SBJ/20110103/Facilities

McDonald's brews up arena atrium 'takeover'

McDonald's staged a brief branding blitz inside Wells Fargo Center in December to promote its McCafé line of coffee drinks.

This was a four-week "takeover" of the Philadelphia arena's five-story atrium, an open space stretching from the main concourse to the mezzanine level. McDonald's, one of the facility's signature partners, agreed to a separate deal to apply 47 signs on the atrium's floors, walls and structural poles. Those messages bombarded tens of thousands of patrons attending Flyers and Sixers games, an Usher concert and 18 Disney on Ice performances of "Toy Story 3." The signs touted Mickey D's variety of lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolate in the atrium, an area that typically has little advertising, said officials from Comcast-Spectacor, the arena's owner/operator.


COURTESY OF COMCAST-SPECTACOR
McDonald’s used Wells Fargo Center’s atrium
in Philadelphia to promote McCafé coffee drinks.

The takeover concept came from 30th Street Station, Philadelphia's railroad station, where McDonald's promotes its products in similar fashion, said Joe Croce, vice president of sales for Comcast Sports Net, the broadcast group that handles all advertising for Comcast-Spectacor, the Flyers and the Sixers. There, local McDonald's officials call the program "station domination," said Mike Anton, an owner of six McDonald's restaurants locally and president of the group in charge of the advertising budgets for 300 stores in the market.

At Wells Fargo Center, the large McCafé graphics on the floor and pole wraps are difficult to miss. "It's way more than I expected," Anton said after visiting the arena last month to see the results. If you didn't know about McCafé before you walked in the building, he said, you did by the time you walked out.

McDonald's plans to take over the atrium again in April, tied to its national rollout of frozen strawberry lemonade drinks. The restaurant chain distributed McCafé coupons at the arena good for one free drink last month and plans to do the same thing with the frozen lemonade, Anton said.

For December and April combined, a total of 500,000 people are expected to pass through the doors for events, a number that includes the Flyers' anticipated return to the NHL playoffs, Croce said.

Comcast Sports Net is also negotiating with arena partners Toyota and Tastykake, a local snack food firm, for takeover deals this season. The monthlong campaigns are valued at $50,000, he said.

HANGARS ON: Veteran Southern California boxing promoter Roy Englebrecht has found a new home for his bimonthly fight series, a place called The Hangar at the Orange County Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa.


HKS
The ACC Hall of Champions is one of six
projects under way in Greensboro, N.C.

After 26 years of staging sold-out bouts for up-and-coming fighters at the Irvine Marriott, Englebrecht decided to move his events to the 23,000-square-foot Hangar, the newest building on the fairgrounds. It is shaped like an airplane hangar with a 50-foot ceiling and is almost twice the size of the hotel ballroom Englebrecht had used since 1985.

Most important, he's paying $1,500 less per show now. "Hotels are in the business of selling rooms and my rent had gone up each year," Englebrecht said. "I looked at Honda Center and Anaheim Convention Center, but they were too big."

UC-Irvine's 5,250-seat Bren Events Center was a possibility, but Englebrecht said booking a small arena meant his events would most likely play before more than half-empty houses. "I might have 2,200 fans but 2,800 empty seats, and perception is key," he said.

Sixty-eight percent of the fans attending the old Battle of the Ballroom, a 1,412-seat layout, bought season tickets for the six annual events, and Englebrecht plans to keep that same business model, including the number of seats available, in rebranding events as Fight Club OC.

There are two more significant changes. Fight Club OC will incorporate mixed martial arts with boxing, something new for Roy Englebrecht Promotions. In addition, Englebrecht is developing a dozen all-inclusive suites for event sponsors on the floor, 35 feet from the ring.

For $1,600 an event, those buyers receive 12 tickets a show — six ringside seats and six elevated chairs in the suite to watch the fights unobstructed — plus food, soft drinks and alcohol, wait service, three parking passes and other perks.

Englebrecht pays a set fee to Ovations Food Services, the facility's food provider, as part of his deal to set up the temporary boxes, an expense that covers hiring a bartender for the night. The first Fight Club OC event is set for Feb. 24.

COMPLEX FACILITY: Forgive Matt Brown if he's hearing the sound of jackhammers in his sleep.

The Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Complex, where Brown serves as executive director, is undergoing six construction projects simultaneously. A new aquatic center, the ACC Hall of Champions and a small outdoor amphitheater top the list of $22 million in upgrades tied to the overall property.

On a smaller scale, crews are building The Terrace, a new 12,900-square-foot banquet room, and a new fresh deli concession stand and expanding the Schiffman's Diamond Club.

Officials tore down a wall inside the club to develop a new 350-square-foot SRO platform extending into the bowl on the arena's north end. It provides diamond club members with an exclusive view of the arena floor. Previously, they could not see the event from the club.

In October, Schiffman's, a local jeweler, signed a five-year, $234,000 deal for naming rights to the former Carlyle Club. The platform will be ready for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships later this month.

The ACC Hall of Champions and The Terrace will be completed by March 1 in time for the conference's men's and women's basketball tournaments. The amphitheater will open in May and the aquatic center in July.

Ovations Food Services, the arena's food vendor, was expected to open the deli stand, on the lower west-side concourse, for last week's Duke-UNC Greensboro men's basketball game. n

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

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