Marketing and PE Students Make a Case for Pro Soccer Expansion

L to R: Jaxon Leindecker; Stella Dolan; Silas Bitter

L to R: Jaxon Leindecker; Stella Dolan; Silas Bitter

In October, three Bemidji State University students competed in the 2023 Cornhusker Business Case Competition hosted by the University of Nebraska. The competition allows undergraduate teams to apply analytical and problem-solving skills to a real-world sports business case.

For this year’s case, competitors were “hired” by an investment group looking to launch a Major League Soccer expansion franchise. BSU’s team — Jaxon Leindecker, a junior physical education major from Bemidji; Stella Dolan, a senior from St. Paul with a dual major in marketing communication and sport management; and Silas Bitter, a senior accounting major from Red Wing — developed a proposal for expansion to Indianapolis. Their proposal, which would create the Indy Legends, playing in the city’s Eleven Park, was pitched to city officials, an investment group and MLS leadership. They analyzed the economic opportunity for the city, along with social and environmental implications. They also ascertained key financial and operational details and designed a unique value proposition for fans and the league.

The trip was a collaboration between BSU’s departments of sport management and business administration. Dr. Eric Forsyth, professor of sports management, and Dr. Kelly La Venture, associate professor of business administration, coached the BSU team.

“These three students worked tremendously well as a team,” La Venture said. “They built on each other’s strengths and dedicated a significant amount of time outside of their other responsibilities to prepare for this competition.”

Dolan, who brought a unique perspective through her double major in sport management and marketing communication, said the competition was “highly competitive.”

“We felt we had an amazing presentation, and it was an awesome experience,” she said.

The trip was BSU’s first to the Nebraska Case Competition.

“The students received excellent feedback from the judges and we’re incredibly proud of them,” La Venture said. “The team gathered a great deal of information and would love for more students to have this experience right here in Bemidji.”

La Venture and Forsyth are now exploring ways to bring a similar event to BSU.