By pre-business major Ben Malisewski
I am writing from Coventry, late on Tuesday night, after our trip into London for the day today. But before I get to the events of today, I have to share a funny story:
There was a large group of people who went to the tour of Buckingham Palace on Saturday while we were still in London. Every year, the palace is only open for tours on select dates, and we were there on the last day of the tour window. Inside the palace was absolutely stunning – so rich, so lavish. It is a style we do not see in modern times. As we walked through the palace, there was a special exhibit for the Diamond Jubilee that commemorated the queens 60th year of service to her country, which the country celebrated back in June. As we were walking through the exhibit, a woman turned to me and asked me if we all went to the U of A – not “University of Arizona” – but U of A, so I knew she had some connection to the university. I said yes, and explained that we were part of a study abroad/internship program in the UK (although the internship is not looking to promising – another story for another post). She asked where I was originally from, to which I said Tucson and she chuckled. She was from Tucson, and had a son at Catalina Foothills and a daughter about to enter Salpointe! Remind you, I am 5000 miles away from home, and yet I still run into someone that is sending her daughter to the high school that I graduated from….what a small world we live in!
So, to bring you up to speed, we returned to Coventry Sunday afternoon, and had class on Monday, and a group dinner at the hotel restaurant Monday night. We had a similar day planned for Tuesday, but the professors called an audible and decided that we were going to go into London for the day, and have class at Coventry’s City Centre campus, as well as visit Wembley Stadium and Emirates Stadium. For those of you who do not know, I am a HUGE fan of European football, so to get to see these two stadiums in one day was fine by me 🙂
We started at Wembley Stadium, which is the home for the English national team, as well as many other sporting event. No other stadium in Europe has more covered seats than they do – roughly 90,000. With the amount of rain that has fallen here in the past 2 weeks, I can see why that is something to brag about. Our tour began overlooking the “pitch” as they like to say, as we all marveled at the beauty of the stadium. The acoustics in the stadium are meant to keep noise in, and our guide had us all shout the phrase “Hello, Wembley” so we could hear the vibrations. (Side note – “Hello, Wembley” are the first words uttered from almost every band that plays at the stadium when they come on. It has become a tradition). It seemed pretty loud with 46 of us, so I can only imagine what 90,000 passionate fans would be like. We then wandered down to the media room, and all got to sit at the table where the managers and players address the media after matches. Unfortunately, nobody was dressed funky enough or had big enough fake glasses to pull of the NBA post-game look.
The tour continued and we got to see the home and away locker rooms, walk out the tunnel that leads to the pitch as both teams do before the match, and lastly take a picture with the FA cup, the oldest cup in English football if I am not mistaken, and is the culmination of a tournament that features both professional and non professional clubs pitted against each other.
After the tour, we grabbed some lunch and had class, and then took the train to Arsenal, and got to see Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal Football Club. Our tour was similar to that of Wembley Stadium, in that we started by overlooking the pitch, made our way down and out the tunnel, and were able to see the locker rooms for the home and away teams. Both of these stadiums were absolutely magnificent, and only increased my desire to see a football game in person in England. One day!
The best part of the day was when we concluded our Emirates Stadium tour with a guest lecture presentation from Tom Fox, an chief executive for Arsenal, originally from Chicago. He talked to us about the his experience with Arsenal, and the focus of his talk was how the English Premier League and Arsenal differ from American sports leagues and their teams. The biggest difference is that Arsenal owns the rights to market their club, not the English Premier League, as opposed to American leagues, where, for example, the Miami Heat can market their own arena and everything in a 70 mile radius of it, but they cannot sell their brand abroad, because they have to go through the NBA to do so. Much easier to brand yourself internationally if you are an EPL team.
He also made it clear the difference between a team and a club. He had one quote that put it perfectly, and the exact wording of it is escaping me, but it was something to the effect that fans interact with a team, but belong to a club. Football is a part of people’s lives in England, and for many it is the most important thing they have in their opinion. Heck, he told stories of people selling their houses and flats in order to pay for their season tickets. English football truly is an immense aspect of people’s lives, and effects their day to day life. Working with a fan base like that creates challenges, but seems to be extremely rewarding when success comes. It was a really interesting presentation, and made me want to work for a club in England. I don’t know if I could move here and actually do it , but he sold our group on how he loves working for this club, and that it is a great place to be.
The schedule for tomorrow calls for class as well as a cricket match! That will be a first for me, so you can expect to hear from me about that one. I am off to bed, I need some sleep!