SBD/July 17, 2012/Franchises

World TeamTennis Washington Kastles Becoming Hot Ticket In DC

Kastles drawing many DC celebs, including First Lady Michelle Obama
World TeamTennis Washington Kastles matches have “become one of the go-to social scenes" in DC this summer, according to Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST. Kastles Owner Mark Ein bought the team five years ago as an expansion franchise, "paying an expansion fee and investing a few million on start-up costs.” He named it for “his Rosslyn-based electronic security badge company, Kastle Systems.” Ein said that he is “not in it for the money.” He said, “As I dug into (researching the economics), I thought generating lots of profits on an annual basis would probably be tough. But if you could build audience and a brand, you might build franchise value.” Ein’s strategy is to “create buzz through winning and drawing bold-faced spectators” like First Lady Michelle Obama. Heath wrote, "To that end, he pays big bucks -- I estimate well into six figures -- for single-game appearances by tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.” The 1,000 “devoted season ticket holders” fill about “40 percent of the 2,600-seat stadium.” Season-ticket prices range from “$150 for all seven games to $6,000 for a courtside dinner table, which includes four tickets and catered dinner.” Individual game tickets “range from $15 to $85.” The team takes in roughly $2M a year in "ticket sales and other revenue, which produces a manageable cash deficit in the low six figures.” Many of the sponsors -- including “Cadillac, SunTrust, Geico, Bloomberg, Capital Party Rentals, Residence Inn Marriott, Pepco, Qorvis and Comcast SportsNet -- also provide in-kind services such as food, transportation and tents, which help cover costs.” The WTT also “shares some national sponsorship with the Kastles” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/16).
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