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The Sam Houston State University Sport Management program will host “SHSU Night with the Houston Rockets” at Houston’s Toyota Center on April 7 starting at 4:30 p.m.
The annual event that turns the Toyota Center orange is put together by two sport management graduate classes—the revenue generation and sports class and the event and facility management class.
Associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology Ryan Zapalac teaches the event facility management class, while adjunct professor and director of Ticket Sales and Market Analytics for the Houston Texans Derek Beeman teaches the revenue generation in sport class.
“The revenue generation class is responsible for selling the tickets for the events, selling sponsorships, and doing things to try and get people on board, while my class is geared toward engineering the event for game day,” Zapalac said.
The “SHSU Night” project began back in 2011 when the sport management program embarked on doing an event with the Houston Aeros.
When the Aeros moved way after the 2013 season, Zapalac and associate professor Brent Estes looked for another Houston-based team to work with and decided to reach out to the Rockets. In 2014 and 2015 the SHSU classes produced “SHSU Night with the Houston Rockets,” but in 2016 the Houston Astros baseball organization approached the classes.
“The Office of Alumni Relations was already doing something with the Astros,” Zapalac said. “We contacted them and asked if we could partner for the event and make it even better for everybody. Alumni Relations was great about working with our students to make it a great event. We had 944 come out for that. That was a great partnership and we very much appreciate Charlie Vienne and his staff working with our students to make it such a great night.”
The upcoming “SHSU Night with the Houston Rockets” will see the sport management program return to Toyota Center with a few new additions. One will be the pre-game tournament for students on the Toyota Center’s court.
“The pre-game court time is definitely new,” Zapalac said. “That is something we have not done before. We will be targeting different groups and having them come down and play in a basketball tournament before the game.”
Also, according to Zapalac, the Rockets have indicated that they will offer more to the students this year.
“They have agreed to provide everyone who comes to the game with a t-shirt if they purchase tickets by March 20,” Zapalac said. “In the past, we have limited it to 500, but this year they have stepped up and have made the commitment to give everybody a shirt who purchases by that date.
“It will be a custom-designed shirt to remind people of their evening,” Zapalac said.
The event also will include previous activities from other SHSU nights.
Students attending will receive a pre-game meal at the Lake House Restaurant, sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs. A limited number of spaces are available, and students must have a ticket for the game.
The Division of Student Affairs also buys a block of approximately 100 tickets that are given to students closer to the game.
The VIP reception will also return with SHSU president Dana Hoyt, men’s head basketball coach Jason Hooten, and women’s head basketball coach Brenda Nichols as special guests.
The VIP event will also be the setting for the presentation of the Industry Impact Award, with the 2017 award going to SHSU alumnus Charlie Amato.
Amato is a regent within the Texas State University System, SHSU’s governing body. He is also a part of the ownership group for the San Antonio Spurs and has served as chair of the Alamo Bowl.
“He has a lot of different fingers in the sports industry,” Estes said. “And, of course, he is a very well-respected businessman and Sam Houston State University alumnus. We are excited he is going to be our recipient this year.”
Registration for the student pre-game meal and for the VIP event, discount codes for tickets, directions to Toyota Center and information about the post-game events is available at shsurockets.blogspot.com.
After the final buzzer of the game, all SHSU attendees will have the opportunity to get on the home court of the Rockets and shoot free throws.
“That’s a really nice benefit that the Rockets provide us,” Zapalac said.
There will also be a limited number of giveaways for SHSU attendees.
“Most other schools who do similar events just focus on selling tickets and then that’s it,” Estes said. “We try to basically take over Toyota Center the whole night and make it our event.”
According to Zapalac, the most impactful part of the event is the positive effect it can have on the students who plan it.
“The real payoff is that the students get great experience putting on the event,” Zapalac said. “They are able to network and it sets them up for their careers later. I can’t tell you how many times we have visited with people that are interviewing our folks for internships and positions, and they specifically point to this event as setting our students apart. We are really happy about that.”
Sponsors include of the event include the Division of Student Affairs, the College of Health Sciences, the Office of Alumni Relations and the Alumni Association, the College of Education, and the Department of Kinesiology.
“It is going to have something for everybody,” Zapalac said.
To see updates for the event, check out SHSU Rockets on Twitter and Facebook.
For more information visit the “SHSU Night with the Rockets” website at shsurockets.blogspot.com.