Sport management alum finds success with Indiana Pacers

Contact: Chris Hybels

Tony Bellissimo

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Tony Bellissimo, B.S.17, a graduate of Western Michigan University's College of Education and Human Development's sport management program, is living out his dream in professional sports. In his role as the corporate ticket sales manager with Pacers Sports & Entertainment (PS&E), he is part of the engine behind the Indiana Pacers (NBA) and other events at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

"I help create memorable experiences for businesses across central Indiana and Indiana as a whole for their employees, clients and prospects for them to help increase their business bottom line as well as their employee engagement," says Bellissimo. "We're able to provide a lot of unique opportunities that people don't get to do on a daily basis. Helping take someone out of their day to day life for 2 to 3 hours and helping create new connections for people is my favorite part."

Tony Bellissimo at the NBA's 2024 All Star Weekend in Indianapolis.

One of the biggest accomplishments in his career was being a part of the team responsible for promoting the NBA's 2024 All Star Weekend in Indianapolis. Spanning over three days, Feb. 16 to 18, Bellissimo helped behind the scenes for the weekend's biggest events including the Starry 3-Point Contest, the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest and the 73rd NBA All Star Game.

"It was really cool to be a part of All Star Weekend. I actually had an opportunity late in the game where the NBA came to us and said, 'We have some premium inventory with suites and other premium spaces available to sell,' so I reached out to some of my clients to see if they were interested in attending any of those spaces," says Bellissimo. "I also got to enjoy a little bit of it personally and meet clients downtown during the events."

Prior to joining Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Bellissimo was a ticket sales account executive with the Indy Fuel Hockey Club. Affiliated with two higher-tier hockey teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Rockford IceHogs, the Indy Fuel develops players for careers in the National Hockey League and American Hockey League. In his role, Bellissimo also spearhead the Fuel's non-profit of the game initiative; an opportunity for organizations to spread awareness while providing fundraising opportunities on game days. 

"During my time at Western, the sport management program did an amazing job of helping connect students to the teams and minor league teams within the West Michigan area and trips to network with the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Redwings and Detroit Tigers," he says. "To make the most of your time at WMU, I suggest current and future sport management students participate in as many internships as possible if they're wanting to be in the sports industry. Not only do you gain skills from that, but your name is out there and you can speak to the experience that you had with that team or league."


The sport management major, offered through Western's Department of Human Performance and Health Education, provides the student with the academic preparation and practical training required for success in the sport industry. Specifically, it prepares students for careers in professional sports, college athletics, amateur sports, youth sports or corporate positions with a sport-related component. Job functions in the sport industry include facility management, sport promotion and marketing, sport media, customer or community relations, sport sponsorship, licensing, sport information, sport law and more. Learn more on the program overview page.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.