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SBJ/February 13 - 19, 2006/Other News
Executives face challenge of
new revenue, new ideas
Published February 13, 2006
|Which sports do the best job of handling sponsorships?|
|PGA Tour / Golf||12 %|
|Minor League Baseball||8 %|
|College / NCAA||4 %|
|ABC Sports / ESPN||2 %|
|Source: Corporate Sponsorship Survey Report|
BETTMAN’S LIGHTER SIDE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in rare form as he gave the keynote address at the National Sports Forum in Philadelphia late last month. Many in the audience said they saw a side of the commissioner that they have never seen before. Bettman has always been good on the stump, as his legal background taught him how to clearly articulate and debate his point of view. But in front of a group largely made up of team and league executives, he was quick, witty, offered up clever sarcasm without being biting and even threw a few jabs. In nearly 30 minutes of questions from the audience, he demonstrated why the league’s team owners have so much trust in him.
Asked by an NFL team executive about dealing with the difference in local revenue and national revenue, an issue that has the NFL “perplexed,” Bettman smiled and said, “I’ve never heard anyone from the NFL say they are perplexed by anything.”
|Gary Bettman (shown here in January) displayed his
quick wit for team and league executives.
On the NHL’s attitude toward Las Vegas: “If there is no sports book on NHL games, than I am not concerned about it. It’s not a bad place to be. Whatever team goes to Las Vegas first, I think, will be very successful.”
A PALACE SPORTS MIRACLE?: Team executives continue to focus on developing new revenue streams inside their buildings. The conversion of dead space to premium areas, including bunker suites, was a model many people are talking about. Palace Sports & Entertainment CEO Tom Wilson said the new bunker suites at The Palace have sold well, at a cost of around $400,000 a year, and that while the suites don’t include a view of the court, they do include courtside seats. Wilson said that while the first wave of sales are strong, the biggest challenge will be on the renewal. “Selling it twice may be the biggest miracle of all,” he said. “We are all chasing revenue and we’re all in the business of trying to figure out how to keep fans for a longer period of time in our building. How do you make it an evening?”
THE CUSTOMER IS RIGHT: In discussing renovations to existing buildings, one of the more interesting comments — for its simple clarity — on how to figure out what changes are needed came from Wilson, who said, “The patrons will tell you what the problems are in your building. Are your concourses crammed? Are there lines nine-deep for the concessions? Are people calling up trying to get restaurant reservations because of how long they wait for food? You can watch how the fans use the building to find what the problems are.”
|The “bunker suites” at The Palace have sold well
despite no view of the court or action.
LONGING FOR THE DAYS OF DR. J: The sales and marketing challenges facing the Philadelphia 76ers were clearly evident during a recent visit to the Wachovia Center. The 76ers have had two 50-win seasons in 19 years and their attendance — and buzz in the community — is reflective of that mediocrity. Through games played on Monday, Feb. 6, the Sixers were averaging 15,723 fans a game this season for their 26 home dates, down 6.9 percent from an average of 16,895 for 21 home games through Feb. 6 last season. That could drop further as the team meanders through another .500 season, as it was 24-24 as of Feb. 7. Meanwhile, despite the yearlong lockout, the Flyers have made a solid return in this notorious hockey town, as the team was 31-15-9 as of last week and averaging 19,626 per game for 28 home dates, up 2 percent from 19,250 for 26 dates through Feb. 6, 2004, the last season played. One Comcast-Spectacor high-ranking employee put it this way: “There is a sense of [Allen] Iverson fatigue here. He’s been here 10 years, and since the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl, there is less patience among the fans here, they don’t just want [the 76ers] to make the playoffs anymore.
GALLOWAY LOOKS AHEAD: John Galloway, Pepsi vice president of sports marketing and media, said, “It will be a short time period before the merger of the Internet and television.” He told a team-based audience, “Sports Web sites are unique. You should look at those like TV channels, because that is what they are going to be in a few years. And if the programming and content is good, then that’s an advantage for you and I am going to pay to advertise on that.”
Galloway was frank about the disappointing box office returns of “First Descent.” The film, which was financed and developed by the Pepsi-backed MD Films, has taken in just over $750,000, and will be released on DVD on Feb. 21. He acknowledged the fi lm was “a big gamble for the brand Mountain Dew,” and added, “We missed our target with the audience, but we got a lot of credibility for the brand within the action sports space, and so the brand will live on, and is stronger for it.”
MANDALAY EYES PROGRAMMING: Mandalay Baseball President Howard Nuchow said an opportunity for his operation, which includes fi ve minor league baseball teams, is searching for the next killer app from a programming perspective. “We are looking to create shows or programming that we own, like ‘Disney on Ice,’” Nuchow said. “We are looking hard at that, programming that we can roll out and test in our buildings and venues and repurpose to fi ll minor league stadiums around the country during times when games are not being played.” Mandalay has buildings in Dayton, Ohio; Frisco, Texas; Las Vegas; Hagerstown, Md.; and Erie, Pa.
|NBA team execs (from left) Len Komoroski, Andy Dolich and
Tom Wilson answer a question from CBS’s Armen Keteyian during
the Turnkey Sports Challenge at the National Sports Forum.
|Ripken says in minor league baseball,
“Our mascot is more important than our shortstop.”
… Keep an eye on Mike Haynes, NFL vice president of player and employee development. The 14-year NFL veteran was extremely visible in Detroit and is clearly an influential player within league circles.
… In accepting the Man of the Year Award, Peyton Manning showed again why he is one of the NFL’s most respected players. Supremely articulate, punctuating his words with care and emphasis, Manning talked about his belief in giving back to others. He talked of visiting victims of Hurricane Katrina with his brother, Eli, and of the importance of “listening” to people in need. “We just sat there and listened for hours to their stories,” Manning said. His remarks were a refreshing change from a business full of people who love the sound of their own voice. He also implored his colleagues in sports to do more. “I challenge each player to consider the impact they have as professional athletes,” he said, “and do something with that.”
Abraham Madkour is executive editor of SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.
He can be reached at email@example.com.