Houston Astros President and CEO George Postolos Tells Bauer Alumni
Why Owning Houston’s Hometown Team is Good Business
Although they may not look the same at first glance, a professional baseball team and a business school have quite a few things in common, Houston Astros president and CEO George Postolos told alumni from the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business during a luncheon on April 19.
The luncheon was held at Minute Maid Park and sponsored by JEBCo and BB&T. It was a departure in both time and location from the Bauer College Alumni Association’s typical monthly networking breakfast and drew more than 120 attendees to hear keynote speaker Postolos talk about his plans for the team.
“Just like the university and the Bauer College, for the Astros, you have to have ties to the local community,” said Postolos, who took on his role in November 2011 after Jim Crane’s investment group purchased the team.
The Astros’ ties to the city — and to the city’s business school — run deep. One of the principal owners in Crane’s group is Doug Bauer, son of Charles T. “Ted” Bauer, the philanthropist who donated $40 million in 2000 to name the University of Houston College of Business Administration.
Ted Bauer was also instrumental in connecting Postolos to the Houston community when he moved to the city in 1998. “One of the first people who welcomed me here was Ted Bauer,” Postolos said. “Fast forward to 2012, and I’m here with Doug Bauer talking to alumni from the Bauer College. It’s a special day for me.”
It’s a critical time in franchise history for the Astros, he said. The organization celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, as it prepares for a number of changes in 2013, including a move to the American League and a redefined identity that will bring new uniforms.
The future of the Astros is yet to be determined, but the new ownership and business operations team have a clear vision of what’s next, Postolos said.
“We want to have the best young talent in baseball, consistently compete in championships and win titles,” he said.
In order to achieve the goal, Postolos added, the ownership team has taken a businesslike approach and surveyed competitors in the market, including the St. Louis Cardinals, a team the Astros battled in 2004 and 2005 for the National League Championship.
“We were competing against them in the championships in the middle part of last decade, and now, we’re struggling, but they’re winning,” he said. “We’ve looked at their team and said, ‘what’s the difference?’”
The biggest factor into successful teams that have consistently competed and won championships is a strong base of young talent, Postolos said.
“It’s like getting a business degree,” he added. “It takes four to six years to get the full benefit of a draft.”
On June 4, the Astros will have the first pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, a move that Postolos said will help to shape the next several years of the team. “We’re going to drive our success through the draft.”
In addition to building a young team that will grow and develop over time, the franchise’s focus is on fans, Postolos said. Crane announced in January several fan-friendly initiatives, including lower ticket prices and a revised policy allowing fans to bring food and water into Minute Maid Park.
“We’ve been listening to what customers say and responding to that,” Postolos said. “Our goal is to get people back to the ballpark.”
By Jessica Navarro