Leadership / 05.11.22
Andrew Bragman Is a Champion of the Ticket Office
It has been said that baseball is America’s favorite pastime, and it has certainly played a significant role in the life of Andrew Bragman.
“I grew up going to Candlestick Park [in San Francisco] which does not exist anymore,” he says. “It was one of the worst stadiums, with the worst weather, ever created, but that was home for me growing up. We used to go to a ton of baseball games and run around the stadium. There were a lot of fans there, so we knew the ushers, we knew the security, and my brother and I at a young age would just run around the ballpark. It was like a second home.”
Andrew’s dog Uno soaking up the sun in Andrew’s 49ers season ticket seats from Candlestick Park.
He was a batboy in softball, and he played baseball growing up, but Andrew never made it to the big leagues himself. And yet, his most treasured possession is a World Series ring — with his name on it.
“I have a World Series ring from the Nationals, which is tough to beat,” he says, proudly. “Working in this business, it was always one of those dreams that I never thought would actually happen, so my World Series ring is probably, in terms of a physical item, the top of my list. I played baseball growing up and clearly was never going to be playing professional baseball, so the fact that I have a World Series ring with my name on it is one of the coolest things in the world. Getting to take that to show my brother and my dad was one of the cooler things in my life, to be able to say, ‘Hey, here is a World Series ring with our last name on it.’ It is hard to put into words how special that was.”
Andrew, right, celebrates his dad’s 70th birthday in Washington, D.C. with his brother and Uno.
Before taking on his current position as Vice President of Ticket Operations for SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park, Andrew spent four years with the Washington Nationals (who won the World Series in 2019) and before that almost six years with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While the Pirates did not win a championship during that time, they did achieve a remarkable victory in 2013. After 20 straight losing seasons, the longest in North American professional sports history, they made the playoffs and then won the Wild Card Game. For Andrew, it was one of the most memorable moments in his professional life.
“It was like the emotion of an entire city coming out in one night,” he says. “That atmosphere, nothing can compare to your team being bad for 20 years and then all of a sudden something amazing happens. Just being there as a part of that, seeing it in person and getting to be a part of it was amazing.”
The feeling of empathy toward the Pirates that Andrew and so many fans must have felt prior to the team’s amazing turnaround has remained with him through the years, and today he says it is one of the qualities he most admires in others.
“Empathy is really important to me, that somebody is willing to understand how other people are feeling. I think that is key to all of our relationships, personal and professional. If you do not have that sense of understanding what someone else is going through or experiencing, you do not really have the ability to relate to them. That is kind of the core to me.”
Andrew (second from right) with the Nationals ticket ops staff after the All-Star Game in 2018.
The time Andrew spent in ballparks also taught him the importance of humility.
“My first real job was in minor league baseball, where everybody does everything. I think that was one of the most important lessons I learned,” he says. “You would be serving hot dogs one day, dragging the infield one day and being the mascot one day. And that was everybody from the interns to the team president. That is something that, for me, has carried forward. We are all one team, and we all have a common goal. Whatever you need to do to be a key member of the team, whether that is setting up chairs, breaking down chairs, counting seats, nobody is above whatever the specific need is at any given point in time.”
Andrew with Washington Nationals Assistant General Manager Ted Towne after a playoff game at Dodgers Stadium.
While Andrew makes a point of saying that every person he has ever worked for has been, in some way, shape or form, a mentor to him, two of the three he mentions by name are from baseball.
“The first person that I always go back to is Russ Stanley, Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales and Services for the [San Francisco] Giants. I get to make him feel really old every time we talk because he was on my dad's softball team when he was just starting out at the Giants. I have stayed in touch with him from the time I was probably 6 or 7 years old when I was a batboy for his softball team,” Andrew says. “He has been a great sounding board as I try to make decisions, learn and go through different things that I have not experienced before.”
Russ Stanley and Andrew at the 2018 All-Star Game at Nationals Park.
Andrew says, “When I got to Oakland [in 2007 as Assistant Box Office Manager for Oracle Arena, now Oakland Arena], Chris Convery was my boss. He really taught me the business of concert ticketing as opposed to the sports side. Then when I got to Pittsburgh, my boss Chris Zaber was great because he included me in what was going on [in everything] involving tickets besides just the operational side. [This included] sales and marketing and helping me understand the entire piece of the business. Those three guys have all had a huge influence on me and they are all still people I talk to all the time … It inspires me to do the same for other people because they have been better to me than I could ever ask for.”
His professional life aside, when it comes to friends, Andrew says nothing beats having someone in your life who you can trust.
“Somebody who you can talk to, somebody you can be honest with, somebody who you can drop the veil [with]. Everyone has to go into the office, and you have to present things a certain way sometimes but with a friend, it is just being able to be who you are … Just that ability to let your guard down, relax, openly be yourself and they can be themselves. I think that is important,” he says.
Andrew with his parents Jeff and Ilene at the end of the Super Bowl.
Today, Andrew is surrounded by friends and family in his home state of California. His parents live in San Francisco, and he has a brother in Seal Beach, just a half-hour south of Inglewood where he lives with his 3-year-old French bulldog named Uno.
Andrew and Uno at his first baseball game, attending Pups in the Park at a Washington Nationals game.
Andrew and Uno enjoyed the game with other dogs and dog lovers from reserved seats in a special pet-friendly outfield section.
He has been in his current position with SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park for almost three years which have been, to say the least, topsy turvy. Indeed, today Andrew says just getting through this period is his greatest achievement to date.
“[It was] getting through the last couple of years in opening our stadium and our theater in the circumstances we had with COVID-19 and with losing our first year of operations that we were supposed to have going into major events, [including] the Super Bowl and the theater having events three or four nights a week. Seeing that come to fruition, from sitting in a trailer for the first year that I worked out here in a construction site and actually seeing it come to life has been pretty amazing,” Andrew says with obvious pride.
From left, Amanda, Lizzie, Andrew and Jeremy.
He says, “I think more broadly speaking … are the relationships that I have built up through my career. Achievement may not be the right word for that, but the number of people who I have met through working in sports, entertainment and ticketing specifically that go beyond professional relationships, who are real friends, is probably one of the greatest rewards from my career.”
Over the years, Andrew has developed numerous relationships with other members of INTIX, an organization he modestly says gives him more than he will ever be able to put in. And he says this while actively participating as a current board member.
“I am on a text chain with a couple of people who I met through INTIX. We are constantly just checking in on each other, giving each other a hard time and seeing what is going on. [I truly value] the knowledge that I have gotten from people [and] the ability to pick up a phone and call almost anybody in the country who does something with ticketing. I may have never talked to them before. [I can say,] ‘Hey, I am an INTIX member. I am trying to figure out X, Y or Z and I know you have done something similar. How do you do it? How can you help me?’ I also love the ability to be that for other people. INTIX makes those relationships happen. It provides a really great introduction point,” he says.
Andrew continues, “I think relationships are the most valuable thing that I get from INTIX. The skill set, knowledge and everything else that I get from the conference is equally valuable. I can't wait to go back to the conference [in 2023]. I missed  because it was the week before the Super Bowl. I got to watch everybody on Facebook and Instagram hanging out down in Florida, so I can't wait to get back to that … People are generally excited to see everyone and happy; they want to talk, share, learn and socialize. I think it is that experience of being at the conference and the sense of community that we all have because we see the handful of people and talk to the handful of people on a regular basis, but when you get there and you [have] the overwhelming sense of we are all in this together and we are all motivated by the same things.”
In addition to relationship building and networking, INTIX helps Andrew learn about the latest industry trends.
“[I value] the newsletters, the website, just being able to look and see everything that is going on around the business. Because of where ticketing has gone and [because it is] becoming so focused on technology, trying to stay on the cutting edge of what is going on or at least being aware of it [is important],” he says.
Since graduating from Emory University in 2002, Andrew has spent his entire career in ticketing, working his way from the ticket office to the front office and a position of leadership in the industry. What has kept him going?
“I am inspired by success,” he says. “I love seeing things start as a piece of paper and come to fruition. It could be an event, it could be a program we are doing, it could be something else … That feeling of here is an idea or here is a concert or here is something we are going to do and how do we make this work and how do we pull it off [is incredible]. The first event we did at our stadium, really still in the thick of COVID-19, was a Global Citizen concert that was called VAX LIVE, and it was raising money for vaccination worldwide. They raised, I want to say, hundreds of millions of dollars through the TV [broadcast] and the donations … We had never opened the stadium before with fans and we've got 30 days to figure it out before we are going to put this thing on international television — go! It is that challenge and that ability to take something that was this really overwhelming thing on paper and see it happen.”
Andrew and friends from his Emory University days on the field before a Chicago Cubs game on their annual baseball trip.
Andrew makes a point of adding that nobody can devote so much of themselves to doing something in order to be successful unless they really love the work.
“I am happy and thankful every day that I get to do what I do. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I think everybody in our industry feels this way. They love the sports and entertainment business, and they are there because they want to be a part of providing fans with memorable experiences. As corny as it sounds, the smile on the kid’s face when they get to see something is why we do the job” Andrew says.
Andrew with his niece Molly at the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium in 2021.
He says, “Nobody outside of ticketing people really understand what we do. It is not just printing the ticket. The joke we always used to tell on the baseball side, the question was always, ‘Well, what do you do all offseason?’ [The answer is] that is when we do the real work. Then we get to the season, and we get to have games, and that is the fun part, but people who are boots on the ground and doing this day in and day out are the only people who understand what we are doing all the time, all the craziness that goes on, the late nights and the problem-solving. The people who are doing it are heroes for the industry. We are in the shadows, but we are the front door to everybody who wants to come in and see any event anywhere in the world, which is pretty awesome.”
When he is not working, Andrew likes to take his puppy for walks at the beach, play golf and travel, or at least dream about traveling.
Andrew golfing in Bermuda.
“Lake Tahoe is probably my favorite place on earth,” he says. “It is just a perfect environment. Summer or winter, you have the mountains, you can ski and go to the lake. The weather always seems like it's great. It is also another sentimental thing, because growing up, we would go up there all the time. It’s probably my favorite place that I have been. I want to visit South Africa. I need to figure out a way to make that trip happen. I have been lucky. I have been able to travel all over the world, but that is about as remote as you can get from the West Coast. Figuring that one out one day is on my list.”
Andrew also enjoys music, so long as it is not country music. He is a huge Pearl Jam fan. As for making music, he says it is a talent he would like to have but, alas, will have to leave to others.
“It was never a skill set that I had. I tried. I played drums for one year in elementary school. That was not my forte. I have no musical talent or skill whatsoever,” he says.
Although he clearly does have a balanced life, Andrew says if he had the chance to go back in time, he’d probably try to relax a bit more, or at least not be so hard on himself.
“It has taken me a long time to get to the point of loosening the reins a little bit on myself, not with other people. [When] I have something in mind, I am very driven about it. I can become so focused on that one thing, which is a pro and a con sometimes,” he says. “It is great when I am trying to accomplish something, but being able to relax and say, ‘Hey, it is going to work out.’ Sometimes it does not work out; accepting that you have these grand visions and sometimes you get 90% of the way there, and that is pretty impressive. That ability to step back and accept that you cannot control everything.”
And, if he had three wishes, what would they be?
“The ability to not check my cell phone as often. For everyone to understand the downtime that we need. Something I have been focusing on is as simple as when I get up in the morning, not checking my phone first thing. I take my dog out for a walk and then I can come back inside and check my email. [Then, I would wish for] unlimited frequent flier miles so I can do all the traveling I want to do without having to worry about how to pay for it because that is the hardest part. [For a third wish], the ability to cook. I am a terrible cook. My brother is an amazing cook, and my mom is an amazing cook. I missed that gene, so I would love to wake up and be able to do what they can do in the kitchen.”
Uno enjoying the beach.
While he did not list this as one of his three wishes, there is little doubt that Andrew would also like to see the San Francisco Giants win the World Series again.
“I was born and raised a diehard Giants fan,” he says. “My dad grew up in New York when the Giants still played there, so it is a generational thing for our family. It got very complicated a couple of times when I was in Pittsburgh and we played them in the playoffs, having to explain to my friends how I was cheering against the Giants. I said, ‘Yeah, but it [Pittsburgh] is the place I work.’ Now that I am not in baseball anymore, I can say the Giants are my team.”
Andrew (third from right) at Top Golf with the Hollywood Park (SoFi Stadium and YouTube Theater) ticketing team.
And just like his beloved baseball team, Andrew has never let the fear of striking out hold him back. For he knows that everything he and his ticketing team does makes them champions of the ticket office.
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Tags: Leadership , Baseball , Operations