Barons & Prodigal Add Three To Front Office

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.
Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.

It’s no great mystery that the Oklahoma City Barons are a hockey team somewhat lost in their own city. They are overshadowed by the NBA and NCAA in a Fall/Winter sports season that gets very crowded, very quickly. The fight for viewers will make for the sell of hockey in OKC a tough one for a long time. And to address that very issue, Prodigal makes a couple of hiring moves to aid in this endeavor.

At the bottom of this post you’ll find the names, job titles, and impressive resumes of the individuals now working for Prodigal in various capacities. What is interesting is the places they land within the umbrella organization of the Barons, Prodigal LLC. Brenda Bennett comes in as Vice President of Marketing and Advertising. She’s likely the one that will be responsible for bringing Barons hockey to the forefront of sports in OKC. Jon Beilstein is the new Vice President of Sales. He’ll likely bring a seasoned mind (11 years with Grand Rapids Griffins) to promotions, season ticketing, and concessions. And then there’s Darren Ransley, Director of Creativity and Entertainment. He’s the glitz and glamour taskmaster that likely gives Prodigal an edgy frame to corporate sponsors and the overall bang for your buck packaging.

I’ve met several of these individuals as a result of an interview I recently did with Prodigal CEO, Bob Funk Jr. All are very cordial. All are very good at what they do by virtue of the track record they present.

The greater footnote to this story is not the hiring themselves, but the way that Prodigal seems to be plugging holes where they needed to in all their endeavors, not just Barons hockey. And I think that’s a good movement in the right direction. Perhaps it also expands the work and entertainment endeavors being done by Prodigal. High-end hires of this nature usually don’t stay complacent for long. What does Prodigal have up its sleeve? I, for one, am anxious to see where this leads this local business.

Official Oklahoma City Barons/Prodigal Release:

Oklahoma City – Prodigal LLC today named Brenda Bennett as its Executive Vice President of Marketing and Advertising, Jon Beilstein Executive Vice President of Sales and Darren Ransley Director of Creativity and Entertainment.

With Prodigal, Bennett oversees the marketing and advertising for all of the Prodigal events including the Barons hockey team, Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events and the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) in Oklahoma City. Duties include: media planning and buying, brand support for all events, implementation of promotions and in-arena corporate fulfillment and within the media.

Bennett joins the staff of Prodigal after a lengthy career in the media market in Oklahoma City and abroad. Most recently she served as Vice President of Image Action, LLC with offices in Oklahoma and Hamilton, Bermuda. She provided account management and media development for multiple clients within the company. Bennett coordinated the overall strategy and aided creative for clients from the early phases to completion. She was also responsible for developing new business. She also assisted in developing specialized media for national and international clients such as Walt Disney Co., Six Flags, Investors Guaranty, OG+E, Coolgreens Restaurants and the Oklahoma Boathouse Foundation.

In addition, she was an executive project leader for Virtual Spectator worldwide, specifically Virtual Spectator Venue. Virtual Spectator provides sports management and technology for some of the world’s top sporting events including the PGA, Wimbledon, the Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup and the Olympic Games. Bennett assisted in coordinating specialized teams to provide consultation and technology development to enhance the visualization of the event both at the venue and through television and internet broadcast.

Beilstein’s duties begin with the Barons hockey team, but extend into Prodigal’s other events. Jon is involved in all levels of Prodigal’s sales efforts including: ticketing, concessions, sales strategies, promotions, consulting and training. He guides a sales staff of 10-plus whose tasks are to manage the Barons Season Seat Holders, provide ticketing opportunities for individuals and groups for all Prodigal events and generate non-traditional revenue across all platforms.

He joins the staff after an 11-year stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins. During his time with the Griffins, the franchise won the AHL’s 2010-11 Ticket Sales Department of the Year award. In addition, the franchise was honored with awards for fan experience during the 09-10 season and overall ticket sales growth during the 08-09 campaign. Additionally, Jon is credited with developing many of the top ticket sales leaders and managers in the AHL.

Following a professional golf career and membership in the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA), Beilstein gained over 26 years of sales management and marketing experience, including as a national sales manager and consultant for companies based in Illinois, Missouri and Michigan. Most notably, he sat on the board of directors and served as vice president of financial resources and chief administrator for American Life Investors and Reliv International.

Ransley began his career in the entertainment industry as the National Activities Coordinator for LTTL-Disney in Taiwan and Hong Kong. As a professional, he has brought passion, energy and creativity to positions with NCED Marriott in Norman, the University of Oklahoma and most recently Science Museum Oklahoma.

With Prodigal, Ransley is tasked with creating unique elements that add to the overall entertainment of the events Prodigal operates including the Oklahoma City Barons, Professional Bull Riders (PBR), Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) and other endeavors. Ransley’s involvement extends to the fulfillment of partnerships with Prodigal’s family of corporate partners at the events Prodigal operates.

“We are pleased to have Brenda, Jon and Darren join our family,” said Prodigal CEO Bob Funk Jr. “All three bring great experience and leadership to our organization and compliment the staff we have in place. Brenda’s expertise in the field and strong relationships in the market will allow us to take the lead in making our brands strong. Jon’s track record of success in Grand Rapids and other professional endeavors translates well to increasing the strength of our sales staff. Darren brings a new level of creativity and energy to our organization that can enhance the experience for our audiences. The addition of these individuals exponentially magnifies Prodigal’s ability to increase our footprint in the events we operate in Oklahoma.”

Prodigal LLC is an Oklahoma City-based sports marketing organization. Currently, Prodigal LLC operates the Oklahoma City Barons hockey team, co-promotes Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and operates the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) in Oklahoma City.