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Will Rock Sports Executive Showcase- Marty Mulford | VP Ticket Sales & Service

Picture of Marty Mulford

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self getting into sports?

  • JUST GET STARTED: Take whatever job is offered to you and get started (this mentality changes as you move along further in your career). Don’t worry about what you are making or where you are going to live – you have to get started, start learning and start creating meaningful relationships with people that might be able to help you in the future.

  • BE SELFISH! This is typically a negative word, but what I mean by this is that you are truly only in this job for one reason and that’s to learn the job and advance your career. Making friends, going to bars and hanging out is part of it, but in reality, it’s not really why you are there. If you could get caught up in the complaining and drama in the office, it can derail your career before it even gets started. No one wants to work with someone like that.


  • YOUR PRESIDENT’S NEIGHBOR: treat every phone call/situation like it’s your President’s neighbor. How would you treat that person if you knew it was your President’s neighbor? You’d do whatever you could to make sure this person was happy, right? I have one question for you, “do you know who your Presidents’s neighbors or friends are?” Most likely you do not, so treat them all the same and it will pay off for you!

Why do you work in the sports industry?

I work in the sports industry for a few reasons and several of those reasons I didn’t realize until I got started. I grew up in a small town in South Georgia and played baseball growing up. My goal, like every other kid who played baseball, was to be an MLB player. Once I realized that was most likely a goal that I was not going to be able to reach, my goal then turned to working in professional sports, but honestly and this sounds funny now, I wasn’t even sure if working for a sports team was even a real job someone could have for their career. Sports was and still is my favorite thing to watch and be a part of (other than my family of course). Thankfully, it was a job that people had.

After 25 years of working in sports at a few levels and a couple different leagues, I still love it today as much as I did when I got my first job in 1998 with the Carolina Mudcats Baseball Team. I love the people we get to work and interact with internally and external, I love being able to call Nationwide Arena my office, I love having a cool logo on my business card and I love going through the ups and down as a team. Downs are not as much fun, but they make the ups so much better. One of things that I didn’t think about when I first started, but has become something I think about a lot as another reason I enjoy working in sports is the true impact we have on people and our community. Many people just think about the wins and losses, but it's a lot deeper than that. We are a part of people meeting their spouses at our games, spending time with their wife and/or kids at our games and the impact we can have on the community is immense. Sports teams can bring entire cities together and for all of those reasons, that’s why I enjoy working in sports.

What has been your most memorable moment working in the Sports and Entertainment industry?

I have been very lucky to have been a part of some really cool moments in my career so it’s hard to pick just one so I will go with a few. The first was getting the call for my very first job at the major league level with the Florida Panthers. I always told my Mom that all I wanted to do was work for a team that had their highlights on ESPN. Lol. So, I reached that goal in 2000. The next would be winning the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003 followed by witnessing my first no-hitter in person when Anibal Sanchez no-hit the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006. When I was with the Nashville Predators, we made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 and then only two months after arriving in Columbus with the Blue Jackets in 2019, we swept the Tampa Bay Lightning and won our first-ever playoff series. Hoping there are many more moments like this ahead of me!

What do you look for in potential candidates?

For me, I look at the person and ask myself “could this person succeed in the job I am talking to them about?” I am not a person that just asks 10 formal questions and then moves on to the next person. When I am having this conversation, I look for people asking good questions. Did they do any research on the team, what we do or me because that’s what we would want people to do in a sales role before going on an appointment. Do I feel they are competitive in a good way, will they fit into the culture we have and not cause issues for me, are they coachable (very important) or do they already know everything? I have interviewed enough people at this point that I feel I have a good sense after a 30-minute conversation if they would be a good fit or not.

When you decided to start with your current organization, what were some factors that weighed into your decision?

This was a very difficult decision for me, but not for the reasons you might think. You have so many things to consider when you are making a move like this. Personally, I was 100% sold on the organization, my boss, the culture and that this would be a great next-step for me in my career. My biggest decision was would my family enjoy Columbus and would they be ok moving after living in Nashville for 11 years? Would my kids (12 and 14 at the time) be able to make friends easily and not feel left out? Ultimately, after hours and hours of late-night discussions with my wife before and after the offer was extended, we decided to take the leap and move to Columbus and it has been the best decision we could have made. Our family has grown closer and for my kids and wife, it has been awesome and they have excelled and made tons of new friends. Scary decision, but one that has turned out perfectly.

What advice would you give other sports executives in similar roles to yours?

First off, you need to make sure the job is one you really want to take and you are not just chasing titles. You want to know that the person you are going to working for is going to be a good coach for you and make you better so you can continue to grow your career. Depending on where you are in your life, the decision can be easier or harder. If you are single, take the leap and see what happens. If it doesn’t work out, you just find another opportunity. For me, married with two kids, the decision wasn’t even about the job, because I knew I wanted that, but if your family isn’t happy, then you could be making 4x what you were making in your previous position, but it won’t matter.

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