SBJ/April 3 - 9, 2006/World Congress Of Sports

Properties polish their skills as developers

The Growing Portfolios of Sports Ownership and Operations

NASCAR has been known for years to spend money developing land inside its racetracks, but the motorsports giant may in the future explore developing the land surrounding its facilities, said Lesa France Kennedy, president of International Speedway Corp., during a panel on sports ownership.

Rick Welts of the Phoenix Suns (left), Wasserman
Media Group’s Casey Wasserman
“We bring a lot of people in, and we feel like that is something to spin into,” she said.

Such spending would be part of an emerging trend in which more and more franchises will invest in real estate development, and teams such as the Phoenix Suns have already begun to move in that direction. Suns President Rick Welts said they plan to build a hotel and condominium complex beside their US Airways Center.

“We’re hedging our bets a little bit by purchasing other land around there that we may or may not develop,” he said, “but we won’t regret not owning the land at some point in time when we’ve made it much more viable downtown.”

Because NBA attendance has stagnated in some markets, teams in that league have looked to make in-game enhancements, Welts said. With the price of tickets for 48 minutes of basketball ranging from $10 to $1,500, there’s increasing pressure to give value to spectators. Welts said the Suns have seven to eight products for spectators on any given night.

“It has to be that there’s something from the time they leave the house until the time they leave the arena, there’s something that makes it worth paying $1,500,” he said, “whether it’s valet parking or something else.”

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