While the Cortaca Jug is an annual tradition, a group of sport management students from the School of Business is running the campus’s ticket sales for the first time this year.
This season’s Cortaca Jug game between the Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland football teams will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. The game has already sold more than 30,000 tickets.
Senior Marco Fontana, a sport management major and varsity baseball player, has an important role on the sales side of this year’s Cortaca contest. At the end of the 2019 spring semester, Fontana proposed to both Annemarie Farrell, associate professor and chair of the sport management department, and Will Rothermel, associate director of athletics, the creation of a student sales team to handle on-campus ticket sales. The proposal was then approved by the Cortaca planning committee, and Fontana was given the title of director of ticket sales.
Fontana is in charge of everything from managing the other members of the sales team to day-of ticket sales. He leads 14 other business students on the sales team who have been working to promote Cortaca ticket sales through social media and will be actively involved in the process when ticket sales begin.
“I saw the opportunity to be part of history,” Fontana said. “Having the game at MetLife has the opportunity to be the most attended DIII football game ever. I thought that if I were able to be a part of that it would be amazing for my own personal experience.”
The current attendance record for a Division III football game is held by the University of St. Thomas and St. John’s University with 37,355 fans at a game played in 2017 at Target Field.
Fontana said he is no stranger to the sales industry. He completed an internship with the New York Mets this past summer as a member of the inside sales team. His responsibility was to sell ticket packages to people who had expressed interest in the Mets organization. Fontana said his experience with the Mets taught him the ins and outs of sports industry sales.
“Sales is a challenging profession,” Fontana said. “The whole process is challenging, but that is what makes it so gratifying when you succeed.”
Fontana said the sales experience he gained with the Mets gave him the confidence needed to manage the ticket sales for Cortaca.
“This project is all about organization ” Fontana said. “Being able to effectively communicate with my representatives that I am working with along with the upper administration at Ithaca is huge. I’ve been making sure that I’m clear on the communication front.”
Farrell said she is confident that her students can independently operate and succeed in their sales.
“One of my goals is to be a support for them but also to get out of their way and to give them ownership of this experience,” Farrell said. “It’s something that they are very capable of leading.”
Fontana is not the only student-athlete with a hand in Cortaca ticket sales. Five out of the 15-person sales team are members of a varsity sports team.
Junior Lauren Hansen, a marketing and sport management major and varsity gymnast, is assistant director of ticket sales. Hansen previously worked in sales through an internship with the Cape Cod Baseball League.
“I wanted to get involved with Cortaca because of the fact that I am an avid sports fan, and I love the Ithaca community,” Hansen said. “I also want to expand my knowledge for future sales opportunities.”
Hansen said she is excited to see all of the students’ preparation come to fruition when student ticket sales open.
“The business school has taught me since my first semester freshman year how to work on a team that executes business decisions,” Hansen said. “I think the most fun will be communicating with our customers as well as the success we will have and seeing it pay off on Cortaca game day.”
Cortaca tickets will be sold from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 19 and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Athletics and Events Center.