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From an Usher to the Super Bowl

By Andrew Smith

Adelphi’s Sport Management Program has been on the rise. With an entirely new curriculum and even a campus-sanctioned student-run club, these changes have allowed the program to continue to evolve and to meet the demands of this competitive field. The incredibly talented and experienced professors continue to inspire their students each day. Since 2020, Professor Frank Supovitz has graciously shared his decades of experience with his students.

Supovtz’s journey to the sporting industry was not conventional. As a Queens native, Supovitz attended Queens College and graduated in 1979 with a BA in biology and worked as an usher at Radio City Music Hall while studying. After finishing his undergraduate schooling, Supovitz was offered a management position at Radio City Music Hall and decided to take that job to help him save money for graduate school. However, Supovitz began to love his work in the theater industry, so he decided to stay and see where it would take him.

Frank Supovitz at the 2021 Indy 500 with his company Fast Traffic Events. Photo provided by Frank Supovitz

Radio City began to evolve and produce large events for powerful corporate partners such as the Super Bowl XXII Halftime Show. “By then, I was hooked and wanted to do more in the sports event production space,” Supovitz said.

Supovitz would go on to lead the National Hockey League’s Events and Entertainment Department for over a decade. In this role, he would be crucial in managing and producing the popular events such as the All-Star Weekend. In addition, Supovitz worked with the Edmonton Oilers to develop the NHL Heritage Classic, which eventually evolved into the yearly tradition of the Winter Classic.

Supovitz then served as senior vice president of events for the National Football League. When discussing his most memorable sporting experience, Supovtiz told the story of the first game at the Louisiana Superdome in 2006 after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Frank Supovtiz at the command center at Super Bowl XLI. Photo provided by Frank Supovitz

“I traveled down to New Orleans just a few weeks after the storm as part of an NFL task force to, among other things, begin the long-term planning for reopening the stadium and the city,” he said. “The city was on its back and the stadium was in such horrible shape that we knew it wouldn’t be able to host NFL games for a long while, if ever again.

“The Saints went on to win the game, and still to this day, my friends in New Orleans say that was the night that the community finally felt the city would bounce back from the devastation of the hurricane,” Supovitz added.

He was also directly involved in another memorable NFL moment. Super Bowl XLVII would go down in infamy as the power went out for a 34-minute delay leaving the football audience in shock. Supovitz was the lead executive during this game. “On game day, I was stationed at `NFL Control,’ the game day command center. That’s where all the event’s decision-makers managed every game day detail, from stadium operations, security, and law enforcement to broadcast, media relations, football operations and more,” he said.

To prepare for a crisis like this, the event staff led by Supovitz had to perform several trial runs where they would encounter several emergency scenarios. The team solved these scenarios as quickly and efficiently as possible to ensure safety and keep the show rolling.

Supovitz remembered that night and shared his thoughts and concerns. “We knew the first thing to figure out was whether we had a safe or unsafe environment. If it was unsafe, say a fire, a terror incident, or other threat to life safety, we had to evacuate. But, if it’s safe, you want people to stay inside while you respond to the problem. We had to act fast to make that decision because you don’t want social media to make the decision for you and create a panic. Within about 90 seconds, we knew it was a power failure in the building and that we could activate a backup feeder to restore power. So, we told fans to stay put and we’d get started again.”

Then, in 2017, Supovitz wanted to take his decades of experience into his own hands. He left the NFL and launched Fast Traffic Events. “I just felt it was time not only to try applying my experience and expertise to new things and to learn some new things along the way,” he said. “Happily, I could be selective about the projects I undertook with Fast Traffic.”

Fast Traffic Events would go on to work with a diverse portfolio of sporting and entertainment clients such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Major League Baseball, The Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Seaport District in New York City and Grand Canyon University.

When describing his work with this diverse clientele, Supovitz emphasized that every project has different objectives and a target audience. “Pick the event; it’s all about presenting the stories that make these events, sports and people exceptional,” he said.

In 2019, Supovitz would put all his incredible life experiences to paper when he wrote, “What to Do When Things Go Wrong.”

“With all those details that go into planning a large-scale event, something somewhere is going to go wrong,” he said. “Every time. Hopefully, it goes unnoticed by most people and gets solved or managed. That happens a lot. Unfortunately, when something goes really wrong at the Super Bowl, it doesn’t go unnoticed and people want to know what happened behind the scenes.”

Today, Supovitz looks forward to teaching and sharing his experiences with Adelphi’s students. He encourages them to be involved and get experience however they can. “Remember, I started as an usher. Anything that builds your resume will help!”

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