Kelly’s future has “super” outlook

Michael Kelly has been involved with some of Tampa Bay?s biggest sporting events.

After leading the marketing effort for the 1999 Final Four and Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, Kelly was brought to the USF athletics department in June 2001 as associate athletics director in charge of external affairs.

Almost a year after starting at USF, the Super Bowl came calling again, and Kelly couldn?t pass up the opportunity.

Kelly leaves USF at the end of May and will take up his new position as president and chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee on July 1.

The game is not until Feb. 6, 2005, but Kelly said he needs an early start because Jacksonville is a first-time host city.

?Obviously, with a city that?s never hosted it before, there?s a need for additional time to get everything organized,? he said. ?That?s why it?s basically a three-year project.?

Kelly?s main duty is to be the primary liaison between the NFL and the community, similar to his role as executive director for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl XXXV Task Force. He was also executive director for the Tampa Bay Final Four Organizing Committee from 1998-99, when he first worked closely with the host institution, USF.

Since joining the USF athletics department last year, Kelly has been in charge of business development and marketing. Some of his duties include marketing the sports program to the community and spearheading season ticket sales.

?In general, we had a lot of accomplishments. It continues to lend credence to the plan that we?re going to be successful here,? Kelly said. ?As we continue to be smart about laying our foundation and continue to build on the successes we?re having, then we?ll keep getting better attendance-wise, and that building will get built. Things are on the right path, no question.?

Deputy Athletics Director Corey Johnson said the profile Kelly built up in the Tampa Bay area is an intangible benefit to USF.

?When you look at a person that, over the last several years, had dramatic impacts on the Super Bowl and the Final Four here, and you look at the interaction that?s been with corporate leaders that are the decision-makers, it?s hard to measure that value,? Johnson said. ?But it?s almost immeasurable when you look at the identity that?s already there with that person.?

Kelly coordinated various areas within the department, including not only marketing and sales, but also fundraising, sports information and corporate sponsorship.

?The one strong aspect that he has laid out for us is a really united and coordinated effort when it comes to all our external operations,? Johnson said. ?When you look at tying in from the Athletic Association to our ESPN, to our ticket sales, the marketing aspect and wrapping in sports information and media, he?s brought a real professional approach as well as a philosophy on how they all work together.?

As far as season ticket sales for football and men?s basketball are concerned, the past season saw mixed results. Season ticket sales for football declined steadily from 17,678 in 1999 to 15,551 in 2000 and 14,617 in 2001.

But Kelly can boast a 27 percent increase in basketball season ticket sales this season, from 2,384 in the 2000-01 season to 3,022 in the just-concluded season.

There were also attendance milestones, such as the Homecoming game vs. Houston that saw the highest attendance for a USF game at Raymond James Stadium and a sellout for the men?s basketball game vs. Florida in December.

?And there are still some exciting things coming up in the rest of my time here,? Kelly said. ?So I?m grateful I?m able to finish the transition in terms of hopefully being able to formally and publicly announce where we are with our capital campaign, and actually going into the public arena with that capital campaign before this academic year is over.?

In the rest of his time at USF, Kelly said he will continue working on budget and revenue forecasts for external departments and marketing plans for all sports, and he will also finish off his involvement in staffing changes within the department.

Then it?s off to Jacksonville in June.

?He?s a very intelligent, articulate and well-respected young man,? Johnson said. ?He?s got a great future ahead of him.?