As has been the story for many around the world in 2020, St. Cloud State University alumnus Jason Meszaros has also seen the many impacts the coronavirus pandemic has had on his life and career.
Specifically, for Meszaros, who graduated from St. Cloud State in 2017 with a Master of Business Administration degree in business administration and management, he has been involved in the ever-changing sports industry which has been heavily impacted.
After holding a few different roles such as project manager and senior manager within the Minnesota Twins technology department since 2016, Meszaros currently holds the title of Director of Technology Infrastructure and Information Security with the organization.
Essentially, Meszaros is responsible for all the technical infrastructure of the Twins’ home stadium, Target Field. Everything from their Cisco converged network, to broadcast and production systems, point of sales software, Wi-Fi, TV’s and anything else technical.
“Anything under the cyber security realm falls under my scope. Anything in the infrastructure realm is something that I own, and I am accountable for,” he said. “When I came in and was handed different projects like the security project, it was just a natural fit and I took the ball and ran with it.”
This year, however, the ever-changing world of the sports industry threw a few more curveballs the way of the Meszaros and the Twins organization. Although a bulk of behind-the-scenes duties have remained the same, the biggest impact COVID-19 has had on the organization is the reduction in the amount of income brought in and how that will halt projects and upgrades moving forward.
“It’s been a challenge to deal with. On one hand, it didn’t change a whole lot because we still have to have a working network and have all of our broadcast systems going. The actual functioning of running a baseball game didn’t change,” he said. “What changed was we no longer had to have the tickets scanned at the gates. We saw our network traffic drop significantly. When we’re not selling tickets, we’re not making any money.”
“The Twins saw a significant decrease in revenue this year, which has already started to impact the projects and our ability to do any type of upgrades. It’s had a really dramatic impact from that perspective. It’s hard to spend money when you’re not making money.”
Being involved in the sports industry
Meszaros has had an interest in sports his entire life. When he was finishing up college, he had the goal of becoming a college volleyball coach, which he did for six years.
After deciding that wasn’t the path he wanted to continue down, Meszaros — who has a technology background after spending time in the Army — shifted his life into the technical world and is happy to have that take place in a sports setting with the Twins.
“Sports are something I’ve always been interested in. It’s always been kind of a natural fit and I just really enjoy being around sports,” he said. “There’s never a dull day. (In September), when we installed our new drone detection system, I got to climb to the top of the scoreboard and mount a radar system up there. That’s not something that happens in a normal job like I’ve had in the past. It’s different every day, we always have different challenges and it’s just fun. You get to watch a lot of baseball and you get very passionate about it.”
While working mostly behind the scenes within the organization, Meszaros enjoys the wide range of entertainment opportunities he and his team provide for everyone who enters Target Field, especially for Twins games.
“There’s a whole lot that goes on behind the curtain that most people don’t know about. It took me a little bit to figure out, but the Twins are not a baseball company. We play baseball, that’s our product, but Target Field is an event venue. Our events just happen to be baseball games,” he said. “We have one of the best baseball venues in the country, in my opinion. From a technology perspective, all the ticketing systems, the scanning modules at the gates, we have to make sure we have things backed up so we don’t have any sort of outage. We have a robust system, because that’s our livelihood. We just have to keep things running and moving within the stadium.
“Outside of baseball, we have all kinds of other events. We have Veterans’ events, trade shows, wine and beer events, we host business events and weddings. We’ve hosted concerts, football and soccer events. It’s an event space, that’s really what it is. Baseball just happens to be our main event.”
Although the past year has been an eventful one for Meszaros in an ever-changing environment, he is happy in his role with the Twins and hopes to be able to enjoy the experiences he and his team provide with others once again in the near future.
“I ended up landing at this job and I’m just happy. It’s not high stress and I get to watch baseball. I don’t plan on leaving,” he said. “I’m just enjoying my time here. I now just wish we can get back to having people in the stands.”