
We then pieced together an incredibly fun launch day as we started our day on WGN-TV at Chicago’s famous Wiener Circle and paraded through the city on double-decker buses in hot dog costumes celebrating Chicago’s newest baseball team.
Most recently, my THIRD first day at 4FRONT was just last week. No longer an intern but a full-time teammate. After spending a year and a half in franchise PR, an opportunity arose to return to the 4FRONT family and re-join the innovation team. Looking ahead, I am thrilled to be surrounded by so many #sportsbiz all-stars in the innovation, partnerships, digital and analytics space.
In the words of my little sister when she found out I was making my return to 4FRONT, “just remember, none of this would have been possible without me.” It’s good to be back! Cheers!