SBD/June 11, 2014/Events and Attractions

Ticketing Symposium: The Challenge In Maximizing A Venue's High-End Products

The Nets were faced with a dilemma when Barclays Center was built in Brooklyn, as it would become the seventh and final major sports facility to be constructed in the N.Y. area in recent years. Barclays Center and Nets Senior VP/Suite & Ticket Sales Brian Basloe said, “We were able to survey all those buildings and challenge ourselves with, ‘How can we enhance what they’ve done and create our own wrinkles.’” Even for established franchises in older venues, the challenge exists. That subject yesterday was the focus of a panel entitled, “The Next Generation of Premium Products: High-End Products that Yield High-End Results” at the '14 Veritix Ticketing Symposium in Pittsburgh.

Basloe dishes on the difficulty of selling and
managing 30-seat suites

SLUMPING SUITES: There was one area in which the four-person panel was in complete agreement: large, 30-seat suites are becoming more difficult to sell and manage in this era. Basloe: “People are concerned about the sense of waste. The other issue is the work to distribute 30 tickets for every game and event.” As a result, many organizations are moving to smaller models for premium-seating products. At Ford Field, where there are 132 suites (115 of them on the south side of the stadium), the Lions will re-purpose some suites so that there is a total of 90. That leaves room to develop theater boxes or mini-suites, 4- to 8-seat spaces with access to deluxe eating spaces and other fan-friendly opportunities. Lions VP/Ticketing Todd Lambert said, “Coming to a Lions game or one of the big events at Ford Field is more than a three-hour experience. A lot of teams have the concept of providing a club or bar for fans to get to early, then a lunch or dinner pre-game at a common dining space before going to your suite for the game. That’s where we’re hoping to go to now.” For the Jaguars, Legends is developing 20 poolside cabanas, with a lounge area, cushioned furniture and TVs. Legends Global Sales COO Mike Ondrejko said, “We took input from the marketplace. We’re confident the cabana concept is going to be an absolute home run.”

ON PIT ROAD: You can not get closer to the action than the premium experience that Speedway Motorsports Inc. is providing at its eight race tracks with “Pit Road” suites. SMI VP/National Sales & Marketing Mike Burch said, “You’re literally looking over the show of the pit crew manager.” Speedway Motorsports also sells passes to Victory Lane. It is a $99 add-on to the price of the ticket so fans can be near the celebration and award ceremony. Burch praised the accessibility of NASCAR drivers such as Kevin Harvick, who conducts Q&A sessions hours before some races and greets fans who have paid for the experience. Burch: “It’s not like LeBron James is going to be willing to sign autographs minutes before a big game.”


QUICK HITS:

-- Lambert, on Ford Field: “The stadium is 12 years old, so it’s time for a refresh. Three key areas for us: expand the fan experience, diversify the product line and improve aesthetics.”

-- Basloe, on cooperation from team operations: “The buy-in from team ops is very important. Pat Riley spoke at an NBA TMBO event recently. When Pat Riley is heading panels on how team ops can help new business, we’ve entered a new frontier.”

-- Ondrejko, on a vital market for premium services: “There is a market for young, successful professionals to have a more social environment. Premium buyers love those opportunities.”

-- Burch, on venue evaluations: “One of the biggest challenges is, how do you look at your building in a new way? Especially if it’s a building that has been around for a while. I like bringing in people to have a new set of eyes and tell me what can be different.”
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