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SBU Sport Management Club students heading to Vegas to work in guest services at the Super Bowl

Jan 31, 2024

In the photo: Front row, from left: Ryan Surmay, Dr. Tiffany Demiris, Hayden Watt, Thomas Gaughan. Back row: Connor Raine, Charles Hilmey, Aliyah Giudice, Ella Smith. Students missing from the photo are Aidan Swayze (shown on cell phone) and Matteo D'Andrea.

SBU Super Bowl contingent for webAt the first meeting of St. Bonaventure University’s Sport Management Club last spring, as students were tossing out lofty ideas and setting their agenda for the academic year, someone suggested they go to the Super Bowl.

“It was mentioned almost in a joking way,” said Dr. Tiffany Demiris, an assistant professor of sport management in the School of Business, and club adviser. “And it was a little funny to me at the time because everyone had all these ideas about what it would be like, yet I was the only person in the room who had actually worked a Super Bowl.”
But never underestimate the power of student enthusiasm, determination, and hard work, especially when mixed with a bit of serendipity.

A couple of months later, while Demiris was attending a conference, a colleague from another university mentioned he was taking students to the Super Bowl to work at the Toyota-sponsored Super Bowl Experience, four days of fan-fun activities leading up to the game, and he gave Demiris a contact for the event.

“They were not accepting new universities,” she said. “However, since our program is in a business school and I had actually worked a Super Bowl and knew the level of commitment it would entail, they ultimately gave me a spot on the roster.”

So on Saturday, Feb. 3, Demiris and nine SBU students will fly out of Buffalo for a 10-day stay in Las Vegas, where they will work Super Bowl LVII. The students were selected based on their level of involvement in the club and their academic record.

Turning the Super Bowl dream into reality was no small task, and the biggest challenge was raising $20,000 to fund the trip. It was important to Demiris that money not be an obstacle to students wanting to participate. “Growing up, I was the poor kid who couldn’t always afford to do things, and I never want to put anyone else in that position,” she said.

Before coming to St. Bonaventure, Demiris had 15 years of experience in food service management, including as a manager for Delaware North, which runs concessions at the Buffalo Bills’ Highmark Stadium. She also worked Super Bowl XLVII for Delaware North. The connection opened the door for Bonaventure students to earn money as concession stand workers at Buffalo Bills games this past season.

Students worked as many games as they could to offset the cost of the Super Bowl trip. One earned enough to defray their cost entirely, and the most any student will pay is $750. “I’m very proud of the fact that I can take nine students to Las Vegas for 10 days and no one is paying more than $750,” Demiris said.

The SBU contingent’s week will begin with training sessions followed by assignments to various guest services roles. “There are multiple things we will be doing. We get to work the Media Day event and then the Toyota fan experience,” Demiris said, noting their exact roles won’t be known until they get there. They’ll even work through the first half of the game itself. 

Participating students include sophomores Aliyah Giudice from Ontario, New York, Charles Hilmey from Buffalo, New York, and Hayden Watt from Brockport, New York; juniors Matteo D’Andrea from Manalapan, New Jersey, Thomas Gaughan from Baldwinsville, New York, Ella Smith from Hillsboro, Oregon, and Aidan Swayze from Spencer, New York; and seniors Ryan Surmay from Cranford, New Jersey, and Connor Raine from Grand Island, New York.

Raine said the group is looking forward to the upcoming journey and experience. 

“The opportunity to take a trip to the first-ever Super Bowl in Las Vegas and to work behind the scenes as an on-campus staff member for various events such as opening night, the Super Bowl Experience, and the game day itself is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “In addition, we will be furthering our knowledge of the sport industry by attending a Las Vegas Golden Nights Game, known for being one of the best fan entertainment venues in the NHL.”

Demiris can’t think of a better, more exciting learning opportunity for the students.

“This is an immersive experience at the number one domestic sporting event of the year,” she said. “It will allow students to see the logistics of putting on the Super Bowl while working in a fan support role to help attendees have the best experience possible. We will be working multiple different types of events with varying hours and lengths of shift. This is exactly what it will be like to work within the industry and it offers valuable insight into the students’ futures as sport managers. The students get paid for their work and get to put this on their resumes.”

There is also a networking event at which students will meet with other sport management students from across the country and with industry representatives.

Demiris said she is grateful for the support students received from the campus community. Rob DeFazio, associate dean for Student Life and director of the Center for Activities, Recreation & Leadership, helped book flights and hotel rooms, and the Jandoli School of Communication provided logistical help. The school has helped send students with campus radio station WSBU 88.3 FM The Buzz to the Super Bowl’s Radio Row for a number of years.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to get hands-on experience in the largest spectacle that takes place each year in the U.S.,” DeFazio said. “Tiffany has done a tremendous job bringing our students this opportunity. I am excited to hear about their experience.”


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. Out of 167 regional universities in the North, St. Bonaventure was ranked #6 for value and #14 for innovation by U.S. News and World Report (2024).