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Archive for October, 2014


Oct 16 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 8 (10/13/2014)- The Brazilian Way of Life

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By: Symone Kidd

Music and dance are important parts of the Brazilian identity and culture. The carioca’s, Brazilian locals, definitely love their samba/salsa music, which was something we were able to witness first hand throughout the city of Rio especially in Lapa at Rio Scenarium. Lapa, a neighborhood in between Ipanema and Copacabana Beach is known for its many bars, restaurants and clubs/live music venues. With three floors and two stages Rio Scenarium is one of those venues and is a place I personally will never forget because of the live music, dancing, great atmosphere and vintage décor.

Singer Dhi Ribeiro performed on the first floor main stage along with Leo Benon (cavaquinho), Marcio Bezerra (woodwinds), Felix (7 string guitar), Manga Batera (drums) and Emanuel dos Santos (bass). With views of the main stage from the second and third floors people everywhere danced to the various samba songs and sang along to lyrics as if they were at a concert. On the second floor there was a second stage with three performers that played a style of samba that had a funk feel to it. Also on the second floor was a balcony that looks out onto the people that fill the bars and restaurants that line the street enjoying their meals, cocktails and all of the music. Monica, one of our AustraGroup guides from San Paulo, gave some students a quick samba lesson, which they pulled off greatly in the club allowing them to really fit in and have a good time. Even though some believed they couldn’t get the dance moves down, when the music came on we all were able to partake in this vital aspect of Brazilian culture. Although it was everyone’s first time at a samba club it truly was a great experience because everyone was able to dance and appreciate the music the Brazilian “carioca” way.

Another part of Brazilian culture we were able to experience was the Ipanema Hippie Fair that is held every Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. The Hippie Fair is a great place to find authentic Brazilian art, jewelry, clothing and more! With numerous tents and tables set up this is a great place to bargain for gifts and souvenirs. Many people don’t speak English in Rio however it wasn’t a challenge to communicate with the vendors. I bought several things at the Hippie Fair and even met a very talented artist, Pedro Paulo de Jesus who I bought a very unique Brazilian flag painting from. With my purchase he gave me a business card and a paper in both English and Portuguese that explained his background and accomplishments.

Despite verbal communication barriers something’s that were always understood and shared between the American and Brazilian cultures were being able to feel and move to the soulful sounds of samba music, appreciation for the arts and crafts, and the excitement and entertainment of sports.

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Oct 14 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 8 (10/13/2014)- A Dear Place in My Heart

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By: Charrelle Ragin

Wow, what an experience in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! After returning to the states from Rio de Janeiro this morning, vivid images of the people are still running rampant through my mind. I’ve seen many pictures, and heard many stories surrounding the people of Brazil, but nothing could have prepared me for this amazing 7 day journey. After only a few hours in Brazil, it was obvious the locals were beautiful, vibrant, and full of energy; selling local goods on the streets, taking strolls on the beach, riding bikes, surfing, playing futbol, and/or working ….everyone seemed at peace and HAPPY! After 7 days in what I would deem “paradise”, it is easy to see why people are always smiling.

IMG_8166However, the children of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hands down stole the show! I experienced one of the best moments of not only the trip but of my life during our visit to Sugarloaf Mountain; 6 young Brazilian girls (ages 12-14) caught me by surprise when they ran up to me screaming “BEAUTIFUL”! I was in a state of shock, and utter confusion because I couldn’t figure out why these lovely young ladies were so excited to see me (they were speaking in Portuguese); they stood in front of me with huge smiles, and continued to scream out “beautiful”. The young girls would politely ask me to take pictures (by using hand gestures with their phones); one by one they smiled as we posed for photos together… I then grabbed my phone, and asked Professor Lynn to also take a group picture of me and the girls. After all the initial excitement, the girls then taught me how to SAMBA (Brazilian dance); let’s just say I couldn’t keep up with their dance moves! Afterwards, Professor Lynn would interact with the young ladies; teaching them English, encouraging them to continue their education, and ultimately giving them a speech on how education could also lead them to Georgetown! My classmates looked on taking pictures and videos; many have called the experience with those 6 young girls at Sugarloaf their favorite moment on the trip. Although, those young girls think I made their day ….little do they know they made an everlasting impact on our entire group by touching us with their beautiful souls! October 8, 2014 will forever hold a dear place in my heart.

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Oct 14 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 7 (10/12/2014)- Christ the Redeemer

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By: William Vargas

Christ the Redeemer is arguably one of the most iconic images in the world, and is always visible while in the city. I will begin with the history of the statue which is now categorized as one of the 7 modern Wonders of the World. However, before I do this I would like to say obrigado (thank you) to our tour guide Marcello. Marcello was a walking, talking, fact giving, carioca (Brazilians term for, Rio natives), whom never failed to give us insight to every detail of the city. I thank Marcello because, he made the history part of this blog easy.

As we all walk onto our bus we see Marcello. He was wearing his usual light blue and white plaid shirt, khaki pants, and his habitual slightly crooked smile. We sit down, recline our seats, and wait for Marcello to give us the history of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). Cristo Redntor sits atop The Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest Nation Park. The statue is 30 meters high, 20 meters long and celebrated its 83rd birthday on October 12th. The original idea to build a structure atop Corcovado was proposed by an Italian priest, in 1855. However, it wasn’t until 1920 when, the Catholic Church reintroduced the idea that the planning for the structure began. Rio decided to have an open competition to decide on what the structure should be. The winning design was submitted by a local engineer by the name of, Heitor da Silva. After a few details were changed to the design the construction of this now iconic statue began in 1926 and was completed on October 12th 1931. After Marcello gave us a brief history of the statue, it was time step outside and board a train to the top of the mountain.

The train consists of two red train car, which hold about 30 people each, and both resemble an American trolley car. The train cuts directly through the Tijuca Forest and was originally designed by Brazilian emperor Peter II, in 1855. Initially, the cars were pulled up by animals but, as technology advanced so did the train. Again, obrigado Marcello. The views from the train were spectacular but, they were nothing when held in comparison to the view from top of the mountain. Once arriving, we climbed a few flights of stairs and I myself was humbled. Neither words, nor pictures, are able to correctly portray the feeling one has when looking down on Rio, with Cristo Redntor looking over your shoulder. We all took our touristy photos and a few of us said a prayer in the chapel situated under the statue. One bible verse that came to my mind was Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But, the greatest of these is love.” Love, is the only way to accurately describe Rio, its people, and their culture. Carioca’s love food, music, dance and of course football. They are the kindest and most loving people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Not once was I greeted with anything but a smile and a thumbs up. Even the language barrier did not stop them from treating us all as if we were one of their own. I am sad to be typing this blog from home and I just want to say Rio; I love you, I will be back, and from all of us OBRIGADO!

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Oct 14 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 6 (10/11/2014)- “Vence! Vence! Uma Vez Mais! Flamengo!!!”

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By: Tyson Claure

It’s Sunday and the beach is abuzz this morning. The entire city of Rio de Janeiro is building in anticipation. It’s game day. You can’t walk 100 feet without seeing someone in a shirt or jersey with the famous red and black horizontal stripes. These are the colors of the most popular football club in Brazil, Clube de Regattas Flamengo, known by fans around the world simply as Flamengo. One of the few football clubs to win a World Championship built on a mountain of domestic conquests.

Their home stadium is one of the most famous in the world, Maracana, the showcase venue of the recently completed 2014 FIFA World Cup. Today, our group has the privilege of attending this storied ground. Today, Flamengo (currently in 12th of 20 clubs in the top flight) plays 1st place Cruzeiro. Today, a victory could propel Flamengo up the standings while a loss would widen the gap at the top for Cruzeiro. Today, it’s serious for Flamengo supporters.

As we approach this monstrous stadium that originally had a capacity of 200,000, it is surrounded by red and black movement as far as the eye can see. Maracana has been renovated and downsized to a luxurious 75,000 that will be a little over half full for this match. If you happen to see a small group of fans in Cruzeiro blue they quickly become invisible and mute. Coordinated songs and chants begin with the intention of silencing the opposition and inspiring the players during the match.

We arrive an hour before the match so that Dean Goldwater can provide insight and a brief analysis of the facility to us as we tour the concourse. They do things very differently on game day in Brazil. There are no sponsored tailgates, no corporate signage on the arena facade, no ads along the ramps and concourse, and team merchandise is very hard to find. In my best Portuguese, which I’m told is pretty good, I find a team store hidden away on a lower level that requires me to get clearance from security to leave my concourse then return.

As kickoff approaches, the players appear from the tunnel with a loud roar of acknowledgement from the fans. The National Anthem of Brazil begins and we are the only ones that do not know the words and cannot join in the singing. It’s an impressive sight you may remember from watching Brazil play during the World Cup. At kickoff the field temperature must be at least 100 degrees. Instantly, the most passionate fans seated behind the goal begin to sing:


Which means:


This is the first of many different songs we hear during the match. From a distance, it looks like a sea of black and red during a storm. Bouncing, synchronized arm movements, flags waving side to side, and bass drums thumping like thunder. The energy and coordination is something we will always remember and sets a new standard for fan support we will always compare American sports to. As play continues, a Flamengo player is fouled just outside the box. Most believe it is a penalty but it is not awarded.

Silence is now followed by anxious anticipation.  The crowd begins a mesmerizing chant of “MEN-GOOOOOO!” carrying the “O” for 3 seconds while the players size up the opportunity.  “MEN-GOOOOOO!”  They’ve decided who to take the free kick.  “MEN-GOOOOO!”  The kick is away, just over the crossbar!  A seismic groan immerses from the arena.

IMG_2998Then it happens. In the 16th minute, Flamengo steals the ball in their defensive third of the field and orchestrates a brilliant counter attack that leads to the 1st goal of the match! GOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!! The crowd erupts, flags wave tirelessly, and Flamengo is beginning to establish control. As the match continues Cruzeiro begin to show deficiencies in their attack and midfield leaving their back line exposed to an explosive transition game by Flamengo.

In the second half the opportunities continue and Flamengo scores a second. Now the crowd is REALLY excited. Everybody in the stadium sings the same song and start bouncing, including some of us. The atmosphere is now electric. Four minutes later they follow up with a third goal. It’s pandemonium! As the match reaches the last fifteen minutes Flamengo have emphatically established their dominance with two brilliant second half goals from transition play.

Now they are just playing keep away and toying with the team at the top of the league standings.  With every completed pass the crowd chants “OLÉ!” Flamengo are the bullfighter, Cruzeiro the doomed bull, and the ball is the tantalizing red cape the bull is desperately chasing, hoping to impale. We chant “OLÉ!” at least fifteen times. The bull is tired. The bullfighter unsheathes his sword. The match is over.


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Oct 13 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 6 (10/11/2014)- A Trip to the Maracanã

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By: Cherie Barber

Today in Brazil, the SIM team had the opportunity to attend a Brazilian soccer game in downtown Rio De Janeiro at the Maracanã Stadium; the same stadium where Germany defeated Argentina to win the World Cup! Today’s match was the #1 ranked Cruzeiro soccer club against the hometown favorite Flamengo soccer club.

During our week in Brazil, we’ve heard from top sports executives and local citizens that in the fairly recent past soccer stadiums in Brazil were dangerous places to visit. A lack of security caused crime to be a consistent problem; from pick pocketing to brawls that resulted in serious injury or even death. The crime was so high that women and children did not attend soccer games. In fact, they were not permitted to attend. As a result, many Brazilian soccer stadiums don’t even have women’s restrooms. When asked why the fans behaved this way, the answer was because in Brazil soccer is so important to the culture that it is like a religion. Passions are so high that to many fans, soccer is even a matter of life and death.

So, on our way to the Maracanã stadium, many of us weren’t sure what to expect. The women in our group were wondering if there would be other women at the game or if there would even be women’s restrooms. We were also concerned if we would all be able to sit in the seats we paid for, as assigned ticketed seating was never common  in Brazil. People paid for general admission and sat wherever they wanted in the stadiums.

As we pulled up to the 78,000 seat stadium, we could already begin to tell that Maracanã was a world class stadium with none of the issues of the past. Although built in the 1950’s, originally to hold 200,000 fans, the stadium underwent major renovations to comply with FIFA standards and accommodate the World Cup. The stadium was clean and had new flooring and tiling throughout the concourses and bathroom facilities for both men and women. The concession stands were upgraded and properly spaced along the concourses. There was new signage identifying section numbers and restrooms. There were flat screen TVs spaced throughout the concourses along with an upgraded sound system. The seating was comfortable and the ticketed seating assignments seemed to be adhered to by the fans. Best of all, there were plenty of families there with women and children. The crowd was passionate and a lot of fun! We had a blast experiencing a futbol game the Brazilian way!!!

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Oct 12 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 5 (10/10/2014)- HSBC Arena

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By: Bradley Williams

Today, the SIM Brazil group attended the NBA Global Games preseason exhibition between the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lebron-less Miami Heat at Brazil’s HSBC Arena.  The Cavaliers vs. Heat game was the second NBA game held in Brazil at the HSBC Arena, the first game was the 2013 NBA Global Games exhibition between the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.  The HSBC Arena, formally the Arena Olimpica do Rio (RioArena) is an indoor multi-purpose arena located in the region of Barra de Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hosted the basketball and gymnastics events of the 2007 Pan American Games and is the home of the Flamengo club basketball team.  Construction of the arena was completed in July 2007, GL Events began managing the arena in December 2007 and in March 2008 the arena was given its current name as part of a naming rights agreement with HSBC bank.

As the bus arrived to the arena, first impressions of the outside of the building and neighborhood were impressive for Brazilian standards.  Although, there was construction going on outside the arena for two new Olympic venues directly across the street were several new high rise apartment building and condos.  The ongoing construction did cause the traffic to be congested outside the arena, and without traffic control it was miserable.  As the group proceeded to the turnstiles to enter the arena we initially had trouble navigating the hundreds of fans waiting in line to get into the game.  The crowd management and directional signage were minimal and somewhat confusion (mainly because of the language barrier).  Once through the ticket/checkpoint, it was time to tour the arena with our legendary facilities manager guru Dean Goldwater.  As we began walking through the first level concourse, there were obvious and noticeable difference from the typical NBA arena in the US.  The observations are below:

  • Narrow concourses, low ceiling and dim lighting.
  • Only three permanent food/beverage stations and another 3 temporary concession stands.
  • Arena walls were empty – minimal sponsor, advertisement and directional signage.
  • Only 2 merchandise stands for the thousands of Brazilian fans looking to buy NBA apparel.

Once inside the body of the arena, there were even more obvious difference between the HSBC arena and the typical NBA.

  • The scoreboard video quality was something from the late 1980’s, four 70in screens which had standard definition display.
  • The scoreboard was reminiscent high school score, which was a temporary structure setup in the seated section of on the first concourse.
  • No premium seating sections or luxury suites with the typical amenities available at NBA arenas.

After attending the game and touring the arena I identified multiple opportunities to monetize the arena and enhance the fan experience, strategies that have benefited all major professional sports facilities in the US from concourse entertainment and interactive zones, competitions, team stores selling merchandise and sports memorabilia, sponsor activations, wifi/internet access point, variety of concessions selections (Tex-Mex, Italian), parking and traffic control and sports bars/lounges.

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Oct 12 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 5 (10/10/2014)- NBA Global Game Experience

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By: Jordan Johnson

For many, Friday night was all about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Love. But for most Brazilians, the excitement was to see their fellow Brazilian Anderson Varejao play in the Rio de Janeiro NBA Global Game. Witnessing the very first meeting between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers at the HSBC Arena was nothing short of amazing.

We left as a group three hours before the game to get there on time knowing traffic would be crazy just to get to the arena. Once we got to the HSBC Arena we were engulfed in a large crowd of NBA fans. When I say NBA fans, I mean the fact that there were numerous jerseys of Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Johnson, LeBron James, Anderson Varejao, Dwayne Wade and of course jerseys of Michael Jordan. The NBA did a great job of having plenty of activities for fans to engage in before the game. There were free-throw shooting stations, photo booths, plenty of food and beverage concessions, and even an area where fans were playing the recently released video game, NBA 2K15.

Once you entered the gym you could feel the excitement all around. Fans were screaming every time they saw a dunk in the team lay-up lines during pre-game warm ups.  They honored NBA legends Pat Riley, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton and Steve Smith. In game entertainment included the dance teams for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat, as well as both mascots from the teams which were the highlights were for most young fans. Because the game was broadcasted on ESPN, we all had a feeling that LeBron James, Kevin Love and Dwayne Wade would play most of the game, which they did.  The players put on a show for the fans and it turned out to be a good game.

Another student and I got a chance to watch some of the game on the lower level near the court, and luckily for me it ended up being two quarters. Rookie Shabazz Napier was clutch in the 4th quarter to single handedly bring the Miami Heat back from a double digit deficit to force overtime. The Cavaliers ended up winning the game by three points in overtime.  Witnessing the NBA experience in another country was very exciting and the show the players put on for us made it even better. The game was definitely a memorable game for us and for the people of Brazil.

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Oct 11 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 4 (10/09/2014)- Confederação Brasileira de Futebol

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By: Kate Goldstein

Our professors definitely saved the best for last. Our final day of meetings started off with a personal presentation of the long road that is the preparations for the 2016 Olympics by the deputy CEO of the Rio Olympic Committee, Leonardo Gryner.  It was a hard act to follow, however our presentation at the CBF, Confederação Brasileira de Futebol or the Confederation of Brazilian Football, was truly an amazing experience. Manoel Flores, the National coordinator between FIFA and CBF as well as the match day operations manager, spoke to us on the history, division system, and culture surrounding the CBF. Following his presentation we were given a special tour of the brand new and interactive CBF museum that boasts the lush history of the CBF and national pride that is Brazilian Football.

TIMG_9448he CBF was founded in 1914 and has been filled with a rich and colorful history. The CBF has two main focuses of business. One line of business is the focus on the national teams and competitions concerning the Olympics, World Cup, under 21 cup, under 17 cup, and under 15 cup. The other line of business is competitions within Brazil. This covers the official 11 CBF competitions, every competition within the four divisions, the national cup, under 21 cup, under 17 cup, under 15 cup, women’s championship, and women’s cup. Although women’s sports here in Brazil are far behind the times it is a requirement of FIFA and the legacy of the world cup that 50% of legacy proceeds’ goes to women’s sports.

Football is by far the most popular sport in Brazil and, as Mr. Flores told us, is like a religion here. The football system here in Brazil is very unique compared to the rest of the world. The CBF contains four divisions, 20 clubs for the first  three divisions and the fourth division has 40 clubs. The top clubs like those in the G-12, have a huge and unprecedented number of fans. The Flamenco team has close to 30 million fans, almost the population of Argentina. The CBF consists of 27 different states within Brazil that elect the current president of the CBF along with the top twenty teams in the first division. The way the division system works from year to year to determine who is in what division is wholly unique to Brazil. The bottom four teams from every division at the end of the season get relegated down to the next division and the top four teams move up to the next division. In the event of a team getting relegated to a lower division you find people on the brink of suicide. This is important to understand the culture surrounding these teams and the emotion and devotion tied to these clubs.

What are the plans for the next five years for CBF following the World Cup and with the upcoming Olympics? Some of the big-ticket issues are the complete reconstruction of the management of these clubs. The biggest problem faced by football clubs today is the complete lack of money and enormous debt. These clubs are run through government legislation and in turn their debt is completely owed to the government. Debt refinancing by the Brazilian government will be key in the survival of these clubs. Another change will be to the financial structure within these clubs. Right now all club money goes to the players. Coaches and staff are supposed to be volunteers. Asking someone to manage a club full time without being paid and keep track of millions of Real’s a year is completely impractical.

Mr. Flores mentioned the complete lack of grassroots system in place for player development within Brazil. However driving around Rio the past few days you would have to close your eyes to not see the hundreds public turf fields, and beach soccer goals set up. They may not have a legitimate grassroots system in place but they sure do have an environment that promotes soccer at the youngest age. Football is truly a religion here in Brazil.

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Oct 11 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 4 (10/10/2014)- Rio 2016 Organizing Committee

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By: William Tucker

Friday was a fun day for our group here in Rio. After the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup this past summer, attention in the city has turned towards the upcoming 2016 Olympics Games. After another early breakfast, our morning meeting found us at the downtown headquarters of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games where we had the incredible opportunity to hear from it’s deputy CEO Leonardo Gryner. The organizing committee is the main body tasked by the International Olympic Committee with the planning and organization of the Olympic Games for a given host city. It works closely with local, state, and federal governments as well as other stakeholders on all aspects of Games organization. Naturally, for those reasons, you could sense that this was one of the most anticipated meetings of the week!

Rio 2016 LogoMr. Gryner’s presentation focused heavily on their concept for the 2016 Games and the strong legacy that the Games will leave for not only the city of Rio de Janeiro but the whole of Brazil as well. The organizers plan on taking advantage of Rio’s breathtaking landscape and cityscape in its four main zones: Barra, Deodoro, Maracana, and Copacabana. The main Olympic Park along with most of the competition venues plus the Olympic Village will be located in the new, developing area of Barra. Other venues will be located all around the city in famous and historical settings such as Copacabana beach and the Rio Sambadrome. A common theme throughout Mr. Gryner’s presentation was Rio 2016 as a transformation for the city and it soon became clear that this was more than just talk. Venue construction, infrastructure upgrades, as well as cultural and educational outreach will leave Rio de Janeiro and Brazil with a lasting legacy;

–          The first public golf course in Brazil

–          The first Olympic Training Center in South America

–          Renovation of national sports infrastructure through new venues

–          The second largest public park in the city

–          70 new hotels for Rio

–          The first high-capacity public transport link to an airport in Brazil

–          Multi-million renovation of city’s port area

–          …and so much more

These are just a handful of the transformation that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will have on the city and you could tell that Mr. Gryner was so excited to be a part of this exciting change. A short question and answer session followed with students with topics ranging from social media, security, integration of the Paralympic Games, transportation, and even how we could get involved! Our meeting left us with a greater sense of what goes into planning the Olympic Games and I have no doubt that many of us will be back in two years time to see these plans in action.

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Oct 11 2014

Brazil 2014: Day 3 (10/09/2014)- Raj Saha from Anshutz Enterntainment Group (AEG)

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By: Philip Oertle

On Thursday night we met with Raj Saha from Anshutz Enterntainment Group, better known as AEG. Mr. Saha was originally hired by our very own Dean Goldwater to work at the Madison Square Garden in New York City back in 1998. He started his career with AEG in 2006 when he was appointed to take care of the Michael Jackson concerts at the O2 Arena in London. He told us about the challenges that the sudden passing of Mr. Jackson presented them with as it meant that 50 days opened up in the arena calendar that were not affiliated with any single sports team.

IMG_4239Raj also talked about the opportunities AEG was able to take advantage of in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics. He discussed how they are trying to apply the lessons learned from London to achieve even better results than in Brazil. It was very apparent that what made Mr. Saha so successful at his job was his understanding of the peculiarities of the cultures in the countries AEG does business in.

When asked about the biggest challenges he had to face here in Brazil he mentioned that before the World Cup there was a lack of adequate stadiums to host events in. He also said that the big problem now was that there are no adequate indoor arenas that meet international standards for major events. This is another problem that is important for AEG to solve as their core business includes music concerts. For example Rock in Rio, an event that takes place over the span of six nights, is always sold out.  It has featured major internationally renowned starts including the Rolling Stones.

Mr. Saha left us with several tips to successfully land a job abroad: learn the local language, take care of your work visas, do not come with an American one size fits all attitude, scale your experience to the local challenges and last but not least, ask a lot of simple questions.

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