SBJ/Nov. 1, 2010/SBJ In-Depth

A premium on innovation

Ask anyone who sells premium seating and they’ll tell you about the challenges in determining the best inventory mix. Do you turn vacant suites into club areas? Offer short-term contracts? Tack on additional perks? All of the above?

As sports facilities mature, those challenges become more pressing, especially for venues that overbuilt in the heyday of the premium market. It’s rare indeed to find a venue where premium seating has gone unchanged. For example:

TD Garden in Boston broke apart club-seat packages, offering mini-plans and separating them by sport, realizing that few companies and individuals can attend every event.

Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis sweetened the pot for its top customers by offering field-level seats as an add-on to their purchases.

Progressive Field in Cleveland offers one-year deals in an attempt to fill an overabundance of suites.

Staples Center in Los Angles offers gift cards and other perks to land commitments for club seats.

Miller Park in Milwaukee sees more clients pooling their resources and sharing a suite, as fewer companies are willing to go it alone.

Madison Square Garden plans to spend $800 million on renovations that, among other things, will put premium seating closer to the action.

In the pages that follow, those six venues outline the changes they’ve made to their premium-seating inventory since opening, projects still in the works, and other steps they’re taking to stay ahead of the game. Also, executives in the trenches discuss the trends they’re watching, the inventory that’s the most difficult to sell, and how the premium-seating market could look in the future.

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