SBJ/June 27 - July 3, 2011/Events and Attractions

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  • Gold Cup numbers shine as predicted

    The 2011 Gold Cup did not disappoint CONCACAF officials who predicted the tournament would set records for ticket sales, TV ratings and overall revenue.

    The tourney, which featured competition among North American, Central American and Caribbean national teams, sold out nine of 13 doubleheader matches, posted strong television viewership on Univision and Fox Soccer, and nearly doubled its corporate sponsorship portfolio.

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    The Mexican team (in black) drove increases in Gold Cup viewership and attendance.
    “We will surpass our budget estimates substantially,” said Italo Zanzi, deputy general secretary for CONCACAF, who declined to reveal the tournament’s total revenue. “We came in with very high expectations and surpassed them, even in cities where [the game] did not sell out.”

    The tournament saw relatively soft attendance numbers for U.S. team games at Ford Field in Detroit and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, drawing 28,209 and 27,731, respectively, for those matches. But games featuring the Mexican national team sold out Cowboys Stadium, Soldier Field and New Meadowlands Stadium. Reliant Stadium and the Rose Bowl, which played host to the semifinals and final, also sold out.

    The tournament drew a final attendance of 612,964, eclipsing the high mark of 490,852 set in 2007. The U.S. has been the host or has co-hosted with Mexico since the event made its debut in 1991.

    The jump in attendance marks a rebound for the Gold Cup, which in 2009 saw its gate numbers drop 4 percent from 2007 numbers after games in Phoenix and Seattle drew less-than-stellar crowds.

    “We had a higher capacity than in [2009] so we had the ability to sell more tickets,” Zanzi said. “And the bigger stadiums and markets were able to outperform what we did in 2009.”

    The event also delivered strong numbers for broadcast partners Univision and Fox Soccer. Games featuring the Mexican national team saw the biggest increases on Univision. Mexico’s 2-0 victory over Honduras in the June 22 semifinals averaged 7.1 million viewers, becoming the top prime-time sports telecast in Univision’s 24-year history.

    “Mexico has always been the big story for us, but I would say it’s more pronounced this year,” said Sandy Brown, president of sports for Univision. “We did a better job of promoting [Gold Cup] across the network.”

    Fox Soccer televised U.S. national team games, and its broadcast of the U.S. vs. Jamaica quarterfinal averaged a 0.56 rating and 311,000 viewers, marking a 145 percent jump from the 2009 U.S. vs. Panama quarterfinal.

    Anticipation for strong attendance and ratings helped the Gold Cup sign 13 corporate partners, up from seven in 2009. A source familiar with the tournament valued partnerships in the mid-six figures.

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  • MLB’s plans in place to battle declines, heat

    Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

    Despite the searing Arizona heat that will push nearly all All-Star Game activities indoors, MLB is aiming to reverse some of the more sluggish event returns seen last year in Anaheim.

    After strong performances in San Francisco (2007), New York (2008), and St. Louis (2009), last year’s events showed some decline. The Home Run Derby failed to sell out, even after last-minute ticket price discounts, and posted a 22 percent drop in TV ratings on ESPN. Tie-ins to the nearby Los Angeles entertainment community did not meet initial expectations. The All-Star Game itself posted an all-time low TV rating. And FanFest attendance in Anaheim of 118,429, while boosted by improved per-cap merchandise sales, still declined 21 percent from record-setting totals in St. Louis the year before.

    Boosted by an early start this year to ticket sales, aggressive pricing discounts as much as 59 percent, and a tight downtown Phoenix footprint that places nearly every event within walking distance, league and Arizona Diamondbacks officials are eyeing a recharge to not only the event itself but also the entire Phoenix region.

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    Chase Field will be the focal point for
    All-Star activities in downtown Phoenix.
    “This is going to be a massive boost not only for us, our fans and baseball, but this whole area,” said Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall. The Arizona economy was among the hardest hit in the global economic decline of 2008-09, and recovery there remains unsteady.

    “This is something we’ve been very actively pursuing for many years, and will be a major showcase for us,” Hall said.
    This year’s All-Star Game will be held July 12 at the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field.

    Beyond the usual sellout for the All-Star Game itself, more than 44,000 tickets have been sold thus far for the Home Run Derby, and more than 100,000 thus far for FanFest at the Phoenix Convention Center. With a capacity of 47,000 for the All-Star Game events, Chase Field represents the second-largest facility to host the events in the last decade behind Yankee Stadium in 2008.

    The clear subtext of the event this year will be to beat the heat, or at least manage it, in any way possible. Peak summertime temperatures in Phoenix routinely exceed 110 degrees. Among the corrective measures planned are the distribution of thousands of free bottles of water in downtown Phoenix from league sponsor Pepsi’s Aquafina brand, frequent misting stations and emergency personnel stationed throughout the downtown area.

    The one-third-of-a-mile loop for the midday July 11 All-Star Parade is much shorter than in recent years, though similar to routes used in Pittsburgh (2006) and Detroit (2005). A charity 5K run held last year in Anaheim was also not revived for Phoenix.

    “It is doubtful that if this all were to be held in February, the physical layout of the events would have been any different,” said Marla Miller, MLB senior vice president of special events. “But the footprint and the compactness of it in downtown Phoenix does really lend itself well to managing the heat. And this is a market very sophisticated and experienced in hosting big events.”

    Recent major sporting events in Greater Phoenix include the 2011 BCS title game, the 2009 NBA All-Star Game and Super Bowl XLII in 2008.

    MLB again will donate about $5 million to local and national causes as a result of the All-Star Game, right in line with prior years. But the charity element may be less prominent this year. A high-profile partnership with People Magazine called “All-Stars Among Us” to recognize ordinary citizens doing great things in their local communities was not revived after a successful two-year run. Also, an attempt to create a new All-Star dance party in partnership with “Glee” choreographer Zach Woodlee to benefit several cancer research charities was recently canceled amid disappointing ticket sales.

    The Diamondbacks and MLB are also seeking to develop what would likely be an emotional pregame/first-pitch ceremony for the All-Star Game itself involving survivors and family members of the tragic January shootings in Tucson, Ariz.

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  • Ticket sales down but sponsorships up for Women’s World Cup in Germany

    Ticket sales for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany will fall short of sales from the 2007 edition in China, but the event is poised to surpass the previous World Cup in sponsorship revenue.

    As of late last week, the event had sold 670,000 of the available 890,000 tickets, far short of the 1.2 million tickets sold in 2007. According to FIFA, host nation Germany had accounted for 90 percent of ticket sales. The United States’ three group-stage matches, against South Korea, Colombia and Sweden, had all sold out.

    The tournament was scheduled to begin Sunday and run through July 17 in nine cities.

    FIFA officials said that partnership sales for the event are above 2007 numbers. FIFA announced in March 2010 it had sold all six national sponsorship packages for the tournament, with Allianz, Commerzbank, national rail line Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Post, retail and tourism group Rewe, and Deutsche Telkom buying the top-tier sponsorships for the event. The partnerships are valued at $5 million apiece. FIFA global marketing partners Coca-Cola, Emirates, Hyundai/Kia, Sony and Visa also have advertising rights at the tournament.

    “The sales for this category have been an unprecedented success,” said Thierry Weil, FIFA’s marketing director. “[Sponsorship revenue] comprehensively surpasses the [sponsorship] revenue for China.” FIFA officials declined to discuss the event’s total sponsorship revenue.

    MATCH Services, which handles corporate ticket and luxury suite sales for the men’s World Cup, has sold 28,000 commercial hospitality packages for the tournament, priced in four packages from $280 to $1,350 a seat. About 140,000 commercial packages were sold for the 2010 men’s World Cup in South Africa. Pascal Portes, COO of MATCH Services, said buyers from Germany and other Northern European nations have dominated sales for high-end tickets.

    “The number of [clients] coming from the United States is quite limited compared to South Africa,” Portes said. “I would say above 90 percent [of sales] has been generated in Germany.”

    ESPN will carry all 32 matches of the tournament live, as it did in for the 2007 Women’s World Cup. It is splitting the coverage between ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. The network also will stream 26 matches to mobile devices through the free WatchESPN application, which is available to customers who use Verizon, Time Warner or Brighthouse digital services.

    Eric Johnson, ESPN executive vice president of multimedia sales, said the six-hour time difference between Germany and the U.S. East Coast should generate greater audiences compared with 2007. The majority of the 2011 games will air between 8:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET. Beijing is 12 hours ahead of New York City, and in 2007, live games aired at 4:55 and 7:55 a.m. “It will allow us to broadcast day games at a much better hour,” Johnson said.

    Johnson said advertising sales are pacing ahead of the 2007 tournament, although he declined to discuss revenue numbers. He said the network has created new inventory with its online broadcasts.

    As it did in South Africa, ESPN will feature pregame, postgame and halftime shows live from the host nation, and 28 of the 32 matches will see ESPN commentators reporting on-site.

    “Like we did in 2010, we want every match to feel like an event,” Johnson said.


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