By Lindsey Linard
Youngstown State University’s athletic marketing team works with local businesses to become corporate sponsors of YSU athletics, providing important funding for sports programs.
According to Athletic Director Ron Strollo, YSU’s corporate sponsors bring the Athletic Department over $1 million every year, which is used to support many day-to-day aspects of YSU athletics.
“They’re really local business owners that want to support our student-athletes, want to support our university,” Strollo said. “We’re fortunate because we can provide so many different avenues for a return on investment for them.”
Ysusports.com describes the Corporate Partner Program as “providing sponsors an ‘effective and fun’ alternative to reach fans, consumers and clients at a very affordable investment.”
According to Robb Schmidt, assistant director of Athletic Marketing and Promotions, there are various levels of corporate sponsorship, usually starting at a minimum of $10,000. The businesses then work with the athletic marketing staff to develop signage, print, radio and TV advertising, as well as other events or promotions.
Advertising can be seen around campus in Stambaugh Stadium, Beeghly Center and game programs for YSU sporting events. YSU’s sponsors represent a variety of industries, from healthcare to restaurants.
Belleria Pizza & Italian Restaurant has been a supporter of YSU for over 20 years. It provides food for various YSU athletic teams and sponsors t-shirt and gift card giveaways, radio interviews and timeout activities during basketball games, as well as providing pepperoni rolls at game concessions.
Frank Frattaroli, owner of Belleria Pizza in Struthers, said that corporate sponsorship tremendously helped his business.
“It got so many people in the door,” Frattaroli said. “It was quite beneficial, customer wise, financially wise.”
Frattaroli said the continued partnership is more than just a business expense. He has created many relationships with YSU student-athletes and fans from the community.
“For me, that’s why I’ve been doing it for 20-some years, the friendships I have made and the contacts I have made,” Frattaroli said. “We’ve had so many people say ‘thank you for sponsoring sports at YSU.’”
Thom Duma Fine Jewelers has been a sponsor of YSU athletics since 2016. The business is a full-service jewelry store located in Warren and holds the title of “The official Jeweler of the YSU Penguins.”
Thom Duma, president and CEO of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers, said he believes his company’s partnership is mutually beneficial.
“I believe that it is a natural fit that a jewelry store is built around love and milestones,” Duma said. “Here we have a large student population that are going to fall in love and then need an engagement ring, or graduate which is a milestone, and then perhaps put a Rolex timepiece on their wrist as a celebration of that milestone.”
In addition to advertising, Thom Duma also sponsors the Thom Duma Fine Jewelers half-court shot at men’s and women’s basketball games, where a YSU student has the chance to win a $5,000 shopping spree.
“It’s an honor to be able to support the program, to be part of the community,” Duma said. “Sometimes you need your money to show support.”