Niagara University is sending a team of 11 to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV but they won’t be suiting up against the Steelers or Packers. Instead, the students from NU’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management will get a first-hand look at what goes into organizing one of the world’s largest sporting events.
The group departed from Buffalo on Feb. 1 to volunteer at a series of events associated with the National Football League’s Super Bowl, which will pit two of the league’s premier franchises against each other when the Green Bay Packers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 6. During the eight-day trip, NU students will greet visitors, host a media party and take a few shifts at the NFL Experience, the league’s interactive theme park, among several other activities as requested by organizers.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the hospitality, tourism and sport management majors will be working with NFL On Location at a sold-out pre-game VIP party adjacent to Cowboys Stadium.
This is the third time in five years that Niagara University has participated in the NFL’s showcase event.
“These types of experiential learning trips are of tremendous value to our students,” said Kathryn Finamore, director of experiential opportunities in NU’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “They help to augment what the students learn in the classroom and give them a greater understanding of what real, hands-on industry experience is like. In addition, the hospitality, tourism and sport management fields are extremely competitive and trips to major events like the Super Bowl greatly increase the students’ marketability after graduation.”
Dexter Davis, Ed.D., an assistant professor of sport management at Niagara, will join Finamore and the 11 students during their tour of major Texas sports facilities. Along with the Super Bowl-related activities, the group will also visit Arlington Stadium, home ballpark of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers and American Airlines Center, where the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks play 41 times each year.
Similar trips are offered regularly by the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, which strives to provide its students with as many first-hand learning and networking opportunities as possible. Later this spring, several sport management students will be heading south to volunteer during Major League Baseball’s spring training.
Interested students undergo a fairly rigorous process to be selected for the trips. Resumes and cover letters are collected and interviews are conducted to determine which students to take.
A fundraiser was held in November to offset some of the costs, resulting in the students only having to pay $450 out of pocket for airfare, accommodations and facility tours.