Front office addition
Saints name new senior director of marketing and business development
The New Orleans Saints today announced the hiring of Conrad "Connie" Kowal as the club's new Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development. Kowal, whose 22-year career in professional sports is highlighted by a 14-year stint with the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball, will replace former Saints Director of Sales and Marketing Wayne Hodes, who has accepted the Vice President of Sales position with MLB's Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"Wayne was an integral part of our growth and marketing success the past three years, including the current streak of 22 consecutive sellouts at the Superdome," said Saints Executive Vice President of Administration Arnold D. Fielkow. "I wish Wayne much success and personal enjoyment with his new position, and I also welcome Connie Kowal into the New Orleans Saints family. He brings limitless energy and a successful track record as an innovative sports marketing and sales executive in a number of arenas."
The bulk of Kowal's 22 years in professional sports were spent with the Cubs, where he served as Assistant Director of Marketing, Director of Minor League Business Operations and most recently Director of Special Events in a 14-year span that lasted from 1985-1998. Kowal's primary duties with Chicago included sponsorship sales, event marketing and the operation of the franchise's minor league clubs.
Kowal left baseball in 1998 to become the Vice President of Marketing and Broadcasting for the Chicago Motor Speedway - a 70,000-seat facility that hosts CART and other automobile racing events. After two years spent overseeing the race track's overall marketing and sponsorship sales efforts, Kowal became Vice President and General Manager of the XFL's Chicago Enforcers in 2000. Under the guidance of Kowal - who oversaw the franchise's entire operation - the Enforcers were one of the XFL's most successful franchises while playing out of Soldier Field in 2001, the league's only season of competition.
Kowal has worked as an independent consultant in the sports and entertainment business - offering sponsorship, marketing, public relations and business development consultation through his firm, "Connie Kowal Sports Marketing." Most recently, he served as Vice President of Sponsorships for the United States Professional Volleyball League from July, 2002 until being hired by the Saints. A 1974 graduate of Western Illinois University following a stellar collegiate baseball career, Kowal began his professional sports career in 1980 as Director of Public Relations for the Chicago Sting soccer club.
"What impresses me most about Connie is his history of success in sports marketing and sales over the course of a varied career," Fielkow said. "Whether in baseball, football, or other sports, Connie has shown the ability to understand the wants and needs of both fans and sponsors, which is critical to successfully operating a professional sports franchise in today's marketplace."
Said Kowal: "I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and trust that Mr. Benson and Arnold Fielkow have shown in my abilities. The New Orleans Saints have both a rich history and an extremely bright future, and I am thrilled to be joining an outstanding organization that is on the brink of many special accomplishments both on the field and off."
Kowal will report directly to Fielkow in his new position, and will oversee the club's marketing and sales efforts. Kowal is married to his wife of 24 years, Sally, and has two children, Lauren (19) and K.C. (18).
Hodes will return to baseball after three seasons spent in New Orleans. He will report directly to Tampa Bay owner Vince Naimoli in his new position, overseeing the club's season and group ticket sales, suite and premium ticket sales, ticket operations, game day event productions, promotions, special events and event staff, guest relations, advertising, merchandise sales, and the team mascot.
"I am grateful for my time spent with the Saints over the last three seasons, however this new opportunity with the Devil Rays was one I could not pass up for my family," Hodes said. "My family and I have made some great friends and enjoyed our time in New Orleans. I am especially grateful to Mr. Benson and Arnold Fielkow for giving me this opportunity. I am also eagerly anticipating the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in Tampa Bay."
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