By: Joseph Barca, @BarkyCat
Front Office Sports is pleased to have sat down with Jason Fleming, Director of Promotions and Special events for the Colorado Rockies. Originally from Pennsylvania, Fleming initially moved to Denver to complete an internship with the Colorado Foxes, a minor league soccer team. Once this internship was through, Fleming was able to get his resume on the desk of a Colorado Rockies employee. Fleming began selling season tickets for the Rockies in 1997 and was promoted to his current position in 2006. He was kind enough to discuss his college days, career and personal life.
Fleming entered Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in 1991. His plan was to study physical therapy. Unfortunately, he was unable to mesh with the coursework.
“After going to school to try and be in physical therapy, I found that science courses weren’t my forte.”
However, it didn’t take long for Fleming to find his way.
“I have been a huge sports fan and played a ton of sports throughout my life. I found this thing called ‘sport management’ and thought it could be interesting. I took a few courses to get a taste of it and realized it was something up my alley. I found a passion and was able to go ahead and dive into that. I did well in that coursework, enjoyed it and graduated [from Slippery Rock] in 1996. I’m very fortunate to have found my passion and what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
One requirement within the sport management program at Slippery Rock was to complete an internship. Fleming was able to secure an opportunity more than 1,500 miles away.
“I came to Denver after my college career and did my internship experience with the Colorado Foxes, a minor league soccer team. It was a great experience. A lot of it is similar to what I’m involved with now. I was dealing with sideline kids, putting up signage, taking down signage, dealing with anthems and color guards, pre games, halftimes, entertainment, promos…I dabbled in everything!”
Fleming’s experience with the Foxes cemented the fact that he had a passion for the sports business industry.
“That internship really brought home that sports is what I really wanted to do.”
When his internship with the Foxes ended, Fleming returned home to Pennsylvania in order to job search and touch up his resume. After a brief period of time, Fleming realized that he was in the wrong place.
“At the end of the day, I realized that I had so much fun in Denver and decided to move back.”
Just before Fleming left Pennsylvania for Denver, he received an important phone call that greatly altered his career.
“The day before I was going to leave Pennsylvania, I received a call from the Colorado Rockies. I was able to get a resume across the desk of a friend of a friend. I was able to get in a low level job in the call center, selling season tickets over the phone.”
While Fleming was selling tickets in the call center, a position of interest opened up in a different department. Turns out, this position helped lead Fleming to his future wife.
“I was fortunate and spent just a few months in the call center. An opportunity opened up in the retail department of the organization. I had worked retail jobs in college, so I had a little bit of background. I was able to parlay that into a store manager position in the Dugout Stores. I spent the first few months of 1997 in the call center and, just before the season, I moved to Littleton, CO to run the Dugout Stores. I ended up spending almost three years in the Dugout Stores. I sold a lot of tickets, but also t-shirts and jerseys, too.”
“The Dugout Stores are great, but it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing in sports. The offseason is slow and, for me, was not as enjoyable as the season. So, I actually chose to leave at the end of the 1999 season. I didn’t necessarily know what I was going to do. I liked this girl. I had never made a move. She actually had worked for me in the Dugout Stores as a part-time person. I’m certainly not going to date someone I’m working with. We realized that we liked one another, and I needed to figure out how to stay in Colorado. I liked this girl a lot and wanted to give it a try. I ended up calling friends in my network and, since I had worked retail as a second job throughout my career, was able to attain an assistant store manager role with Eddie Bauer in Colorado. I did that for 15 months and stayed with that girl. 17 years later, we’re married with two kids. It worked out.”
Fleming’s time at Eddie Bauer ended after he received a phone call from a former boss. Turns out, there was a position open with the Colorado Rockies.
“He remembered me and called me back when there was an open position. I was able to attain that position. For whatever reason, I was able to come back. I didn’t burn bridges when I left the Dugout Store. You never know the next time you’re going to see somebody. I jumped back into the promotions department in 2001.”
Fleming began as the Promotions Coordinator in 2001. He was promoted in 2006 when his boss switched departments.
“I’m very fortunate to have had the boss that I had in this department. He advocated for me, promoted me and helped me along the way. When the opportunity came for him to change departments in 2006, I was the assistant director. He made that move and put me into the director role. I’ve been in that role since the tail end of the 2006 season.”
Fleming and his department are responsible for a number of different things.
“We’re responsible for the giveaways at the gates, such as hats, shirts and bobbleheads, as well as postgame and in-game experiences, like fireworks or postgame concerts. Our department is responsible for that calendar of promotions. We are the behind-the-scenes operators. We’ll help with logistics, and with the heavy lifting of events. Another core responsibility we have is the party deck. This is its third season. We took an area of the ballpark that wasn’t performing and ownership had the foresight to build a party deck. That’s an area now where we activate every game. From photo booths to mini putt, we do something new, every day, on the rooftop. We have a good time up there with micro events.”
The best part of Fleming’s job is that he is able to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives, every day.
“It’s something new and unique and different, each and every day. It’s somebody new, each and every day. Everybody looks forward to coming to the ballpark. People are coming to see ‘us.’ The ‘us’ is my group in a lot of ways. We get to make peoples’ day and bring smiles to faces.”
Fleming left with some advice for students or young professionals who are trying to enter the sports industry or Major League Baseball.
“Don’t be afraid to take what seems to be the lowest job on the totem pole. That’s often times what it takes to get your foot in the door. Get that foot in the door and shine. Shine by keeping your head down and working hard. Show that you’re willing to work the hours and do the dirty work. Promotions and events in Major League Baseball sound glamorous, but it’s tables and tents and pinching fingers and moving boxes and moving palettes. It’s hard work. Be patient and work hard.”
We would like to thank Jason for his time and insight into the world of promotions and special events within Major League Baseball. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here!