SBD/May 26, 2011/Events and Attractions

Facility Execs Discuss Ways To Generate Non-Gameday Revenue

Thornton thinks NFL teams will aim to replicate Champions Square model

SMG Senior VP Doug Thornton yesterday offered up the Champions Square development near the Superdome and New Orleans Arena as a model way to “create a vibrant experience for the fan and also generate revenue” outside of gameday operations. During the “Next Wave of Non-Gameday Revenue Opportunities” panel at the AT&T Sports Facilities & Franchises conference in Hoboken, N.J., Thornton said the area was “truly a public-private partnership” with the state of Louisiana. He distinguished this “special events space” from mixed-use developments. Thornton: “We’re not sure we want to be an L.A. Live. … It’s like turning a key to a car on and off. You don’t have to incur the operating overhead day-to-day as if you were running a 365-day-a-year operation.” Thornton later said the area, with the help of both the Saints and Hornets and with presenting sponsorship from Verizon, will eventually host 60-65 events a year. Thornton predicted that the Champions Square model is something that “you’ll see replicated” by other NFL teams.

IDEAS FOR INNOVATION
: The other panelists -- AEG Dir of Booking & Marketing Brian Gale and Live Nation President/Arenas Mike Evans -- shared their own ideas for new ways for venues to make money outside of a primary tenant’s schedule. Gale, who books events for Prudential Center, said he looks at a venue and thinks, “Here’s what it was built for, but what else can it do?” He pointed to the recent auditions for Fox’ upcoming Simon Cowell show “X-Factor” as an example of this thinking. Gale also described how the building books many smaller events using all of its available space, such as magazine photo shoots and Avon parties in the warehouse areas. Revetria said with AT&T Park being a privately financed venue, the Giants have had “no choice” but to explore additional revenue streams. Events have included a free, sponsored opera concert and the annual Icer Air ski and snowboarding competition. He added the ballpark’s capacity will increase to “about 45,000 from 42,000” for a slate of college football games this fall. Evans said with the number of touring music acts on the decline, Live Nation has looked to develop “evergreen” music events that are “not all that talent-driven,” but are more lifestyle-themed. He also pointed to electronic music as a growth area; Live Nation drew 13,000 at a Dead Mouse concert in a parking lot outside Soldier Field. Meanwhile, Thornton floated the idea of having an international club soccer match at the Superdome.

Revetria says Giants have sales team soley
focused on growing convention business
TRIED AND TRUE: Thornton, Gale and Evans all related how conventions are important sources of revenue. Thornton says these events, which have included “huge” gatherings in the Superdome from Microsoft, Oracle and others, account for 40-45% of non-football revenue. Thornton: “We can make $1M in one day.” Revetria noted that his ballpark has a “growing convention business,” thanks in part to a sales team dedicate solely to special events. Another reliable moneymaker is the UFC. Evans: “The bloom has not left that.” Gale noted the Prudential Center has hosted three UFC fight cards in three-and-a-half years, and these events generated the “highest per caps ever.” Ticket sales have come to almost $10M on three cards. Thornton and Revetria both acknowledged that their venues had looked at possibly hosting MMA events.

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