SBJ/20100308/Forty Under 40
Published March 8, 2010
Shawn Tilger can trace the start of his career to the day he suffered a serious shoulder injury during football training camp his senior year at Lafayette (Pa.) College.
“My biggest disappointment was also my biggest opportunity,” Tilger said.
With his playing days finished prematurely, Tilger became a student assistant coach at Lafayette and thought seriously about working toward a head coaching job at the college level.
To earn the master’s degree many schools require for those jobs, Tilger studied sports management at Springfield (Mass.) College, where he was a graduate assistant. He completed an internship for the Philadelphia 76ers, and the connections he made in the NBA led to a job as regional marketing manager for the Harlem Globetrotters, covering 38 cities annually over three years.
“Baptism by fire,” Tilger said, describing the frenetic pace of selling tickets, keeping the books and marketing the Trotters.
He kept in touch with his friends in Philly, and in 1998 Tilger was hired as marketing director at Wachovia Center. He moved quickly up the ladder, becoming the arena’s vice president of marketing in 2000 before moving to the Flyers in the same position from 2002 to 2004.
Tilger does a great job of developing successful marketing programs to support the ticket sales staff, said Peter Luukko, president and chief operating officer of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Flyers and the arena. Too often in sports, there’s a breakdown in communication between the two departments, Luukko said.
For example, Tilger, now in his seventh season as the Flyers’ senior vice president of business operations, has been instrumental in developing the Flyers Ticket Marketplace on the team’s Web site, where more than 80 percent of the team’s season-ticket holders share tickets.
Most recently, he was primarily responsible for the Flyers’ generating $400,000 in gross income from the recent NHL Winter Classic in Boston.
Tilger developed travel packages to Beantown for fans attending the game and special events at the South Philly Sports Complex tied to the Winter Classic, where fans could pick up their tickets and buy special-edition merchandise. Not bad for a road team.