Countless Rochesterians and upstate natives will be rooting for the undefeated Buffalo Bills this Sunday as the team makes its first visit to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders playing their first year in a new city and a new stadium. Yet it is safe to assume that one former Rochesterian will be rooting differently than the rest.
Marc Badain, who grew up in Brighton, has served as president of the Raiders organization since 2015. Badain, 50, was born in Queens and moved to the Rochester area at the age 5. Despite growing up in Buffalo Bills country, Badain was always an avid Raiders fan.
After graduating from Brighton High School, he went on to Emory University. In 1991, Badain became an intern with the then Los Angeles Raiders. He has worked for the team ever since, ascending his way through the organization and, more recently, being credited as an instrumental player in the building of the Raiders’ stadium in Las Vegas.
Badain still has family in the Rochester area. His sister, Lara Badain, is a local attorney and mediator specializing in family law. His brother-in-law, Jay Speranza, is an owner of Tony D’s restaurant.
Badain spoke with the Rochester Beacon on Monday. Here is our conversation.
ROCHESTER BEACON: What are your fondest memories of growing up in Rochester, and what were your professional ambitions back then?
MARC BADAIN: Growing up in Rochester provided me with a great public education at Brighton High School and friendships that have lasted decades to this day. I have fond memories of a summer job at Seabreeze Amusement Park, listening to WCMF and the Brother Wease show, and being part of a community that embraced diversity and inclusion. It is a wonderful place to call home. Growing up, I always anticipated being part of the financial industry, and was able to parlay that love of numbers and finance into a position as the team’s chief financial officer before assuming my current role.
ROCHESTER BEACON: What are the biggest challenges and responsibilities of an NFL team president?
BADAIN: Our role as team executives is to provide a great experience for our customers and fans on and off the field. We are the stewards of a tremendous and powerful brand, and one that has a big impact on the lives of our fans and followers. They expect and deserve to see a great product, and the experience of engaging with the team must be a representation of our joint values. It is also imperative to be a good community partner, and to give back and improve the lives of those in our community.
ROCHESTER BEACON: From moving the team to a new city and into a new stadium, to the challenges related to COVID-19 and social justice protests, this has been an unprecedented year for the Raiders and for the NFL. What will stand out most to you personally about this season?
BADAIN: This season is the culmination of a decades long search to find a proper home for the Raiders. We found that home in Las Vegas. I’m incredibly grateful to the thousands of men and women who worked tirelessly on this project over the past five years to get Allegiant Stadium built on time and on budget. Watching the team kickoff last week and winning the first game ever in the stadium was a proud moment for the entire organization.
ROCHESTER BEACON: Working for a professional sports team is the ultimate dream job for many young Rochesterians. What is your advice to them about how to pursue that goal?
BADAIN: Start early building your network and your resume in the sports industry. Get an internship if you can and get an entry-level job anywhere in the business. If no pro sports teams exist where you are, look to the minor league team in town, or the collegiate level. You’ll gain experience, as well as expand your network with others in the industry. There are multiple ways to do that now—operations, sales, digital media, analytics, coaching, etc. Understand how your role can help the team achieve its goals and then do whatever is asked of you.
Alex Zapesochny is Rochester Beacon publisher.