Madison Square Garden, one of New York City’s most highly recognizable arenas, plays host to numerous sporting and entertainment events year-round. Attracting millions of spectators, “the Garden,” provides an atmosphere where children can watch their favorite sports stars and dream of one day emulating them, where adults can escape the realities of the world and immerse themselves in a sport or concert, which at one point, many of them dreamed of pursuing; and where Matt Goodman, a University of Arkansas graduate and life member of the Arkansas Alumni Association, can showcase his talents as vice president of corporate hospitality sales.
Having an educational background in journalism, as well as 10 years of professional experience in the sports industry, Goodman understands what it takes to succeed in a fast-paced world. Graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, the University of Arkansas provided him with a multitude of experiences, all of which he considers invaluable.
While in school, he helped anchor UATV’s Sports Advantage for two years, wrote for the student newspaper, The Arkansas Traveler, the Fayetteville Morning News, and worked with Razorback Athletics as the voice of the Lady’Backs, as well as the inaugural women’s gymnastics sports information director. While working to find a balance between academics and on-campus activities, such as Sigma Nu Fraternity and U of A Hillel House, the Jewish-based religious organization, he appreciated the skills he developed and the professors, Larry Foley, Gerald Jordan, Patsy Watkins and Hoyt Purvis, who encouraged him along the way.
Putting his newly earned degree to use, Goodman left Fayetteville and returned to his hometown of Dallas, TX. Receiving an internship with the Dallas Cowboys, he worked in ticket sales and quickly learned the real business of sports. “During the interview process, I learned that it is all about putting butts in the seats,” he admits. Making cold calls to potential ticket holders, the experience helped him to better understand the “culture of a professional sports team.”
Ascending higher and higher within the industry, Goodman found career opportunities with the Frisco RoughRiders and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Corporately focused, his responsibilities included calling businesses before meeting them face-to-face and closing the ticket sale.
Given the opportunity to work with various sports teams within a span of seven years, his experiences led him to accept a position with Madison Square Garden in April 2009. As vice president of corporate hospitality sales, he oversees a sales team of nine whose focus is the “marketing and sales of luxury suites on a long-term basis to corporate America.” Explaining in further detail, Goodman states, “We are in the second phase of the MSG Transformation, which means we were closed in the summers of 2011 and 2012, and will be closed during the summer of 2013; culminating the three-year, $900 million transformation of the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena.’ Currently, we are transforming the luxury suites, moving them closer and making them much bigger.” With the focus on corporate America, the luxury suites will provide updated, top-notch amenities, with suites selling in the high six-figures.
When asked what the most rewarding aspect of his job is, he compared it to the feeling of game night, saying, “You can’t replicate that feeling. It’s like the calm before the gates open and then the people start flooding in. You are getting people at their most basic emotional state – escaping reality and seeing them root for their team. It’s that emotional connection to a particular event that got me into this.”
Through all of the achievements and successes, Goodman gives credit to the experiences he had, the people he met and the skills he obtained at the University of Arkansas. Although his life is in New York City, he has never forgotten the importance of his alma mater, or its beauty. “Walking up onto Old Main Lawn from Arkansas Avenue, it was one of the most picturesque college experiences,” he admits.
Taking pride in the U of A, as well as his status in the Arkansas Alumni Association, he understands “the importance of alumni support to provide for the greater good of the university.” And while attending a football game in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium isn’t feasible, he makes the effort to become one of the many proud Razorbacks fans at the local Greater New York City Chapter watch parties. It is events like these that provide him with a piece of the slower-paced, laid-back lifestyle of the South which he appreciates. However, he admits that receiving the alumni magazine, Arkansas, as well as e-mail updates are “great reminders of home.”
In the 10 years since graduating from the U of A, Goodman reminds himself of the hard work and dedication it took to get where he is today. In a world dominated by social media and the feeling of “instant gratification,” he urges young people to “understand that things take time to achieve – be practical and work hard. Always do things with integrity and honesty, and if you put your time in, you can achieve greatness.”