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DORNA, THE SPORTS WORLD'S ONE STOP SIGNAGE SHOP?
Published November 10, 1994
Yesterday, THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY talked with Jerry Cifarelli, senior VP at Dorna USA. Dorna specializes in sponsorship promoter services and is best known for AdTime, the revolving courtside signage system seen in the NBA, MLB and the AVP. Just this week, Dorna announced the sale of their signage system to three universities: DePaul, Wake Forest and the University of Hawaii. DAILY: Is your move into college venues a part of a bigger move for Dorna to tap into the college market? CIFARELLI: At this point, we have our signage system in 15 NBA arenas and next year, the expectation -- assuming baseball resumes as normal -- is to be involved with 15-20 baseball teams. We feel, from a signage position, we have a dominant position in the professional sports scene. Logically, the next step for us is to really pursue the college marketplace. We've had an involvement with UCLA and USC for the past couple of seasons on both a signage and a marketing relationship and we are now, this year, really pursuing more opportunities in college. THE DAILY: What do college sports offer to sponsors that pro sports do not? CIFARELLI: I don't know if college sports necessarily offers something different than pro sports. If you're going to compare NBA vs. college basketball, the NBA is obviously substantial in the television signage end of the business and in most cases college basketball does not offer the extensive television exposure that the NBA might. However, a lot of these schools, regionally and locally have tremendous appeal. In many of these towns and cities, there are no allegiances to pro clubs. So, the signage gives these sponsors and advertisers another opportunity to be involved. THE DAILY: Is there any fear of a backlash of over- commercializing college sports? CIFARELLI: We're relying on the universities and the schools to make those decisions. We're really offering our signage technology to these colleges and it's up to them to decide how many advertisers they want to display on these units. On our system, you can display up to 40 advertising messages and certain colleges are saying, 'I'm going to limit it at 10, or limit it at 6.' I think each school will determine what's in their best interests. It's not a Dorna decision. THE DAILY: How many college arenas do you think you will be involved with in the next couple of years? CIFARELLI: We hope to announce an agreement with a college representative. We want to work with somebody as a partner to assist us in really developing the college marketplace, from both a marketing and a signage standpoint. We hope at some point that we have a relationship with 75 universities, so that we can then offer to national advertisers an opportunity to be involved with 75 schools by dealing with Dorna and another company. THE DAILY: What is the potential of the college market? CIFARELLI: Revenue-wise, I'm not sure if it will ever be bigger than the professional teams. But there are opportunities and we're just looking to maximize them by trying to offer a professional-look for these colleges. The key for us is to try to get involved with a large number of universities. At the college level, we would probably need 30 or 40 clubs to have a substantial enough package for a national sponsor. THE DAILY: What technology is Dorna developing to tap into other sports, like hockey? CIFARELLI: We already have technology for hockey. We hope to [tap into the NHL market], and we currently have a system that we tested last year at the NHL All-Star game at Madison Square Garden, and it works very well. At some point in time we see ourselves on the field for every sport, or on the court, or on the ice. Whether it is football or hockey or baseball or basketball, we'd like to think that any sport that's played, they're going to rely on the signage system that we own.