Valley Marketing Agency Lands USFL Contract

CANFIELD, Ohio — A Mahoning Valley marketing agency is playing a key role in assuring the success of the United States Football League’s new hub in Canton.

Canfield-based 898 Marketing has been hired by the league to handle everything from advertising strategy to game-activities for the two teams that will play their home games at Tom Benson Stadium at the Football Hall of Fame Village: The Pittsburgh Maulers and the New Jersey Generals.

Jeffrey Ryznar, founder and president of 898 Marketing, says the contract is among the largest his company has ever landed. “It’s definitely the highest-profile one from a national perspective and also one of our biggest accounts,” he said.

His company is up to the task, he said, noting “our team members have over 40 years of combined experience in working with professional sports.”

Ryznar himself worked with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2007 to 2011 as director of strategic marketing.

“We are handling media buying, development of a marketing strategy from an advertising perspective for ticket sales, PR and communications, appearances and press conferences,” he said. Community outreach and everything that happens at the games that isn’t related to the game itself is also in his purview. “That includes all game-day operations, including what is on the scoreboard and on the field when the game is halted – T-shirt tosses, bobblehead giveaways and all of the fan experience.”

Birmingham Stallions players run onto the field prior to the USFL Championship game against the Philadelphia Stars on July 3, 2022, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins | Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The USFL played all of its games in Birmingham, Alabama, last year but created four hub cities for this season: Canton, Detroit, Birmingham and Memphis, Tenn. The playoffs took place at Tom Benson Stadium last year and will again this year.

Ryznar first got connected with the league last year when 898 Marketing was hired to provide services for the playoffs in Canton.

“We exceeded their expectations for attendance and coverage at the game,” he said. “There were over 18,000 in attendance for the championship game. The success of our efforts led last year led to this opportunity this season.”

The Youngstown area was “a huge part” of that success. “A lot of people from [the Mahoning Valley] went to the games,” Ryznar said. “We love football in the Valley… and there will be a dedicated marketing effort aimed at it.”

Ryznar’s firm has 34 clients on its roster. They are mainly in the Mahoning Valley, Akron-Canton and Cleveland but some are national accounts. The company has 27 employees.

The Canton hub is the only one that does not have a home team, although Pittsburgh is within driving distance.

“It’s a very unorthodox approach but very logical and strategic,” Ryznar said. “[The League’s] commitment to Canton has been made very clear. Every player’s goal is to end his career at that stadium [as an inductee in the Hall of Fame].”

The USFL, he noted, is partnering with the Football Hall of Fame Village development, which will include restaurants, bars, amusement park rides, a hotel, sports betting parlor, waterpark and other attractions when it is complete. Part of the Village is already open.

Season tickets for the Canton-based USFL teams start at $30. “It’s one of the best deals in professional sports and every seat in the stadium is amazing,” Ryznar said.

The first home game is April 23. For information, go to

Pictured at top: Jeff Ryznar, founder and president of 898 Marketing in Canfield.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.