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NKU grad handles Reds finances

Andrew Despotes and Stephen Wilder, Staff writer and sports features editor

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A Northern Kentucky University sports business graduate is playing a key role in a new program for the Cincinnati Reds.
Matthew Wagner, 2006 NKU graduate, is the finance coordinator for the Reds Community Fund and is in charge of handling the finances for the authentics program.
Authentics is a new program that deals with game-used items, including jerseys, bats, bases and baseballs. Every dollar made by the department goes to the Reds Community Fund. Their first trial run for the authentics program was at Redsfest.

“Matt is there to communicate what is needed for the community fund,” said Reds Authentics Manager Jon Cline. “The sole purpose is to raise money for the Reds Community Fund and their endeavors to create the Reds new Urban Youth Academy.”

The Detroit Tigers was the first team to implement an authentics program. Authentics relates to memorabilia from each game and having it approved by a major league baseball representative, who witnessed everything happening to give customers reassurance that the memorabilia is certified. The idea to start the program with the Reds came from Lauren Werner, the senior director of business development for the Reds.

According to Wagner, he started with the Reds “out of luck,” as he found out about an opportunity and started as a part -time intern in 2007. Cline and Wagner work together on a daily basis. Cline carries out the operations and Wagner works with the numbers.

“It has come miles away from where it used to be, and Jon is engaged 100 percent in it,” Wagner said of the program.
The item name, date, opponent played and what inning that event happened are listed on each piece of memorabilia.

“A big emphasis of ours this year is to be as detailed as possible,” Cline said. “You’re going to know the stats a player put up that game.”
Curt Robinson, co-owner of J&J Sports Shop in Florence, Ky, said it is important to have items authenticated so people will have proof that they are real.
“A lot of people don’t care too much about it because they keep it in their own collection,” Robinson said. “But, if you ever want to sell it or donate it, people will want the piece of paper or hologram with it to show that it is the real thing. It increases the value and gives you a piece of mind.”

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NKU grad handles Reds finances