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SBD/March 7, 2011/Events and Attractions
MIT Sloan Analytics Conference Draws Sellout Crowd Of 1,500 In Boston
Published March 7, 2011
ENLARGED FOCUS: Instead of focusing heavily on player performance analytics, this year's event included a rather prominent business focus, with panels exploring ticketing, fans' gameday experience, broadcast technologies and team ownership. "It seems like so many new owners buy a team and then immediately forget everything they know about business," said Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke, who appeared on several panels during the weekend and won rave reviews for his blunt, outspoken demeanor. The ongoing NBA and NFL labor situations, predictably, were discussed on numerous occasions, with the current financial woes in basketball sparking particular concern. "The NFL (labor issue) is completely different than the NBA debate because of the strength of their business," said ESPN NBA analyst and former Trail Blazers VP/Basketball Operations Tom Penn. "The NFL is a very profitable business, and in the NBA, most teams are losing money." Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist: "The revenue sharing in the NBA is comparatively weak and needs to be improved. The current sharing does not cover the losses being incurred by some teams." In-venue fan experience was also frequently mentioned, and Cowboys Exec VP & COO Stephen Jones captured the attention of many when he said just 3% of all NFL fans have ever attended a league game in person. But while the NFL, in part because of that skewing, has been pushing hard over the last year to replicate more of the at-home experience in-venue, Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban offered an alternate view: "If fans are looking down during the game (at personal screens), I have failed" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
HE'S KRAFTY: In Boston, Ian Rapoport reported Patriots President Jonathan Kraft attended the conference Saturday for the panel on the "future of the game day experience." He said that the Patriots have "pumped $500,000 into wi-fi" at Gillette Stadium, but added that "really good stadium wi-fi is five or 10 years off." He hopes in the future "it will be reality to mic-up players during games for fans to listen, albeit with 15-second delays," and he "envisions an in-stadium app where fans could pull up a specific audio feed of a mic'd-up player." However, Kraft was "skeptical of in-stadium handhelds like fan vision." Kraft: "Eventually, it'll be the phone or the tablet" (BOSTONHERALD.com, 3/6).