The popularity of eSports cannot be understated. Global esports revenues are expected to exceed $1 billion this year, and there will be 29.6 million monthly esports viewers in the US this year. And now one entrepreneur is eyeing the Charleston area as the future home of an eSports stadium. This week, Joe welcomes Mark Schuster, the CEO of Ventura Sports Group, and discusses his proposed plan to build a 120,000 square feet multipurpose venue with a 1,600 seat auditorium in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
About Mark Schuster: Mark has been involved in the Sports and Entertainment business for over 32 years, having served senior leadership roles with some of the country’s most successful minor league professional sports franchises. He began his career in 1989 with the Durham Bulls as Director of Food & Beverage, shortly after the release of the movie Bull Durham. In less than two years, Schuster became one of the youngest General Managers in all of baseball when he took over the helm of the Cleveland Indians class-A affiliate Burlington Indians in Burlington, NC. After a record-breaking third year in Burlington, Schuster was recruited to become the VP/General Manager of the Minnesota Twins class-A affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida, where he would serve for three years. During those three years, he also served as the Minnesota Twins Spring Training Coordinator.
In September 1996 Schuster was recruited to become VP/General Manager of the Charleston RiverDogs, a class-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. In his role, Schuster was responsible for seeing through the construction of a $19MM state-of-the-art baseball stadium on the banks of the Ashley River in downtown Charleston, SC. In 1999, Mark won the Larry MacPhail Trophy awarded to Minor League Baseball’s top promoter and was also honored as the South Atlantic League Executive of the Year. Following the 2001 season, Mark was offered the position as president of Metropolitan Sports in Portland, OR. Metropolitan had sports holdings which included the Triple A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, the Portland Timbers professional soccer team and a class A professional baseball team in the Northwest League, the Tri-City Dust Devils. Mark was credited with taking the company from a $7MM loss in the year prior to him arriving to a $1.8MM profit in 18 months.
In 2004, Mark formed his own company, Ventura Sports Group for the purpose of owning and operating independent professional baseball teams. Mark’s first acquisition was the El Paso Diablos in 2005 which he owned until 2010. In September 2007, Mark began construction on a $20MM state-of-the-art stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas where he owned the Grand Prairie AirHogs, minor league team, until 2010. In 2011, Mark began construction on Uni-Trade Stadium in Laredo, Texas where he also owned the professional baseball franchise the Laredo Lemurs. After numerous accolades and success in Laredo, Mark sold the team in February 2015 to concentrate on numerous new opportunities throughout the US and abroad.