SBJ/20100308/Facilities

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  • At Bakersfield D-League club’s new home, it’s all courtside seats, suites and clubs

    The owners of the NBA Development League’s Bakersfield Jam say they are headed in the right direction financially after moving the club’s home games to its practice facility, where every seat is a premium seat.

    It’s a new business model that other D-League teams are watching closely, league President Dan Reed said.

    After three years as a tenant at Rabobank Arena, the city’s 10,063-seat venue where the team had to pay $200,000 in rent annually and said it lost a few million dollars, Jam officials temporarily shut down operations in April.

    In June, the club started up again with a plan to cut costs by playing all but one of 24 home games at its 420-seat practice facility, Jam Events Center, which the team owns and operates.

    The Jam’s owners say the setup makes
    business sense.

    The $2 million venue in Oildale, a north Bakersfield suburb, has three seating packages: 120 courtside seats, 14 open-air suites built on risers along the sidelines and four enclosed lofts at the south end on the second floor. There is one concession stand, a lounge and a cigar room, plus a fitness center open to season-ticket holders and team locker rooms.

    The team distributes 100 tickets to the visiting team and local community groups. Those ticket-holders watch the game from inside the lounge.

    The Jam played its first game at the facility Dec. 3., and every game has been a sellout, team officials said.

    The club has sold 10 of the 14 suites for $20,000 and two of the four lofts for $40,000, all in one-year deals, said team co-owner David Higdon. The suites seat six to eight people, and the lofts accommodate 12. Season tickets for about 80 of 120 courtside seats have been sold, with a minimum buy of two seats for $7,000.

    The Jam markets the courtside seats and skyboxes to local companies tied to the region’s petroleum and agricultural industries, providing valuable network opportunities among those businesses, Higdon said.

    All season-ticket holders are allowed to play golf at the Riviera Country Club, host of the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open. They also have access to tickets for select NBA, MLB and Chivas USA games as well as use of their seats for special events at the practice facility.

    That piece of business at Jam Events Center is a key part of the overall plan, Higdon said. The Jam’s goal is to generate up to $100,000 annually in revenue from concerts, mixed martial arts and corporate meetings. Nestlé, whose Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream brand is based in Bakersfield, held an international conference there in late February.

    Moving to a much smaller venue and streamlining the front office has helped cut the Jam’s operating budget in half, from between $1.2 million and $1.4 million to between $700,000 and $750,000. “We’re pretty close to breaking even for the first time,” Higdon said.

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  • Variable or dynamic, ticket pricing gets fresh look from teams

    The Phoenix Suns hope a change in their method of pricing season tickets will help boost sales for individual games. Rather than give every game on a season ticket the same face value, the team will vary the price by game for the first time next season.

     The Suns have used such variable pricing in their single-game sales for years. The move to season tickets follows a trend that other NBA teams have adopted this season, league officials said.

    The team spoke about the change during the fifth annual Tickets.com Executive Summit, which recently drew about 70 attendees from teams, leagues, facilities and vendors tied to the ticketing industry. Some clubs, such as the Suns, are not Tickets.com clients.

    To be clear, the Suns are not raising season-ticket prices for 2010-11, said John Walker, the team’s senior vice president of business development. A season ticket valued at $100 a seat for 44 games in 2009-10 will still cost $4,400.

    But the face value for each game at US Airways Center will fluctuate depending on several factors, including the opponent, day of the week and past sales history, Walker said. A marquee Saturday night game against the Lakers could be priced above that figure, and a Tuesday night game against the Bucks well below.

    By dropping the face value of that ticket against Milwaukee to a single-game price of $50, the Suns would have a better chance of selling it for $60 at the box office on game day, compared with struggling to sell it for the current $100 face price to protect season-ticket holders, he said.

    Variably pricing season tickets also provides a more accurate starting point for secondary market activity, Walker thinks.

    Season-ticket holders told Walker they essentially can’t give away tickets for less attractive games and are selling them for as little as $10 on Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange, the team’s official online reseller. “They feel like they’re really taking it in the shorts,” he said.

    “If that game was more accurately priced in the beginning at $30 or $40, then backing off of that from the secondary perspective is not quite as painful.”

     DYNAMICALLY SPEAKING: The Suns, in addition to variably pricing season tickets, are among several teams considering going one step further by establishing dynamic pricing for single games. In a texting poll, 67 percent of attendees said they plan to implement dynamic pricing in 2010.

    Dynamic pricing uses mathematical formulas to adjust single-game ticket prices as late as the day of the game. Software developers Qcue and Digonex, which both have deals for dynamic-pricing programs at the big league level, had officials discussing market pricing at the summit.

    Qcue, after doing deals with the San Francisco Giants and Dallas Stars in 2009, has signed the Cleveland Indians for 2010 and is talking with International Speedway Corp. about using one of its NASCAR tracks as a test case this season. Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway, two ISC properties, are both Tickets.com clients, as are the Giants and Stars.

    ISC spokesman Lenny Santiago said last week the company was not ready to announce a dynamic pricing deal and was pursuing several pricing strategies across its 13 facilities. ISC has already adjusted prices on more than 575,000 tickets for 2010, Santiago said.

    Digonex has partnered with the Cleveland Cavaliers on dynamic pricing and has another deal pending with a second NBA team, said Jeff Eglen, Digonex’s vice president of strategy. The Cavs use Veritix, a company owned by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, for ticketing.

    The Suns, after a five-year run of sellouts and NBA playoff appearances, did not make the postseason last year and renewed 60 percent of season-ticket accounts for this season, leaving up to 5,000 seats available for every game.

    “Our season-ticket holders are paying an inordinate amount of money and I don’t really want to piss them off by lowering prices,” Walker said. “At the same time, we still do have high-demand games, where we can double and triple prices and people will still pay it.”

    The Suns hope to review proposals from Qcue and Digonex in the next three months and make a decision by June 1.

     PRICE CHECK: All eyes are on the Giants, the first major league team to dynamically price every seat at their facility, 41,914-seat AT&T Park. The club is expanding its program to cover the whole ballpark after using Qcue to adjust ticket prices for about 2,000 outfield and upper-deck seats in 2009.

    Dynamic pricing for the whole ballpark gives
    Giants fans an array of ticket prices to study.

    Taking a peek at SFGiants.com about one month before Opening Day, the pricing chart reveals a mind-boggling 1,680 prices for 84 games. Messages inform fans that market pricing applies to all tickets and that they should buy early to lock in their price and location.

    “We’re not done,” said Russ Stanley, the Giants’ managing vice president of ticket services and client relations. “What you see a month from now will be a lot different. We just wanted to give fans a chance to see what prices will look like.”

    By Opening Day, the site will be fully developed to the point that when fans click to buy tickets, the game they choose will pop up as well as the three games before and after the date they choose, similar to the airline ticketing model, Stanley said.

    Qcue CEO Barry Kahn said, “Unfortunately, the industry has spent a long time pretending that people don’t look at prices when they buy tickets.”

    “So we’re trying to find a way to provide them this information and let them know the decisions they can make: For the same price, they can now get bleachers for the Red Sox game or club level for the Orioles,” he said. “That’s a powerful choice. Now we just need a better way to communicate it.”

    Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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  • Variable or dynamic, ticket pricing gets fresh look from teams

    The Phoenix Suns hope a change in their method of pricing season tickets will help boost sales for individual games. Rather than give every game on a season ticket the same face value, the team will vary the price by game for the first time next season.

     The Suns have used such variable pricing in their single-game sales for years. The move to season tickets follows a trend that other NBA teams have adopted this season, league officials said.

    The team spoke about the change during the fifth annual Tickets.com Executive Summit, which recently drew about 70 attendees from teams, leagues, facilities and vendors tied to the ticketing industry. Some clubs, such as the Suns, are not Tickets.com clients.

    To be clear, the Suns are not raising season-ticket prices for 2010-11, said John Walker, the team’s senior vice president of business development. A season ticket valued at $100 a seat for 44 games in 2009-10 will still cost $4,400.

    But the face value for each game at US Airways Center will fluctuate depending on several factors, including the opponent, day of the week and past sales history, Walker said. A marquee Saturday night game against the Lakers could be priced above that figure, and a Tuesday night game against the Bucks well below.

    By dropping the face value of that ticket against Milwaukee to a single-game price of $50, the Suns would have a better chance of selling it for $60 at the box office on game day, compared with struggling to sell it for the current $100 face price to protect season-ticket holders, he said.

    Variably pricing season tickets also provides a more accurate starting point for secondary market activity, Walker thinks.

    Season-ticket holders told Walker they essentially can’t give away tickets for less attractive games and are selling them for as little as $10 on Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange, the team’s official online reseller. “They feel like they’re really taking it in the shorts,” he said.

    “If that game was more accurately priced in the beginning at $30 or $40, then backing off of that from the secondary perspective is not quite as painful.”

     DYNAMICALLY SPEAKING: The Suns, in addition to variably pricing season tickets, are among several teams considering going one step further by establishing dynamic pricing for single games. In a texting poll, 67 percent of attendees said they plan to implement dynamic pricing in 2010.

    Dynamic pricing uses mathematical formulas to adjust single-game ticket prices as late as the day of the game. Software developers Qcue and Digonex, which both have deals for dynamic-pricing programs at the big league level, had officials discussing market pricing at the summit.

    Qcue, after doing deals with the San Francisco Giants and Dallas Stars in 2009, has signed the Cleveland Indians for 2010 and is talking with International Speedway Corp. about using one of its NASCAR tracks as a test case this season. Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway, two ISC properties, are both Tickets.com clients, as are the Giants and Stars.

    ISC spokesman Lenny Santiago said last week the company was not ready to announce a dynamic pricing deal and was pursuing several pricing strategies across its 13 facilities. ISC has already adjusted prices on more than 575,000 tickets for 2010, Santiago said.

    Digonex has partnered with the Cleveland Cavaliers on dynamic pricing and has another deal pending with a second NBA team, said Jeff Eglen, Digonex’s vice president of strategy. The Cavs use Veritix, a company owned by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, for ticketing.

    The Suns, after a five-year run of sellouts and NBA playoff appearances, did not make the postseason last year and renewed 60 percent of season-ticket accounts for this season, leaving up to 5,000 seats available for every game.

    “Our season-ticket holders are paying an inordinate amount of money and I don’t really want to piss them off by lowering prices,” Walker said. “At the same time, we still do have high-demand games, where we can double and triple prices and people will still pay it.”

    The Suns hope to review proposals from Qcue and Digonex in the next three months and make a decision by June 1.

     PRICE CHECK: All eyes are on the Giants, the first major league team to dynamically price every seat at their facility, 41,914-seat AT&T Park. The club is expanding its program to cover the whole ballpark after using Qcue to adjust ticket prices for about 2,000 outfield and upper-deck seats in 2009.

    Dynamic pricing for the whole ballpark gives
    Giants fans an array of ticket prices to study.

    Taking a peek at SFGiants.com about one month before Opening Day, the pricing chart reveals a mind-boggling 1,680 prices for 84 games. Messages inform fans that market pricing applies to all tickets and that they should buy early to lock in their price and location.

    “We’re not done,” said Russ Stanley, the Giants’ managing vice president of ticket services and client relations. “What you see a month from now will be a lot different. We just wanted to give fans a chance to see what prices will look like.”

    By Opening Day, the site will be fully developed to the point that when fans click to buy tickets, the game they choose will pop up as well as the three games before and after the date they choose, similar to the airline ticketing model, Stanley said.

    Qcue CEO Barry Kahn said, “Unfortunately, the industry has spent a long time pretending that people don’t look at prices when they buy tickets.”

    “So we’re trying to find a way to provide them this information and let them know the decisions they can make: For the same price, they can now get bleachers for the Red Sox game or club level for the Orioles,” he said. “That’s a powerful choice. Now we just need a better way to communicate it.”

    Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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