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THE STATE OF NBA PROPERTIES FROM RICK WELTS
Published February 13, 1995
Rick Welts is the President of NBA Properties, the league's marketing and merchandising arm. He spoke with THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY last week on what All-Star Weekend means to the league. TOMORROW: The NBA's plans to expand into new markets and its strategies for taking advantage of emerging technologies. THE DAILY: What is new about 1995's All-Star game. WELTS: Every year I get back and say, "That's it. We'll be lucky to survive it at this level for another year." And every year we seem to take it up a notch. We have had a very difficult time in that, unlike some of the other sports, we have 18,000 seats that we could sell about 30 times if we had the opportunity to get everybody in the building who wanted to be there. In some ways our most difficult task is trying to say, "No." The international component for us is really important, and didn't exist as much as five or six years ago. ... And for us, this is a key sponsorship event. But everyone we do business with, even if they aren't a sponsor of a particular event going on there, is using the All-Star Weekend to entertain their key customers and clients and to meet with us. THE DAILY: Is the value of the All-Star Game to present individual stars or to be the showcase for the league, as a whole? WELTS: I wouldn't see the difference between those two. Maybe somebody else in another sport might. But for us this has been the showcase for the greatest players. And so many things flow from that. The only controversy we have is not the players who don't want to come, it's which players were not selected to be there. And that's great. THE DAILY: Is the Jam Session a way the league can promote itself in emerging markets? WELTS: We are looking at that as a way to extend our NBA presence in other markets, but not the only way. Judd Perkins' new position as President of NBA Events & Attractions puts a person behind our vision of non-basketball entertainment opportunities we want to pursue. .... We need to be out there in other ways. Perhaps Jam Session is the best answer, but I'm not sure there aren't others. We could be Disney on Ice, we could be restaurants, a retail presence -- a lot of things that don't involve playing basketball games.