Welcome back to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Manager of Corporate Partnerships with the San Diego Gulls, Mike Tannenbaum!

Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?

I’m Mike Tannenbaum and I’m the Manager of Corporate Partnerships with the San Diego Gulls Hockey Club (AHL) and have had similar positions in corporate partnerships with professional sports teams and sports marketing firms (including Sporting Kansas City, Philadelphia Eagles, the Miami Dolphins, Churchill Downs Racetrack, the National Football League Office and Octagon Sports Marketing to name a few), I have cultivated new partnership associations and managed a portfolio of for-profit, non-profit, national and local partners. Through creative approaches and identifying the interests of clients, I have enhanced the value of existing partner contracts as well as generated new partnership relationships. I created and successfully oversaw a diverse array of marketing initiatives and events across all platforms. I developed, tracked and ensured the activation of all contractual elements. By providing outstanding customer service I built solid relationships with corporate partners, community leaders and supporters. 

Mike Tannenbaum


What does a normal week look like for you?

A lot depends if we are “in-season or in the off-season (although in sports there really is no off season as you may know)”  No one day is the same which I love and there is constant work to be done. The best activations and events require detail and preparation. During season I am busy supervising activations pre-game, community, concourse tabling, arena and field/ice promotions, game day events and various fan programs. I go to the arena several times to make sure all signage and other activations are properly set up well in advance of game-day.  During the game, I ensure that special participation by sponsors or their chosen fans in-game VIP Fan Experiences occur at the right time and in the correct manner, I also document all partnership elements during the game for mid-and post season summaries. I also create game day timelines for my department down to the very second of each game or event.  In the off -season, time is filled with  preparing  and presenting partner recaps, planning and scheduling for the next season , meeting with partners to resign contracts and upsell their commitments for the next season,  updating logos, signage, and memorabilia and preparing for special events as well as developing Business to Business networking events. 

Mike Tannenbaum


How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?

I was always a sports enthusiast both as a fan and participant. I played soccer, rugby, football, basketball, hockey, lacrosse and did weightlifting etc. I played football and Rugby in college for DIII Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. I was fortunate to combine my interest in athletics with a degree in Sports Media and a minor in Marketing. Through diligence, I secured a wide variety of internships with several sports marketing companies including The Washington Nationals, Washington Wizards, Georgetown University, and Octagon Sports Marketing, National Football League office in NYC, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Miami Dolphins.  In addition, I was very active besides my NCAA football participation on campus through the following:

  • Participant, International Sports Administration Program (London, Scotland)
  • Ithaca College Men’s Rugby
  • Sport Management and Media Student Mentor Program
  • American Marketing Association
  • Sport Event & Networking Club-Ithaca College Vice President (2008-09)
  • Sport Business & Entertainment Club-Ithaca College Co-President (2008-09)
  • Host of weekly sports broadcast on WICB and VIC radio stations
  • Sports staff writer for “The Ithacan” Newspaper
  • Varsity Player- Ithaca College Bombers Football Team
  • Football representative to Student Athlete Advisory Committee.


What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?

Hoping to get fans back! The covid-19 challenges, which do still provide an opportunity to be creative in ways to engage partners, provide unique brand exposure and reach fans. The increase use of social media and technology to enhance the experience for fans and partners who are either not able to be present or there are limitations on the respective attendance is exciting. Constantly looking for new ways to enhance the experience for fans and demonstrate a ROI for partners.  

Mike Tannenbaum


What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?

ROI on investment for partners and securing their satisfaction with their sponsorship relationship with the Team. 

In your area of work, what is something you feel most people don’t talk about or focus on enough?

Building lasting and profitable relationships among partners. For example, finding ways they can partner with each other in connection with their relationship with the sports organization. 


What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?

Obtain as many internships as early as possible in your career. Make sure you network while doing them. Try to get as much diverse practical hands-on experience as possible – working all departments. Increasingly, there is a demand for knowledge of sports analytics and digital media. Make sure you cultivate those skills as well. 

How to follow Mike Tannenbaum on social media…

You can follow me on both Twitter and Instagram, I’m also on LinkedIn and a part of Sports Business Solutions’ theClubhouse Network Mentor, here’s a link to my profile. Here’s a link to what we do at the San Diego Gulls.

Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Mike Tannenbaum! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.