SBJ/Jan. 10-16, 2011/Facilities

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  • Cubs tie new spring home, mixed-use development in proposal

    Don Muret
    The city of Mesa, Ariz., and the Chicago Cubs have jointly issued a design proposal for a new $99 million spring training facility tied to a mixed-use development that would raise the bar for those MLB complexes.

    The request for statement of qualifications, released Dec. 21, lists the primary design features as a 15,000-seat stadium, a 50,000-square-foot clubhouse, six full-size baseball practice fields, additional fields, covered batting tunnels and pitching mounds.

    The proposal also mentions the potential for the architect to develop a master plan for future commercial and retail development, a separate piece of the project called Wrigleyville West. The Ricketts family, owners of the Cubs, wants to create a similar version of the bar and restaurant district that’s across the street from Wrigley Field in Chicago.

    It’s that part of the project in Mesa that would set the Cubs apart from other spring training sites in Arizona, where baseball is generally the only activity, said Michael Hallmark, an architect working on a new football stadium study for Arizona State University.

    Other MLB teams have attached mixed-use to spring training with varying degrees of success. Main Street Glendale, initially part of Camelback Ranch, the two-year-old Cactus League complex shared by the Dodgers and White Sox, is in foreclosure after the primary developer defaulted on $120 million in loans.

    “It will be interesting to see what happens because that site is only two miles away from Arizona State and could become part of a larger district development for them,” Hallmark said. “It’s a much smarter development than a lot of other spring training facilities.”

    The 125-acre site, now a city park with ball fields and a golf course, is attractive to developers because it is near two major highways and connected to the borders of Mesa, Scottsdale and Tempe, a convergence of ASU student activity, Scottsdale’s high-end hotels and Mesa’s business community, said Cubs President Crane Kenney.

    “It’s ground zero with everything in one place,” said Kenney, who is to meet Tuesday with architects to discuss the project during a pre-bid meeting in Mesa.

    Local voters approved two measures to help fund the project, including a 2 percent increase in Mesa hotel taxes. The Cubs, perennially the top draw in the Cactus League, have the first option to invest in developing Wrigleyville West, said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.

    Proposals are due Feb. 3, with presentations and a shortlist to be completed the week of Feb. 27. An architect would be selected soon after that date, with groundbreaking slated for late this summer or early fall, Smith said.

    The opening is scheduled for spring training 2014.

    SNEAKER CITY: The hype over the launch of the new Air Jordan XI Retro basketball shoe produced the best non-game-day sales in four years for the Charlotte Bobcats’ team store at Time Warner Cable Arena.

    The NBA club rebranded its team store to sell more Jordan Brand merchandise after Michael Jordan became the
    Jordan Shoe Launch First To Buy
    The Charlotte Bobcats gave followers a chance to line up for some new Air Jordans.
    team’s majority owner last year. As part of that effort, it was one of the few retail outlets in Charlotte allowed to sell the new shoe two days before Christmas.

    The Bobcats sold all of their 100 pairs within 41 minutes after providing opportunities for 500 people among season-ticket holders, social media followers and other fans to buy the sneakers. Each person in line had to have a special platinum ticket obtained at the Bobcats-Raptors game one week before the shoe launch, said Fred Whitfield, the team’s president and chief operating officer.

    The line started outside the arena about 3:30 a.m., more than 10 hours before the store opened at 2 p.m. Dec. 23, Whitfield said. Everybody in line got autographs from Bobcats players and two upper-deck tickets to the Jan. 8 game.

    Overall, team store revenue is up 50 percent compared with last season.

    The Bobcats plan to hold another Jordan shoe launch in mid-February.�0;0;8;

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

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  • Legends adds premium sales training

    The joint venture established by the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees is expanding its business to sales training and installing customer relationship management systems while ramping up staff.

    Legends Premium Services, a new division of Legends Hospitality Management, the company that runs stadium concessions and premium dining for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, has deals in place with six big league clubs for sales training.

    In addition, Legends is installing proprietary CRM software systems for the San Francisco 49ers and the Rose Bowl Operating Co., two clients where Premium Services has full-time employees selling suites and club seats for stadium projects. Legends had been working for the 49ers as a consultant to set prices for suites and club seats. In Pasadena, the deal involves IMG-Legends, a separate joint venture between Legends Premium Services and IMG College focusing on selling premium seats for college sports facilities.

    For Legends, the two new lines of business, plus the premium seat sales piece, are part of the plan to expand its parent company, owned by the Cowboys, Yankees and two private equity firms, Goldman Sachs and CIC Partners. Legends Hospitality Management is a separate entity from the two teams, but the clubs have officials sitting on Legends’ board of directors.

    “When we started Legends in [October 2008] we wanted to make sure we took care of Yankee Stadium and Cowboys Stadium and build a hell of a food and beverage company, and I think we have,” said Mike Rawlings, Legends Hospitality Management’s CEO. “But it’s not going to be just [food]. The idea was we would be acquiring and starting new divisions and the first one is Legends Premium Sales. We have created a strategy around not just selling premium seats but being the expert in all that and bringing new capabilities in each one of those areas and picking up some accounts. This business is now up and running, and we expect very big things of it.”

    Chad Estis is president of Legends Premium Sales. He has hired nine full-time employees for premium-seat sales, sales training and CRM installations. Estis, principally involved in producing $550 million in revenue tied to 300 suites and 15,000 club seats at Cowboys Stadium, continues his job as the Cowboys’ senior vice president of

    Chad Estis
    marketing and event booking, but his primary role now will be leading Legends Premium Sales out of Arlington, Texas, site of Cowboys Stadium.

    By branching out into premium-seat sales, Legends will compete primarily against CSL Marketing Group. CSL principal Bill Rhoda consulted with the Cowboys to develop their premium-seat campaign in the early days of planning their $1.2 billion stadium, and his firm was a finalist for the Rose Bowl job.

    Estis has tabbed Lance Tyson as Legends Premium Services’ vice president of training. Tyson, based in Columbus, Ohio, ran his own sales consulting business for 15 years and worked with the Eagles and with Estis at the Cowboys to sell premium seats for their new stadiums. Tyson and Estis have used their contacts at past employers to sign sales training deals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Crew, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Those agreements range from monthly to quarterly sessions where Tyson comes into town for a few days and works with both front-line sales people and their managers. As is customary, the initial deals are relationship based. The Philadelphia 76ers’ Joe Ondrejko, the team’s new vice president of ticket sales, worked with Tyson while at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Tyson came to Philadelphia in August, one month after Ondrejko started with the Sixers, to help him train a 30-person sales staff. Since that time, the NBA club has seen mini-plan sales escalate 120 percent this season compared with last year. Ondrejko said Tyson’s expertise played a big part in that growth of the business.

    “Lance has worked across all leagues, and I think he’s the best sales trainer out there that understands selling within the sports environment,” Estis said. “He’s versatile, offers a wide variety of services to the teams with an emphasis on training premium sales but also sponsorship, which our industry has probably been lacking in utilizing outside training.”

    The Padres, a current client, have Tyson booked for Petco Park the first week of February. They are also using independent ticket sales consultant Charlie Chislaghi to train a new class of 20 inside sales representatives as the club searches for new ways to rebuild its season-ticket base, said Brent Stehlik, the Padres’ senior vice president of ballpark operations, tickets sales and service and non-baseball events. Stehlik worked with Estis at the Cowboys and Tampa Bay Lightning.

    By focusing on sales training, Legends Premium Services joins other entities such as Chislaghi’s Sports Sales Consulting, Game Face and, in the college ranks, The Aspire Group and The DiFebo Co.

    On the CRM side, Legends is installing Microsoft Dynamics programs for both the 49ers and Rose Bowl stadium projects and customizing the software to meet the needs for each facility. Moving forward, Estis said Legends can do additional installations and train staff on those systems within a 45-day period. Kore Interactive of Scottsdale, Ariz., for example, is a competitor for CRM installations, Estis said.

    “We come at that business from a little bit of a different angle,” he said. “We’re not a tech company. We really approach it from a sales and marketing perspective. We think we’ve created a simplified CRM system that has high usage rates and we apply a lot of training to it, with the end goal being that you’re going to get your salespeople to fully adopt and use it.”

    On the college front, IMG-Legends has signed a 15-year deal with the Rose Bowl to sell 44 suites, 1,428 club seats and 32 loge boxes, said Darryl Dunn, the stadium’s general manager. Those new premium seats will help fund the stadium’s $170 million renovation.

    Legends hired Jason Gonella, previously AEG’s vice president of premium sales, as vice president in charge of the Rose Bowl renovation. He’s joined by James Peterson, Legends’ director of sales, who sold premium seats for Cowboys Stadium. Both are based in Southern California.

    IMG-Legends is also selling premium seats for Rentschler Field in Hartford, Conn., the home of University of Connecticut football. That deal is a result of IMG College holding the Big East Conference school’s multimedia rights, said Mark Dyer, the firm’s senior vice president of strategic planning and development.

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  • AEG, MasterCard reach first naming deal for Olympics facility in Beijing

    AEG Global Partnerships continues to break new ground in China after negotiating MasterCard’s naming-rights deal for the former Wukesong Indoor Stadium in Beijing.

    The five-year agreement, valued at more than $4 million annually, renames the arena MasterCard Center. The 18,000-seat facility served as the basketball venue for the 2008 Olympics and is the first Olympics facility in Beijing to be rebranded commercially.

    Wukesong Indoor Arena
    Wukesong Indoor Stadium, which seats 18,000, played host to basketball games during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

    It is also the first naming-rights deal in the country’s capital and the first time MasterCard has put its name on an arena.

    Elsewhere, the credit card company has its name on the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ practice facility, which opened in 2009.

    In Beijing, the deal took seven to eight months from start to finish, said Todd Goldstein, president of AEG Global Partnerships, not unusual in the world of naming rights. Coincidentally, MasterCard’s color scheme matches China’s red and gold flag, Goldstein said.

    “There was no question we needed to convince a number of individuals on their side why naming rights can be powerful and successful,” he said. “It’s a world-class facility and much different than what China had in the past.”

    MasterCard’s activation will include setting up branded, interactive kiosks tied to VIP rooms, Goldstein said. The scope of those kiosks has yet to be identified, but MasterCard officials are excited to have the opportunity to reach a large portion of China’s population in its capital city.

    “Everybody coming into the arena will either be an existing or a potential customer,” Goldstein said.

    The terms also call for MasterCard to support content and programming by sponsoring top international and regional artists. The agreement is a partnership among MasterCard, the NBA, AEG and Bloomage International Investment Group, a real estate firm that owns and operates the arena.

    AEG, Bloomage’s arena operations consultant, and event promoter AEG Live, its sister company, are expected to schedule more than 200 dates during the next five years, including NBA basketball, table tennis and badminton. Concerts by the Eagles, the Black Eyed Peas and Hong Kong singer/songwriter Jacky Cheung are already booked for this year.

    The partnership plays a key role in MasterCard’s campaign to push public awareness of its brand and services in China. MasterCard sponsors a fashion event in Shanghai and runs programs in the country to support female education. The deal takes effect Jan. 21, continuing through 2015. There are options to extend the naming rights beyond that date.

    The deal is AEG Global Partnerships’ second one in China. In 2009, the group sold naming rights to German automaker Mercedes-Benz for an 18,000-seat arena in Shanghai. That 10-year deal is valued at $6 million annually.

    Print | Tags: MasterCard, Olympics, Basketball, NBA, Hockey, Toronto Maple Leafs, Mercedes Benz
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