Good Relationships, Target Demographics to Metal Detectors: How Ticketing and Security is Handled at the UPMC Events Center


Ethan Morrison

Photo Credit: Ethan Morrison

Michael Deemer, Head Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP– It is no secret that you must enter a sporting event, concert, or show with a ticket and you must go through security at the gate. Of course, Robert Morris University’s on-campus UPMC Events Center is no different —but what is the process like behind the scenes?

Scott Zimmerman is the General Manager of the building, employed by Oak View Group and nicknamed by his former colleagues and coworkers in the business as the ‘ticket guru’ which is his Twitter handle. Zimmerman spent 18 years in the ticketing business until he was the first employee of the Events Center in January 2019.

One of the most critical aspects of the ticketing business is knowing who your audience is. What is the target audience for the event? With different types of genres of music and live events coming in and out, there are other platforms Zimmerman uses to reach the right audience.

“Doing things like social posts, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram,” Zimmerman said. ”Knowing your audience is also very important. What’s the target demographic? Who are we going after? What platform are you going to use to go after them? If I’m going after [college students], I’m certainly not spending all my money on Facebook advertising. [They] probably spend a lot more time on a whole lot of other apps. I’m assuming Instagram is probably one of the more popular right now. So we’re doing a lot of that.”

Alexa Yanyanin is the Director of Ticket Sales and Operations for the athletic department. Yanyanin previously was employed by the Wheeling Nailers as a Ticket Manager and has been in her position at RMU for just a week. Still, she already knows how important her role is for the university.

“I think it’s very important,” Yanyanin said. “The revenue generated keeps the athletic department afloat. There’s only so much you can do if there’s no money being brought in. The importance of season ticket holders’ groups, maintaining those good relationships with those people is crucial. Having them come back year after year to ensure not only their patronage but the revenue. That’s the most important thing.”

“In the selling aspect of my job, it’s a lot of calling, emailing, reaching out, setting appointments and getting that face-to-face interaction with people is really important to me,” Yanyanin said. “That way, it’s harder for them to say no to you. I want to have a lot more in-person interactions with local athletic directors, high school athletic directors, high school coaches, youth coaches, and bantam.”

Zimmerman explained how bands and other entertainment shows are book in the UPMC Events Center.

“We book a show with a promoter. The promoter agrees to the financial conditions of the show. The promoter provides ticket prices and how many seats are at each of those prices, which is called scaling. We then build that scaling and get into an agreement with them because at the end of the day, it is their show and we’re a party to it. Then, we build the show on the ticketing system.”

With each event, entertainment or athletic, comes security measures. Jodi Hummert is the Director of Operations of the arena and oversees all the behind-the-scenes operations, including security. She says that the UPMC Events Center is a safe environment for every event the second you get there to the second you leave.

“The majority of large events we have here use metal detectors at the gates,”Hummert said. “So we either use our own in-house staff, depending on how many people we need, or we hire landmark security, event security, who does security all over the city, Heinz Field (now Acrisure Stadium) , Petersen Events Center and so forth. We hire them to check and work the metal detectors. We check bags. If something goes off, we’ll check and scan them.”

“We have our prohibited items and what’s allowed inside the building. That’ll be on our website. We send a Know Before You Go for our concerts so that anyone who’s purchased tickets it’s on our social media sites as well as it’s on our website as well. If you purchase tickets or Ticketmaster, it’s sent to you all the information that you need to know before you arrive.”

The ticketing and security at the UPMC Events Center require a lot of workers and communication across the board. Remember that the next time you attend an event there, keep an open mind because of all of the behind- the- scenes work that got it up and running.