SBJ/November 7-13, 2011/Facilities

Tech category could produce multiple sponsors for 49ers

Don Muret
The San Francisco 49ers’ stadium project provides a golden opportunity for the team to sign deals with several Bay Area high-tech firms that do not have a big presence in sports.

The 49ers have yet to announce a naming-rights deal or founding partners for their billion-dollar stadium planned for Santa Clara. One sports analyst says it’s possible for the club to sign multiple deals in the technology category alone, including a name for the 68,500-seat building.

A cutaway rendering shows the 49ers’ planned stadium, which will be packed with tech.
Image: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
“I could see five-plus deals in technology with each one valued at seven figures annually in that stadium,” said A.J. Maestas, president and founder of Navigate, a sports research firm whose NFL clients include the St. Louis Rams.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, the stadium’s technology partners could be separated by consumer electronics (Sony, LG, Samsung), professional technology services (IBM, Microsoft, Accenture), business-to-business hardware (Cisco, HP), consumer hardware (Dell, HP, Apple), consumer software (Facebook, Apple) and business software (Oracle, Sun Microsystems, SAS), Maestas said.

The team would not comment on how the tech category might be divided up.

For some tech firms that don’t use sports as a primary marketing tool, such as Oracle’s Sun Microsystems, the 49ers’ stadium could be the right vehicle to connect their brand with consumers who may know a small portion of what they do as a business, he said.

49ers President and CEO Jed York has said publicly the stadium will be a showcase for new technology.

“There is reason to believe it could become a living lab for something unprecedented and special,” Maestas said.

The opening is targeted for 2015, though reports last week suggested that the date could be pushed up to 2014.

LEGENDARY HIRE: Legends Hospitality has hired food service sales veteran Mike Tully to spearhead its business development efforts, according to Dan Smith, Legends’ chief operating officer.

In the past 20 years, Tully has held similar jobs with Aramark, Delaware North Sportservice and the old Ogden Entertainment. Most recently, Tully was employed with Patina Restaurant Group, a caterer for pro golf and tennis events.

For Legends, Tully’s focus is to expand the firm’s big league profile. On the food side, Legends, a joint venture formed in 2008 by the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and two private equity firms, has signed six minor league baseball teams.

Outside of Cowboys Stadium and Yankee Stadium, where Legends runs food and retail, the concessionaire has not landed a deal at the highest level of sports.

“We need to develop leads and cultivate relationships, all things other companies are doing,” Smith said. “We have grown but we could be more successful. We need a well-honed pitch to be in position to respond to RFPs. To date, we haven’t done a lot of that.”

As of last week, the terms of Tully’s contract and his exact job title were still in negotiation, Smith said. Tully has been a Legends consultant since September.

CROWD NOISE: Officials with Crowd Seats, a daily deals site for sports tickets, hope a deal they did to sell discount tickets for Saturday’s Rutgers-Army college football game at Yankee Stadium leads to greater opportunities with Major League Baseball in 2012.

Crowd Seats’ deal with the New York Yankees was tied to a two-day sale last week to buy vouchers good for $35 end-zone tickets for the game. The offer included a $10 gift certificate toward a future purchase on CrowdSeats.com. Face value for those 150 seats was $50.

The goal is to develop a long-term partnership with the Yankees and other MLB teams, said Ken Troupe, senior adviser to Crowd Seats founder Justin Cener.

Troupe, former senior director of ticket sales for the Texas Rangers, said he plans to meet with officials from MLB Advanced Media during MLB’s winter meetings Dec. 5-8 in Dallas.
 
“We need to get BAM’s blessing to work with all the teams,” Troupe said.

Crowd Seats launched in New York as its second market after starting its business earlier this year in Los Angeles.

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