Thinking outside the batter's box a requirement for St. Paul Saints
By Amolak Singh
For Sierra Bailey, promotions manager of the St. Paul Saints baseball team, nothing is more satisfying than making several thousand fans laugh at a silly promotional event.
“I love hanging out with the fans,” said Bailey, 26, of Maple Grove. “I love hearing (them) laugh at our promotions, or even at something we didn’t plan. Hearing them laugh meant that it was a success, and I don’t care about anything else in that moment.”
As an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, Bailey knew she wanted to have a career based in sports. However, she thought that being a therapist or trainer was the only way to work in the industry.
At a promotional TwinsFest, she quickly “fell in love with the business side of sports” and switched over to sports management. Since then, she has interned with several major Minnesota teams, including the Lynx, Timberwolves and Twins.
Bailey runs promotions for the Saints, a minor league professional team that plays in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball—which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. They have played at Midway Stadium in St. Paul since 1993, but are moving into a new stadium starting with the 2015 season.
Since the Saints are a smaller team with rotating players, they rely on unique promotions to draw fans to the ballpark. ThreeSixty Journalism reporter Amolak Singh chatted with Bailey about how those ideas come together before the Saints season begins in mid-May.
Why did you start working in sports promotions?
I’ve always loved the baseball atmosphere the most … and Saints promotions are so much more than every other team I’ve worked for—which is what they are known for. If we see a line, we just don’t get close to it. We cross it. It’s awesome to work at a place like this.
How do you know when it’s OK to “cross the line” with a promotion?
There have been some instances where we have to make sure we aren’t doing anything wrong, and we usually check it with our GM (general manager) and owner to make sure. I’d love to say we can do whatever we want, but that’s not always the case. But 90 percent of the time we can cross the line, and that’s what is fun. The Saints motto is “Fun is good.”
What attracted you to baseball?
A lot of people come to baseball games, not because it’s super exciting to watch, but because it’s a nice way to be outside, be at a sporting event and also hang out with friends. I like the Saints because you can do it for so much cheaper here.
Was it eye-opening to realize all the behind-the-scenes action that goes into baseball games?
Yeah, it is amazing. I mean, we work a lot, sometimes 10 or 11 hours each day. It can be tiring. But it is amazing how once the gates open, we all change from being zombies to being super excited. It really is a lot of fun.
What keeps the Saints important in the St. Paul community?
There’s always something going on. Between innings, there is always a promotion going on. People love free stuff. For example, if a section won something and didn’t get their prize coupon, they would flip out and demand it. We always try to pick two or three promotions that get national attention.
What do your promotions look like?
We might have a theme of the day, which means our promotions and giveaways are based on that. One promotion we do every year is St. Patrick’s Day in July, where people dress up in green and get super excited like it’s actually St. Patrick’s Day. Anything is on the table. There will be times when something looks really funny on paper, but when we get to it we have no idea how to execute it.
What would a typical day as promotions manager look like?
During the season on a game day, we always get here at 9 a.m. I put together scripts for our public announcement guys, help plan what promotions we are going to have each inning, and get all our crazy promotion stuff ready before the game. I have about 25 game day interns that I meet with and tell them what’s going on. They go off and we get everything set up. Then, it’s game time. We could be here (until) anytime between 10:30 p.m. and midnight. And then we get up and do the same thing the next day, especially on homestands where there are at least three games.
Do you interact more with Saints fans compared to a bigger organization?
We seat 5,000 to 6,000 fans at our ballpark, so there’s a strong community feeling here. I’m always involved with the fans because I’m busy picking out contestants and hanging out with them and getting to know them. There’s drunk people, there’s old people, there’s young kids who get super shy when they’re on the field. My voice gets super hoarse at the end of the summer because I talk to everybody and I can’t shut up.
This is the third installment of “The Way I Work,” a regular ThreeSixty feature aimed at providing insight into unique and interesting career fields. Intrigued by this career path? Promotions manager Sierra Bailey offers the following advice to teenagers:
“You have to have a certain drive, but you can’t take anything too seriously. You have to be able to market yourself, and networking is your main tool to getting jobs and internships. I didn’t apply for this job. Our assistant GM, who also worked (with the Saints) when I was an intern, called me up awhile back and asked me what I was doing. Then he asked me if I wanted to be the promotions manager.”