SBJ/June 9 - 15, 2003/This Weeks Issue

MSU jumps through hoops for Ford Field contest

Michigan State athletic department officials staged an ice hockey game in their football stadium in October 2001. Now they plan to pull off a basketball game against Kentucky at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.

The game, dubbed "The BasketBowl — Hoops on the 50" will be played Dec. 13 and will air on CBS.

At capacity the game would beat the world record for basketball attendance of 75,000, set in 1951 by a Harlem Globetrotters game at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

The Breslin Center, the Spartans' home facility, seats only about 15,000 and regularly plays to sold-out crowds.

"It's a celebration of basketball and it's an event that we think our fans want," said Mark Hollis, Michigan State's associate athletic director.

The event came together in large part because of the relationship between Michigan State and the Lions, Hollis said. (Lions coach Steve Mariucci is Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo's best friend from childhood; the Lions' offensive coordinator, Sherman Lewis, is a former Michigan State player, and several on the Lions staff are graduates.)

A typical Michigan State basketball game generates between $200,000 and $250,000. The BasketBowl is expected to at least double that figure but could generate more than $1 million "depending on how it shakes out," Hollis said.

Revenue would come from ticket sales, suite sales (each school will get four to 10 suites to sell), licensed merchandise sales and sponsorship sales, which Hollis estimates will be between $400,000 and $600,000. Michigan State will not get any additional TV revenue, since the game is part of the Big Ten's contract with CBS and conference television revenue is split among the league's 11 members.

Kentucky, meanwhile, will get an increased payout of $100,000 for the game. The game, part of a home-and-home series between the schools, would have paid Kentucky $25,000 if played at the Breslin Center.

Tickets will range from $8 to $125, with about 60 percent of the tickets costing less than $14, Hollis said. Tickets for home games normally run $20.

Season-ticket holders and athletic department donors get first crack at buying tickets. An initial mailing to 3,000 donors and basketball season-ticket holders had sold 6,000 tickets as of last Monday.

An additional 12,500-piece mailing was scheduled to go out to other donors and football season-ticket holders last week. General ticket sales will begin July 8.

Michigan State will offer students the option of buying on-field tickets that would put them on the field in a concert "mosh-pit" type setup, Hollis said. The basketball court will be elevated about three feet off the field, so students on the field will be able to look up at the court.

SWAC ON TRACK: The Southwestern Athletic Conference is making strides toward developing a revenue-sharing program for its 10 schools.

The conference — under Commissioner Robert Vowels, who joined the conference in December — hired Home Town Sports Promotions to conduct a branding survey and develop a brand strategy for the conference. It also hired New Vision Sports Properties, an agency established to increase revenue streams for historically black colleges and universities, to develop a marketing strategy and sell sponsorships.

The conference also recently reached a five-year, multimillion-dollar deal with the Major Broadcasting Cable network, which will broadcast 13 conference football games this year and 12 conference basketball games.

The partnerships will help increase awareness of the conference and its members as well as develop new revenue streams for its members, Vowels said.

New Vision has already secured a sponsorship with PSI 20/20, a premium item/promotions company, and an agreement with DaDa Footwear for the league, Vowels said. He would not disclose the value of the deals except to say that conference sponsorships sell for at least $100,000 annually.

New Vision has similar agreements with two other historically black conferences, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

SWEETER ORANGE: The 2003 Orange Bowl, which pitted Iowa against Southern California at Pro Player Stadium on Jan. 2, had a $65 million economic impact on the three-county area of Miami-Dade County, Broward County and Palm Beach County, according to a report prepared by the Sport Management Research Institute for the Orange Bowl Committee. That figure is up almost $10 million from the $56.4 million economic impact reported for the 2001 game, which was the national title game that year. A main factor affecting the increase was about $8 million in spending in local communities and businesses, according to the report. The direct economic impact, which considers the

New ad campaign from CSTV catches the passion of college sports.
spending patterns of spectators, media, teams and conferences, was $39.3 million this year, compared with $34.1 million in 2001.

CSTV HITS THE ROAD: College Sports Television will tout its new ad campaign at the National Cable Show in Chicago this week with an RV wrapped in the CSTV logo and the campaign's tag line: "College sports are just better."

The campaign will be used in radio, print and television ads. Print ads in select magazines have already begun appearing. The ads feature athletes with thought lines that state why they are so passionate about their sports. An ad with a baseball player, for example, says "Passion never goes on strike."

CSTV officials would not say how much they are spending on the campaign.

Jennifer Lee can be reached at jlee@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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