SBD/January 30, 2012/Events and AttractionsPrint All
A combination of “far fewer hotel rooms than a typical host city, two teams from large markets getting to the league’s championship game, and the NFL itself gobbling up most of the prime spaces has led to what executives are calling historically high prices" for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, according to Lefton & Kaplan of SPORTBUSINESS JOURNAL. Remarkably “well-connected industry types are staying miles out of town,” and large corporations are hosting client hospitality “in distant cities, including Chicago, which is about 180 miles from Indianapolis.” Whereas many years the “most frequently heard question on the streets of a Super Bowl city is ‘Whadya pay for your ticket?’ this year, the same question is being asked about hotel rooms.” Unlike many Super Bowls that have the weekend’s events “spread out, Indianapolis’ allure was a compact geography that, in theory, would allow fans to walk to everything.” As things have played out, such accommodations “will be mostly for the very well-connected,” with everyone else “staying away from downtown.” Even the NFL’s “own Super Bowl party, Friday night’s commissioner’s party, is not downtown but about five miles away, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.” Indianapolis by population count is the “smallest Super Bowl host city since Jacksonville, which saw its first and likely last Super Bowl in 2005” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/30 issue). In Indianapolis, Jeff Swiatek noted TravelClick, which "tracks 14,000 rooms in the Indianapolis area, reported that 90 percent, or 13,000, were booked" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/28). Meanwhile, SI's Peter King writes it was a "nice touch by having Indiana schoolchildren put little drawings in everyone's hotel room downtown." King: "Reminds me of what Olympic host cities do" (SI.com, 1/30).
DIFFERENT KIND OF HOST: In N.Y., John Branch wrote Indianapolis “promises to be a different kind of Super Bowl host.” The city “does not have a big act to follow,” as last year’s game in Arlington was “stained by logistical nightmares, including a paralyzing ice storm, injuries caused by falling ice at the stadium and ticket-holders left without seats on game day because temporary bleachers were not completed in time.” Indianapolis “vowed to play to its strengths -- its history of event planning, its community spirit, its compact downtown.” Lucas Oil Stadium is downtown, and the “primary festivities are compressed into an area roughly eight blocks square.” Even the teams, usually “sequestered far from the frivolity, are staying downtown,” and most of the parties are there as well. Its three-block “pedestrian-friendly Super Bowl Village evokes the medal plazas of Salt Lake City in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010, with live music, games and demonstrations” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29). In Indianapolis, Robert King wrote under the header, “Indy Looks Super-Prepared For Super Bowl 2012.” With what is "quite possibly the most important week in the city's history just beginning,” it is “hard from this vantage point to remember that a short time ago we had a much smaller Indiana Convention Center that couldn't have handled what's before us now.” The “huge question to be answered is whether our chief asset -- a compact Downtown -- will be so overwhelmed and so strangled that we're left with gridlock” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/29). But in Indianapolis, Matthew Tully wrote, “For one week, let's accept the craziness and embrace the spectacle. Let's soak in the wild scene and the jolt of energy and glitz that will envelop Indianapolis as our midmarket town becomes the epicenter of sports and pop culture, and as we briefly become a city that never sleeps.” The next seven days “truly will be all Super Bowl, all the time.” Final Fours, Big Ten tournaments and the Indy 500 “turn the city into sports central,” but the city has “never seen anything like this” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/29).
TICKETS IN DEMAND: Ticket Experience co-Owner Patrick Ryan said the high cost of tickets for Super Bowl XLVI on the secondary market is partly because “this is probably the last time for the foreseeable future" that the Midwest “will host a Super Bowl." The “other big factor is just the general public is more and more comfortable with the secondary market.” Ryan said the current $4,000 ticket average on the secondary market is “a little bit inflated” but it’s not “going to collapse completely to where it’s below face value." Ryan: "There’s some room for it to soften but it’s going to hold” ("CNBC Sports Biz: Game On!," NBC Sports Network, 1/27).
WILL WE MEET AGAIN? In Ft. Worth, Charean Williams noted despite Super Bowl XLV last year being “marred by ice, snow and a seating fiasco,” North Texas' first time as host “is not expected to be the last.” North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee Chair and Pro Football HOFer Roger Staubach said, "We'll definitely get another one here. I don't know when. The NFL is more involved now in telling the cities when they can get in. I'm not sure. The process has changed a little bit, but we'll get another one here.” However, Williams noted Atlanta has not gotten another Super Bowl “since an ice storm paralyzed the city the week of Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/29). Chargers Chair & President Dean Spanos said, “I’m always supportive of hosting the Super Bowl where a new stadium has been built. It shows a commitment to the team itself and to the city. It’s a great opportunity for the community of Indianapolis. I’m for helping the communities where they have new stadiums” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/28).
GOING IT ALONE: In Miami, Douglas Hanks noted Dolphins CEO Mike Dee discussed the possibility of Miami-Dade County "going it alone in pursuit of the 2016 Super Bowl," citing Broward County commissioners’ '11 vote "against raising taxes to fund a $225 million renovation of Sun Life Stadium.” Dee Friday said, “Broward County spoke loudly last year. We heard them. ... We will certainly take that into account as we conduct our business, and look to Miami-Dade County for our partnership." banks noted it is unclear if Dee’s remarks “represented more than a political volley in the always prickly topic of public funding for private stadiums.” But they “hint at a major reworking of how the region pursues Super Bowls, which increasingly have been a team effort between Broward and Miami-Dade” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/28). Dee said, “That doesn’t mean Broward and Palm Beach counties don’t benefit from people who are coming here for the game. But in terms of NFL-sanctioned events and functions and where teams stay and where the epicenter of the event is, should that be Miami-Dade or should it be as it was in 2010. We’ve got to figure that out” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 1/27).
Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane "stole the show" during Saturday's NHL All-Star SuperSkills Competition when the he "donned a cape and glasses -- a la Clark Kent -- and captured the breakaway challenge," according to Chris Kue of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. In costume, Kane scored a goal "while sliding on his stomach and slipped the puck from his hand to his stick." He later "fired a slap shot that exploded a puck he had cut into four pieces and glued back together." Kane said that he was "inspired" by Magic C Dwight Howard's '08 NBA slam-dunk contest. Kane: "I copied him a little bit, but doing stuff like that gets the fans going. I thought it was a cool event. I'd like to do it if I ever come back again" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/29). In Ottawa, Don Brennan wrote Kane's "Superman routine wasn't as unique as some thought," but it was "magnificent, nonetheless" (OTTAWA SUN, 1/29). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Brian Costello wrote NHL players "really do embrace the skills competition now." Costello: "They're getting it. Entertain the fans with the crafty moves they practise in practice. This is really what all-star weekend is about." Ducks RW Corey Perry "stole the show in the breakaway challenge, getting the loudest cheers from the Ottawa fans," as he "tossed aside his gloves and stick, then pulled out a mini-stick from inside his hockey pants." Perry then skated in "hunched over and deked an accommodating" Blues G Brian Elliott. It was a "nice nod to the All-Star Game's youth hockey theme." Costello noted Canadiens G Carey Price "was having a ton of" fun in the Team Alfredsson net. Facing Islanders C John Tavares, Price "put his glove hand over his eyes, letting fate fly to the wind." Tavares "lost the puck while trying to juggle it and shot wide." Facing another breakaway, Price was "flopping around in the crease like a grounded flounder." He also "jumped up and down waving his arms facing [Flyers C] Sean Couturier, stood backwards in his crease (and still made a save) and did his best Tim Tebow pose" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 1/28). The GLOBE & MAIL's Roy MacGregor noted in such a "remarkable series of fancy failures, the six all-stars chosen to do the 'hot dog' shootouts ... failed so miserably to stickhandle in, deke or score that at one point the crowd started booing." Eventually, however, the "slickest players on each side got some semblance of their acts together." Tavares "scored twice on Price, once lifting a puck, tossing it and 'bunting' it into the net behind Price" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/29).
STILL MEANINGFUL: NHL All-Star Game hosts and participants said that those who "turn a telescope on the NHL all-star game in order to show it’s irrelevant to the players and a bore for the fans are looking through the wrong end." The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts noted the game "still means a great deal to the league, host team and city, fans and even the players from economic, marketing and entertainment standpoints." Sharks coach Todd McLellan believes that the NHL "is succeeding." He said that the fans "love the pregame draft ... and the skills competition, which is held the night before the game." Shoalts noted there was a "large, enthusiastic crowd for last Thursday’s player draft and both the skills competition and the all-star game" had long been sold out (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/28). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro wrote there are "a lot of cool things about the NHL, but the way they pick their All-Star teams has to qualify as one of [the] coolest of the cool" (N.Y. POST, 1/29). ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote the All-Star draft is a "terrific addition to the festivities, although there's got to be a way to get the players more enthused." Burnside: "How about fitting more of the players, especially the ones who might likely go later in the proceedings, with microphones" (ESPN.com, 1/29).
The NHL and the Blue Jackets on Saturday announced the city of Columbus and the team will host the ’13 NHL All-Star Weekend Jan. 26-27 next year (NHL). Blue Jackets President Mike Priest said, “This is a great opportunity to celebrate hockey in Columbus and to showcase Columbus to the hockey community once again.” In Columbus, Aaron Portzline noted the Blue Jackets have “made bids to play host to the All-Star Game as far back as 2001, their second season in the league.” The team two years ago with “the help of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, put in bids for the 2013, ’14 or ’15 games, but the league made the bids contingent on the Blue Jackets getting its long-sought financial fix in the form of a new lease agreement with Nationwide Arena.” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman “reiterated the two issues were linked, but said there was no quid pro quo.” The Blue Jackets have told the NHL that they “will make a series of upgrades to Nationwide Arena -- including, possibly, a new or upgraded scoreboard -- but Priest was not willing to discuss” those on Saturday. The team hosted the ’07 NHL Draft and the arena's lower bowl and “most of the upper bowl were packed for the first round of the draft, which is unusual when the event is in a so-called nontraditional hockey market.” Portzline noted the NHL two weeks ago “notified the Blue Jackets that they could land the 2013 game if they still could fulfill the bid proposals they submitted two years earlier” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/29).
STILL HONEYMOONING: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock noted the city hosted last year’s All-Star Game and the “alacrity with which Raleigh hosted one of the sport's biggest events and the way fans here embraced it changed its reputation as a hockey market forever.” Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau VP/Sports Marketing co-Chair Scott Dupree said, "For some outsiders, maybe it was a bit of a surprise or unexpected that a quote-unquote 'nontraditional hockey market' like Raleigh could step up and host an event of that size and scope as successfully as we did." Over the decade it took for Bettman “to fulfill his original promise to bring the game here, it was easy to believe it would never happen.” Now, a year later, it is “almost hard to believe it went so well” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 1/28). Jets co-Owner Mark Chipman said that it is “far too early in the game” for the team to consider hosting an All-Star Weekend. Just landing a franchise back after the original Jets left for Phoenix in ‘96 was “such a momentous occasion for the ownership group that ‘it still hasn’t completely sunk in.’” Still, the GLOBE & MAIL’s Roy MacGregor wrote at “some point, the Jets will be chasing to put on the All-Star Game, if not the Heritage Classic or a future draft.” Chipman: “I have no doubt our community would support any one of these events” (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/29).
PITCHING PROPOSALS: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote a “better idea” for the All-Star Game would be to “award it to the city that wins the Stanley Cup.” On All-Star Weekend the following season, bring in the game’s “best for a skills competition and fanfest.” As for the game, stage it “outdoors, pitting the previous season’s Stanley Cup finalists against each other in a regular-season game.” A Bruins-Canucks matchup on Jan. 7 “would have played well in front of 35,000 at Fenway Park and a national TV audience” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/29).
The PGA Merchandise Show wrapped up over the weekend with more than 1,000 companies and brands advertising their products and services in Orlando. PGA of America President Allen Wronowski said attendance at the annual “demo day,” where golf equipment companies show off their latest lines, was up 10% and overall attendance increased in the low single digits. “It feels like there’s a recovery in the industry,” Wronowski said. Below are some highlights from the event.
DRIVING FORWARD: TaylorMade-adidas President & CEO Mark King said the company gained eight market-share points last year on the strength of the new white driver. The company’s big marketing event last year -- “White-Out” -- was staged in midtown Manhattan, where Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer hit drivers into a net in front of the Golfsmith store on a closed 54th Street. King hinted that this year’s big marketing event to promote the new RocketBallz driver will be even grander. On March 19, TaylorMade will take over Cowboys Stadium with what King described as “a massive event.” Hank Haney and several of TaylorMade’s touring pros will take part. One detail King wouldn’t reveal is who the retail partner will be.
Flavor Flav makes appearance at PGA
Merchandise Show for Back9Network
PUTTING IN THE TIME: The biggest offseason priority for Adams Golf was to sign Yani Tseng, the world’s most dominant female golfer. Adams CEO Chip Brewer clarified it was more than an offseason priority. “I started negotiations with Yani last February, so it was just a small, little 11-month process,” Brewer said. The chief of Adams Golf for the past 10 years acknowledged that Tseng has a hard time “differentiating herself to the American fans, but she’s working very hard on that. First of all, she’s so dominant, that is starting to separate her. She also is working very hard on her English and she is very engaging.” As for Asia, Tseng, a native of Taiwan, “is a frickin’ rock star,” Brewer said.
BLANK SLATE: Falcons Owner Arthur Blank, who serves as Chair and Majority Owner of the PGA Tour Superstore, spent a day at the PGA Merchandise Show meeting with club manufacturers and apparel makers. Blank’s company has the Superstore license from the tour -- or more technically, the license for stores off-course and off-airport. The Superstore concept is working well enough that Blank’s team plans to open two locations in Chicago and they’re scouting for another site in the Southeast. The two Chicago stores, the first ones in the Midwest, will increase the number of Superstores to 14 nationally. He shared some of his thoughts on golf in a brief Q&A.
Q: What’s your sense of the vibe around golf right now?
Blank: It’s good. It’s not incredible, it’s not great. I’ve had conversations with other leaders in the golf industry and I frankly think golf has to figure out how to attract the younger golfer and the female golfer, and make the game less expensive. We’ve got to find a way to play it more quickly -- time is a factor for everybody. The industry needs to do a lot of that. The course designs are pretty penal today. Golf has to become a more fun experience for everybody.
Q: What kind of a job are companies in golf doing to attract new golfers?
Blank: You’re starting to see some new ideas from the manufacturers and in apparel. They’re trying to appeal to younger golfers. Some of that, from an apparel standpoint, is based on the European look versus the traditional American look. European golfers have more of a flair for fashion and color. That’s good for the industry.
Q: You’re expanding your PGA Tour Superstores, so business must be good, right?
Blank: We had a wonderful year in 2011, both top line and bottom line. We have very large stores (some as large as 45,000 square feet), a great assortment of inventory and under the banner of the PGA Tour, we’ve developed a brand that is very strong. We’re in expansion mode and we’re looking for new locations.
Q: As a co-founder of The Home Depot, do you see similarities between it and the Superstore concept?
Blank: There are many parallels. At Home Depot, we talk about the three-legged stool -- assortment, price and service. All of those things are very important to the golfer. We have to make sure we’re offering value at every price point and make sure we’re offering the assortment the customers are looking for.
Q: Why is the PGA Tour Superstore model working so well when so many other segments of retail are struggling?
Blank: It’s very much of a social experience where golfers come together, they work on their game, they talk about the latest equipment and try it out. You can spend five hours in the store and it’s really unique at the retail level in golf. It becomes a home away from home for the golfer.