SBJ/20100607/Facilities

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  • After success of temporary suites, Texans find room for more

    The Houston Texans are squeezing four more temporary suites into Reliant Stadium three years after selling out a similar premium product at midfield.

    The new skyboxes, at the top of the lower bowl in the venue’s southwest corner, will be removed after the NFL season to accommodate the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Texans’ co-tenant at the publicly owned facility.

    Three of the four suites contain four seats and are priced at $25,000 annually. One unit has six seats and sells for $30,000 a season. Terms are six, eight or 10 years. A buffet meal served in a common area in back is included in the ticket package, but beer, wine and hard liquor cost extra.

    Each suite will have a flat-panel television measuring 20 to 24 inches set up on counter space facing the field, an amenity upgrade over smaller tabletop screens in mini-suites at other big league venues. Those monitors have not been ordered yet, said John Schriever, the team’s vice president of ticket sales.

    In addition, three 42-inch televisions will be mounted on the back walls of the common area. The club invested roughly $80,000 in the project and has just started marketing the new suites, Schriever said.

    The four boxes, atop the lower bowl in Reliant
    Stadium’s southwest corner, will share
    a common area for meals.

    “This is a premium opportunity for smaller companies or prospects that may not want a full suite at this time,” he said. “What we like is the low entry point as we continue to test the premium-seat market. We will reach out to a different market than in the past.”

    The price point for the new suites is half the cost of the eight temporary suites that the Texans built on the main concourse in 2007. Those 10-seaters, between the 40- and 50-yard lines, started at $50,000 a year and now cost $56,000 for the 2010 season, Schriever said.

    In both instances, the retrofits replace concession space. They have obstructed views of the main scoreboard at the top of the stadium, Schriever said.

    The Texans hope to expand the temporary suite concept for the 2010 season and build more units in the three remaining corners of the end zones, keeping in mind that they must be removed before the rodeo takes over in February, Schriever said.

    Leaving a clean building for their stadium partner is the team’s biggest challenge, Schriever said. “These are not permanent structures, so when the rodeo comes in, there are certain things we have to take out,” he said.

     PALACE UPGRADES: The Detroit Pistons and the Palace of Auburn Hills are for sale, but that hasn’t stopped the NBA club from investing capital to improve the arena property.

    The first project is outside the facility, where Palace Sports & Entertainment, the owner of the team and arena, is refurbishing the original I-75 marquee, repainting the structure and replacing its old rotating ad panels at the bottom of the sign with new Daktronics 16-millimeter LED screens.

    The new boards are larger than the old ones, and digital technology provides greater flexibility to display more sponsors’ brands compared with the current setup, said Palace Sports spokesman Jeff Corey.

    The second project, tentative at this point, involves converting an enclosed midlevel space at center court into a high-end, all-inclusive party suite for 50 to 80 people. It was previously reserved for media during the NBA Finals and hockey events at the Palace.

    “It was already one big space but not well-designed or well-utilized,” said Alan Ostfield, Palace Sports’ president and CEO. “It will be a much nicer place to attend the game, bring clients and socialize.”

    Palace Sports has just started talks on the party suite redesign with Rossetti, the architect that designed the arena and most of its renovations over the past 22 years, and it remains in the exploration stage. If it moves forward, the tab would run about $500,000 for the two projects, Ostfield said.

    “If we have to spend money, we will,” he said. “The building is still in great shape and doing well.” 

    Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusiness-journal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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