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Friday, Jan 27, 2023
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Playing in The Sand At CSUN

Sure, Cal State Northridge is in sunny Southern California, but its Valley campus is not exactly a stone’s throw from the beach like, say, Pepperdine University’s. But you might not know that if you watched a recent practice by the women’s sand volleyball team – as in played on real sand in the middle of campus. The $350,000 facility was scheduled to debut March 5 in a match against UCLA, and the team – which last year indeed played its matches on the shore in Malibu – can thank Athletic Director Brandon Martin. Since Martin came to the school in 2013 from the University of Oklahoma, where he was an assistant athletics director, CSUN has revved up its fundraising, signed up new sponsors and added VIP boxes to the MataDome, the school’s 1,600-seat indoor sports complex, with a marketing campaign targeting corporate buyers. It even redesigned its logo to modernize the image of the Matadors, showing a bullfighter with cape in hand. “We wanted something distinctive, iconic and enduring that represents more than a logo – it represents a relationship to our alums, staff and students,” said Martin, 40. Since the reboot, attendance at men’s basketball games is up 65 percent and women’s volleyball rose 15 percent, while revenue from sponsorships increased 963 percent. Women’s sand volleyball was added as the school’s 19th intercollegiate sport last year. And just last week, the school announced a $500,000 donation to the Matador Excellence Fund by an alumnus. Last year, Martin signed the school’s first sports merchandising agreement, designating retailer Sport Chalet Inc. in La Canada-Flintridge the official apparel provider for the Matadors. It didn’t hurt that Chief Financial Officer Howard Kaminsky is a CSUN alumni. The chain now carries CSUN gear at several stores in the San Fernando Valley. As part of the deal, consumers who have Sport Chalet’s Action Pass discount card can designate CSUN as their school and the chain will give CSUN Athletics a 3.3 percent cut of all purchases. The agreement “allows the student body, fans, community advocates and alumni to give back to CSUN’s athletics program,” Kaminsky said in a statement. The school also made Providence Health & Services the official health care provider for the Matadors. The non-profit owns Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills. Martin said adding beach volleyball as a sport was a “no brainer” for the rebranding campaign, given the sport’s popularity. – Joel Russell

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.
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