Powerbook: R. Eric MenzerSports
People who have worked with York Revolution President and General Manager R. Eric Menzer describe him as someone who impresses people in a general way.
When pressed, they give examples of his abilities that might seem mundane at first.
Joe Wagman, CEO of York-based Wagman Construction Inc., remembered Menzer's idea for a short bridge connecting a downtown redevelopment project to a public parking garage when there was a lack of apparent parking spaces at the site.
Neil Fortier, vice president of York Revolution Professional Baseball, talked about a towing issue in a parking lot near the stadium that Menzer was able to remedy because he knew who to call and work out a deal.
And Peter Kirk, chairman of Revolution ownership group Opening Day Partners, recalled Menzer's straightforward belief that a market study was needed to figure out how the team could leverage assets to cater to all subsets of area residents.
Of the minor league sports teams Kirk has been involved with in his 30 years in professional baseball, the best are the ones that can forge close working relationships with the community, he said.
"Eric was a bit of an experiment" because he doesn't come to the position in the normal way, he said. The chief executive of a team usually comes from the ranks of career baseball professionals, Kirk said.
Menzer knows everyone and everyone knows him, so he was the logical person to talk to as the ownership searched for a new general manager, Kirk said. The discussion focused on what the team does well and what it doesn't, and eventually Kirk realized Menzer was the person he was looking for.
Menzer spent a lot of his first year or so getting his feet wet in the baseball world, but he's already left a few marks on the way the team is able to operate, Fortier said.
Staffers would report to work in the morning and not leave until after a game was over, causing burnout, Fortier said. So when Menzer started, Fortier asked if something could be done about the issue.
The result was a splitting of sales and operations staffs and shifts, with the sales people working during the day and operations staffers working in the afternoon and through the end of games.
It's not the norm in baseball, but it's working, Fortier said. He doesn't feel burned out after this past season, and metrics measuring the teams sales efforts are up as well, he said.
There also was a parking issue in an adjacent lot, where people would get towed during the day and were attributing that to the Revolution because the team leased the lot during game times for use by handicapped fans, Fortier said.
Menzer knew who to call to work out a deal and the Revolution now is the full-time leaser of the lot and handles all parking management, so it can better deal with situations that could be black eyes for the team, he said.
Kirk said he already has talked to a number of colleagues around the country about how well it is working in York. He said he told them it might be something other teams should do — if there is the right person in their communities.
Menzer, 47, moved to York in 1987 after graduating from the University of Maryland. He was the executive director of the old York Area Transit Authority, which through mergers is today the York Adams Transportation Authority.
In 1994, former York Mayor Charlie Robertson brought Menzer on as director of economic development.
It wasn't long after he started that Menzer had a meeting with Robertson that might have been the first time anyone heard the mayor talk about his idea for professional baseball in York.
At first, Menzer said, he had a failure of imagination. But he spent years trying to make a deal work for York to get a team affiliated with a Major League Baseball franchise, failing in part because York is in close proximity to the Harrisburg Senators.
But Menzer said he also learned along the way that getting team was about getting a multifaceted entertainment and community venue as much as getting sports to watch.
In 2001, Menzer joined Wagman Construction as a senior vice president for its urban renewal projects, which include the high-profile Codo mixed-use redevelopments on North George Street.
Also at Wagman, he served as project executive overseeing Sovereign Bank Stadium's construction ahead of the Revolution moving in for its inaugural season in 2007.
He built the place where he now works. But it's one of the less splashy ideas and executions that Wagman recalls of Menzer.
Several years ago, Wagman was working to redevelop the building that now houses Maewyn's Irish Pub & Restaurant at 110 N. George St. in the city and adequate parking cropped up as a problem, he said.
Menzer's idea was to create a short bridge connecting the building to the city's Philadelphia Street Garage. He both realized a fix that was relatively simple in concept and was able to work with the city to make it happen, Wagman said.
Position: President and general manager, York Revolution
Impact: The most successful minor league sports franchises are the ones that are integrated into their communities, according to a team owner, and Menzer's experience in York lets him do just that in a general manager spot that usually goes to a career baseball person. Already, he's making his mark since starting in 2010.