SBJ/July 28 - August 3, 2003/Other News

Ticket system includes title rights

Naming rights has spread to new inventory: online ticketing systems.

Comcast-Spectacor's new full-service ticket company, Patron Solutions, is attempting to distinguish itself by promoting title sponsorship of ticket operations as an additional revenue source for facility box offices, said Fred Maglione, the firm's president.

Comcast-Spectacor, after acquiring New Era Tickets of Scranton, Pa., for an undisclosed sum in March, enters the ticketing industry offering software, hardware and support services to sports and entertainment venues and franchises.

Maglione said clients pay Patron Solutions a transaction fee based on volume of business and services required, such as telephone switchboard personnel.

The client has the opportunity to sell naming rights, and keeps all revenue from such a sponsorship. Clients will determine the price at which they wish to sell the naming rights, he added. Maglione said one Patron Solutions user was about to complete a naming-rights agreement.

Comcast-Spectacor was expected to introduce its new division at this week's International Association of Assembly Managers national convention and trade show in New Orleans.

A sponsor's name could be worked into the Web address where the venue's tickets are sold, Maglione said. With all event promotional and advertising materials stating "buy your tickets at," Maglione believes the public would more easily remember that sponsor than even the name of the facility.

"The benefit for the sponsor is dramatic, but it depends on the business they're in. We think it can be as good or better than traditional venue naming rights," he said.

Jennifer Staats Moore, chairman of Intix, an international ticketing trade organization, said, "There are lot of newer upstarts all trying to find ways to differentiate themselves. But naming rights sounds like a great idea."

Patron Solutions also allows the facility to control convenience charges, plus sell event-related merchandise and reserved parking as part of the consumer transaction, which for the most part, are now standard amenities in the industry.

Maglione has 25 years of ticketing experience. He started as a Philadelphia 76ers box office employee. Maglione said Patron Solutions has nearly 30 clients, including several inherited from New Era Tickets.

Comcast-Spectacor's three minor league baseball teams now use Patron Solutions. The NBA Sixers, NHL Flyers and AHL Phantoms are not on that list but may switch over once their contracts with Ticketmaster expire, Maglione said. Officials declined to say when those deals are up for renewal.

"Anything is possible, but Patron Solutions must stand on its own two feet when doing business, whether it's a Comcast-Spectacor entity or otherwise," Maglione said. "We are not consumer based. We work with the venues, so it can be their exclusive brand. We put ownership into their hands."

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