Communication Major’s Website Fills a Need in the Marketplace
November 15, 2018—Jack Griffith ’20 is good at recognizing niches. A lifelong Cleveland sports fan, when he came to Marist from Ohio, he wanted to see the New York Knicks play at world-famous Madison Square Garden. Not being familiar with New York City, Griffith started researching online to figure out the best way for him to get there, where he could find the cheapest food, and other information relevant to a first-time visitor. He wasn’t able to find anything, but an idea was born. Two years later, Griffith’s startup company StadiumQuest (https://www.stadiumquest.com/) is providing informative reviews of the fan experience at a growing number of sports arenas, both professional and collegiate.
Griffith, a junior in the School of Communication and the Arts, is a safety on Marist’s football team. Knowing that he wanted to play college football, he considered both Marist and its Pioneer Football League (PFL) rival, the University of Dayton. However, one of his brothers and a number of friends also attended Dayton, so Griffith preferred to spread his wings. He recalls, “I wanted to explore on my own, and Marist is only a seven-hour drive from home, so it’s far away without being too far. I like that I can still go home at Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Griffith’s decision to play football at Marist has worked out nicely for him, having performed well on the field and being selected to the PFL Academic Honor Roll each of the last two years.
Sports, and writing about them, are a big part of Griffith’s life. He observes, “Team sports teach you to be to be part of a family. Things don’t always go your way, but you learn to compromise for the sake of the team. You come together and strive to achieve a shared goal.” With a double concentration in sports communication and journalism, he has worked hard to develop the quality and depth of his writing, and the Marist faculty has been instrumental in his success. Griffith gives particular credit to Joan Perisse, who had a major impact on him as his college writing instructor. “I wanted to write, and she challenged me. She gave me honest criticism and pushed me, and it improved my writing.”
He also gives great credit to Professional Lecturer of Sports Communication Leander Schaerlaeckens, who serves as Assistant Director for the Center for Sports Communication. “Leander has unbelievable experience at ESPN and elsewhere, and he gave me great advice about my company.” Griffith also became a staff writer at Center Field, the Center for Sports Communication’s student-run blog. Says Griffith, “Being involved in Center Field, and the mentorship I received from the upperclassmen there, just took my writing to the next level.” Schaerlaeckens has been impressed with Griffith’s work ethic and his ability to think outside the box. “Not only is Jack bright and affable, he’s the sort of student who is likely to forge his own path through the sports communication industry. He’s already demonstrated that he’s entrepreneurial and has a knack for seeing opportunities where others don’t. I would not be surprised at all if he creates his own job after graduation, rather than applying to ones that others have made earlier.”
So how did Griffith create the StadiumQuest website, and what’s its business model? Recalls Griffith, “After trying to find information about Madison Square Garden, I started thinking about what makes up the stadium experience for a fan, and I interviewed my friends about what they look for in a sports arena. I’m not a tech guy, so I went through Squarespace to create the website layout. I toyed with different ideas for logos and the overall look and sought input from friends and family.” Griffith got Google AdSense to advertise on his site and cut deals with Lyft and Barstool Sports in which they give him promo codes to share with his followers.
Griffith does the reviews himself by showing up at a venue in a StadiumQuest tee shirt and with StadiumQuest business cards in hand. He talks with people there about their experience and takes it all in. Stadiums are ranked on a scale of one to 100 based on four categories: Pre-Game Atmosphere, Dining, Stadium, and In-Game Atmosphere. He’s found that fans are eager to help, sometimes offering to show him around the park and telling him where the best places to tailgate are.
The list of National Basketball Association arenas reviewed on StadiumQuest includes Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks), the Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets), and the Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit Pistons), while Major League Baseball reviews include Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees), Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox), Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians), Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers), and Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago White Sox). Griffith has also posted reviewes of several well-known college football and basketball arenas in the Midwest. In the future, Griffith hopes that minor league stadiums will pay him to list them on StadiumQuest. In the meantime, in December, he plans a rebrand for the website, which will feature additional user input. He is currently interviewing for spring internships and hopes to spend summer 2019 working in New York City.
After graduation from Marist, Griffith plans to attend law school. “I want to go the prosecutor, district attorney, judge route,” he says. And what about StadiumQuest? “Ten years from now, I think it will still exist in some form. It’s possible I will have sold it, or maybe I’ll let my brother run it since he’s already very involved in the site.” Sports will always remain close to Griffith’s heart, however, and he still harbors dreams of appearing on ESPN. But how would that work for a lawyer? Griffith already has a niche in mind – analyzing the legal side of sports. As his experience with StadiumQuest has taught him, “Find your niche, and you’ll be indispensable.”