Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:23 pm
Can Rick Schlesinger revive the Brewers’ fortunes?
Rick Schlesinger knows you can’t have a rally monkey without a rally. In fact, without the rally, it’s just a goofy monkey.
Therein lies the problem Schlesinger inherits as the new executive vice president of business operations for the Milwaukee Brewers, who have had precious few rallies over most of the past two decades.
Indeed, Schlesinger inherits a host of challenges in managing the day-to-day business operations of the Brewers: a sputtering economy, declining season ticket sales, sputtering sponsorships, luxury suite commitments with looming expiration dates, a ballpark with a leaky roof and a fan base that has become skeptical.
In bottom-line terms, the Brewers lost $5 million to $10 million in 2003, depending upon whom you ask.
One might wonder why Schlesinger left a sunny situation in California to return to Milwaukee to call the shots for a team in disarray in the frozen Midwest. After all, he was the vice president of legal affairs and assistant general manager for Anaheim Sports Inc., the Walt Disney Co. subsidiary that operates the Anaheim Angels baseball team and the Anaheim Might Ducks hockey franchise.
That’s the Angels, as in the team that won the World Series last year.
It was during the post season last October when Schlesinger was approached by Ulice Payne Jr., who had just taken over as the Brewers’ president and chief executive officer.
"I’m thinking to myself, we just won the World Series, and it’s a great situation here (in California). We started talking. Ulice wanted me to run the business side. He was candid. He kept saying, ‘I don’t know the business of baseball, and I want to surround myself with people who do. I have thoughts on the direction, I have thoughts on vision, but the implementation, I need to leave that on the baseball side to my general manager and on the business side to my executive V.P.’" Schlesinger recalled.
"It was the chance to come back to my hometown, the chance to run the business of my home team and the chance to work with Ulice. It’s frankly an incredible opportunity for me, personally and professionally," he said.
"I grew up with this team. I remember the good years, the 1970s and ’80s. When Ulice offered me the opportunity, it was not a hard decision for me," he said.
Schlesinger’s role with the Brewers cannot be overstated. "All" he’s responsible for are the team’s marketing, ticket operations, ballpark operations, broadcasting, corporate communications and corporate partnerships. … Essentially everything but the on-field baseball product, which will be directed by new general manager Doug Melvin.
Brewers fans can expect Schlesinger to employ elements of the "Disney Experience" to add entertainment value to the games at Miller Park.
Season ticket holders can expect better customer service and direct responses from the front office.
Suite-holders can expect added perks, such as free extra parking passes.
Companies, both large and small, that have done business with the Brewers in the past can expect the team’s entire corporate relationship structure to be reevaluated.
"I’m responsible for the revenue for this baseball team," Schlesinger said.
Feb. 7, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee