A Team Player Brings Soccer To Maryland

Head Of State's Sports Marketing Office Already Looking Beyond Game To Bigger Things

July 23, 2009|By Jonathan Pitts | Jonathan Pitts,jonathan.pitts@baltsun.com

He was the youngest of five boys, his father a high school coach, and by the time he was big and strong enough to run on a field or dribble on a hardwood floor, Terry Hasseltine was taking naturally to two positions that augured his future career: soccer midfielder and basketball point guard.

For the uninitiated in the sporting world, those are athletes who aim to keep a clear vision of the field, control the ball as much as possible and get it to the scorers who can do the most damage.

"I've always been about the team," says Hasseltine, 39, director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing and the man as responsible as anyone for bringing Friday night's soccer match between AC Milan and Chelsea FC to Baltimore.

More than 71,000 fans will pack M&T Bank Stadium for the 8 p.m. game. ESPN will beam it live worldwide.

"We'll have fans from all around the region, but this is an international event," says Frederick W. Puddester of the Maryland Stadium Authority. "It's incredibly big for us."

It was a scant 11 months ago that Gov. Martin O'Malley, determined to maximize the state's capacity to attract major sporting events, agreed to create the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing, now part of the state's Department of Business and Economic Development.

A nationwide search for a leader settled quickly on Hasseltine, then a deputy director of the Kentucky Sports Authority. During his years there, the organization landed the 2008 Ryder Cup golf tournament and the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games.

"We were looking for a seasoned professional who knew the players in the industry," says Puddester, then the MSA board chairman. "Terry fit the bill."

He called Hasseltine a tireless worker with a low-key approach - perfect for his new role as Maryland's first-ever "go-to guy" for pulling such events together. In his first year on the job, he has spearheaded some major coups. In February, he helped persuade the NCAA to return its Lacrosse National Championships, a three-day event that happens over the Memorial Day weekend, to M&T Bank Stadium for 2010 and 2011. In June, he helped cinch the deal that brings the Army-Navy football game to FedEx Field in Landover in 2011 and back to M&T Bank Stadium for 2014 and 2016.

"Terry has been traveling the state, taking inventory of our facilities, just as often working on projects you might not read about in the newspaper," Puddester says.

Hasseltine, who works out of a 14th-floor office in the World Trade Center, has upped the tempo in Maryland sports marketing, looking for open talent and distributing the proverbial ball.

The Ravens, the Blast and Creative Artists Agency - promoters of the six-city World Football Challenge tour - were among the organizations he knew and assembled when he saw months ago that there was an opening in the local sports calendar and time available at the Ravens' home field.

"So many pieces were in place here, and there's this huge passion for sports throughout the state," Hasseltine says.

At a time when a tight economy has squeezed sponsors, his efforts have meant an economic boon to Maryland of more than $100 million, says Hasseltine's boss, Hannah Byron, head of the state's Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, including about $25 million for each football game, $20 million for the lacrosse tournament, and perhaps $20 million for the soccer game.

Hasseltine's work as deputy director of the Kentucky Sports Commission (2005-2008) foretold his Maryland successes. Derrick Ramsey, now athletic director at Coppin State, was his boss at the time.

Ramsey recalls the "Team Kentucky" concept Hasseltine created. He identified 24 jurisdictions in the state, uniting them under one banner. If Frankfort, Louisville or Bowling Green had or wanted an event, the others promoted it.

"It allowed us to sell our local strengths, but also those of the state in general," Ramsey says.

Hasseltine helped negotiate the contract between PGA of America and the Commonwealth of Kentucky that made the state (not the city of Louisville) the official host of the 2008 Ryder Cup.

He moved to Maryland before a ball was played. Hasseltine did that, he says, because it meant a chance to kick-start an organization of his own, and in a state with untold potential.

The budget for his office - $150,000 for the first year, $200,000 for the second - paled in comparison to the $500,000 sometimes available in Kentucky, but he found the variety of venues and sheer diversity of Maryland's athletic landscape irresistible.

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