SBJ/January 30-February 5, 2012/Super Bowl

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  • NFL labor deal paying off

    For years leading up to last year’s labor standoff between the NFL and its players, the league insisted that without economic and structural changes, the sport might regress.

    So how have the league, teams and players fared financially after the first season of the 10-year labor agreement?

    Clearly in a cash-rich league, all have done fine, but the teams have especially and are well-positioned to improve their bottom lines as revenues balloon. The decline in team profit margins into the low single-digit percentages under the old collective-bargaining agreement, which the league complained crimped investments, is now reversing, experts and sources said.

    Perhaps the best evidence of this is the San Francisco 49ers’ proceeding on a new $1 billion-plus stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., with banks signing up last month to lend $850 million to the project. Investments have also been flowing into teams, with the sale of the Jacksonville Jaguars for roughly $760 milllion, a $200 million equity sale of the Cincinnati Bengals, and a host of smaller limited partnerships in teams ranging from the 49ers to the Atlanta Falcons.

    “I don’t know if owners would refer to the issues as being resolved, but there is more of a comfort level and less hesitancy,” said Andrew Brandt, a former Green Bay Packers executive, current president of the National Football Post, and a sports business professor at the Wharton School.

    How they slice it

    Under the old contract, players received as much as 54 percent of revenue, and by the last year of the deal with a salary cap, 51 percent. Under the new contract, players will most likely get less than 46 percent of the league’s revenue, though precise numbers are not available. The players were told before signing the CBA in August that they would get 47 percent of revenue, but those are revenues as defined in the CBA and do not include everything.

    Players could benefit as team owners, comfortable with higher profit margins, invest in ventures that could drive revenue far higher.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    The CBA stipulates that players get 47 percent of what is defined as “All Revenues,” but there are a host of revenues not included in “All Revenues.” Descriptions of those revenues stretch over several pages in the CBA and include, for example, some permanent seat licenses, revenue from Dallas Cowboys merchandise wholesaling, and complimentary tickets. How much of the league’s projected $9.4 billion in revenue for 2011 is “non-All Revenues” is unclear.

    In addition to those exceptions, the league can take expense deductions of at least 1.5 percent for stadiums, and credits for NFL Venture investments, meaning the net percentage players will receive is likely at least below an average of 46 percent. In other words, players will get 47 percent of revenues that have “non-All Revenues” shaved from the pie. And then the league can reduce the 47 percent figure for stadium and NFL Venture costs.

    Under the last capped year of the previous labor deal, the players would have received $4.79 billion of the $9.4 billion of the revenue the league said it generated in 2011, as they were entitled to 51 percent of revenue. Conservatively presuming a 5 percent change to 46 percent, players would get around $4.32 billion under terms of the new, decade-long CBA, which would be a $470 million difference.

    Some media reports in December, following the league’s announcement of new TV contracts that start in 2014, stated that the players had struck a windfall because they receive 55 percent of that money. In the end, however, no matter how much TV cash comes in, the players are capped at no more than 48.5 percent of “All Revenues” in any single year, and that is again before expense and revenue reductions.

    Also, while it initially appeared as if the teams would need to spend a lot more cash than under the older deal, that’s not entirely the case. Under the old system, teams by the last year with a salary ceiling had to spend a minimum of 88 percent of that cap, Brandt said, though not all of that was cash. Teams could pay bonuses at the beginning of a contract, but amortize the value over the life of that deal. So if a player received a $10 million bonus over a five-year deal, the team could count $2 million toward the cap each year even if it was all paid in year one. Getting teams to spend more hard cash to meet cap obligations was a big agenda item for the players, and they got partly there.

    In the first two years of the new deal, there is no minimum spending per club, while the league must average 99 percent of the cap, a number that was met in 2011 with the aid of bonus money, one team source said.

    “Right now teams get a free ride this year and next year,” Brandt said.

    From 2013 to 2016, teams must each average 89 percent cash spend to the cap, and the league overall 95 percent. For players, that is an improvement from the old deal because teams can no longer count amortized bonus money toward the cap. However, the percent requirement is an average of the four years and not required in any one season. A new four-year cycle with the same figures kicks in with 2017.

    It was not all good news for the teams this season. While profit margins did improve, they did not rise as much as might be expected because of the large amounts of bonus money rookie contracts now consume, said one team source.

    Because the new CBA significantly reduced rookie pay from the old deal, agents insisted on a far greater percentage of
    Restrictions on rookie pay are an effort to prevent huge sums going to unproven players.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    the compensation being paid in signing bonuses, said this source. That means a lot of the compensation is front-loaded in year one. While that will keep the lid on margins somewhat this year, ultimately, this source said, the owners will see a significant return.

    Owners also have to be happy with the significant restrictions on rookie pay. In addition to a major reduction on money paid to rookies, an effort by owners to prevent huge sums going to busts, the CBA disallows renegotiating contracts of rookies taken in the first two rounds until the end of the third year of their four-year contracts (teams have the option for a fifth year). And unlike the old CBA, teams can not put performance escalators into contracts for rookies drafted in the first two rounds. Performance bonuses are limited to how many plays that the players are on the field, thresholds defined in the CBA.

    The flow of local dollars

    Where the teams may be happiest — beyond the extra cash and easier-to-manage rookie system — is the reduced revenue disparity, an issue that had bitterly divided owners.

    In the old system, the players shared every dollar equally. So if, for example, a new naming-rights deal went into the pool of money shared with players, each team, not just the beneficiary, saw its labor bill rise.

    That does not change under the new system, but the effect is less severe. Now only 40 percent of local dollars are shared with the players. Say, for example, one team had $250 million of local revenue. Under the old system, by and large, 51 percent of that, or about $130 million, would have been shared with the players, causing about a $4 million bump per club in player costs.

    Under the new system, $100 million of that is shared, or a $3.1 million bump per club. While supplemental revenue sharing is still necessary, the league expects that by the end of the deal, it will be required only in a handful of cases.
    “By the time they get to the middle of the CBA term, the major issues they were dealing with should have been put to bed for the most part,” said Marc Ganis, a sports consultant with close ties to the NFL.

    For the players, while they gave up some economically, they won significant concessions in player safety and a reduction in offseason commitments. And while rookies may not be happy with the new system, especially as it ties them to their clubs for as many as five years, some of that savings is flowing to veterans.

    The NFL’s perspective is that the players do not lose economically because owners, comfortable with higher profit margins, will invest in businesses such as new stadiums and other ventures, like concession companies, that drive revenue far higher than would have occurred previously. So the contention is that players may be getting a smaller slice of the pie, but the pie will become much bigger.

    “I don’t think players are unhappy right now, but when they see the way the business front offices are unleashed, they will” be very happy, said a team source.

    The league’s biggest challenge for now is generating as much extra revenue as it predicted it could achieve if this type of CBA were approved.

    While media money will surge in 2014 when the new TV deals arrive, with CBS, NBC and Fox paying $1 billion annually, the league must find new sources of cash. That could come from digital, technology, new stadiums, or perhaps categories that do not exist today.

    Within months of the NFL reaching an agreement on the new labor deal, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver (left) had struck a deal to sell his team to Shahid Khan.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    Commissioner Roger Goodell two years ago challenged owners to hit $25 billion annually in revenue by 2027, just six years after the end of the current CBA deal. Even adding the extra media money coming in from the networks and ESPN to 2011’s $9.4 billion total, that would get the league to only $12 billion annually.

    One area players will not share in is the rise in franchise values, an issue the union pushed before the lockout.
    The sale of the Jaguars likely set a floor on franchise values, said Rob Tilliss, founder of sports finance advisory firm Inner Circle Sports.

    Jaguars ex-owner Wayne Weaver had for years tried to sell the team, though never getting the price he wanted. Then, within 3 1/2 months of the new CBA getting struck, he announced the sale of the team to Shahid Khan.

    “Seven hundred and sixty million dollars is probably the new floor,” Tilliss said. “Getting more on the revenue and less costs is always helpful.”

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  • On the league's agenda

    Last year entering the Super Bowl, the NFL was confronting labor strife and media contracts that needed renewing. Both are now in the rearview mirror. This year the issues are a bit less weighty, but the league, while hitting on most cylinders, still has its share of challenges. Here is a brief look at 10 of them.

    ■ Los Angeles
    The NFL is looking at two stadium sites in the Los Angeles area, one championed by developer Ed Roski and the other a downtown venue by AEG, neither of which has met the league’s satisfaction. If one eventually does, the next question would then be what team, or teams, plays there. The NFL has not played in Los Angeles since 1994.

    ■ HGH
    The new collective-bargaining agreement calls for HGH testing, but left the details to be worked out. As they say, the devil is in the details. The NFLPA has rejected testing, even though the World Anti-Doping Agency has approved the system the NFL wishes to use. Will Congress step in?

    ■ NFLPA leadership
    DeMaurice Smith’s three-year term as NFLPA executive director expires in mid-March. Most presume he will be running again; the only question is whether he will have any opponents.

    ■ Attendance

    Teams are increasingly challenged to find ways to avoid attendance dips.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    With the rise of better in-home entertainment equipment, luring fans out of their cushy lairs has become more difficult for the NFL, and it doesn’t look to get easier. Ticket prices, packages and offerings to fans will all be something to watch.

    ■ Mobile
    The NFL did not sell streaming mobile rights as part of its new round of TV deals. Verizon holds those rights through 2014, but the league will likely explore how to better monetize watching games on phones.

    ■ NFL Network
    The league said it would expand from eight the number of NFL games shown on its own network. But will that be enough to increase distribution of the channel, still not on Time Warner or Cablevision systems?

    ■ Concussion litigation
    There are 16 separate lawsuits brought by former players, all filed since the middle of last year, against the NFL for concussions suffered during their playing days. The NFL argues it is covered by the CBAs during those years, but if the courts allow the cases to move forward, they could be a financial liability for the sport.

    Stadium issues
    The San Diego Chargers are among teams still looking for stadium deals.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    It appears the San Francisco 49ers will be moving to Santa Clara for a largely privately funded stadium. But the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders all have pressing stadium issues still unresolved.

    ■ Expanded season

    The league has the option to make another run at persuading the players to add an extra game or two to the regular season. Will it do so, and are the host of player safety measures the league has instituted recently part of the plan to make a case for more games?

    ■ Workers’ compensation
    The one issue the players and league could not resolve in the CBA last year is now winding its way though at least four courts. The players want the right to file claims wherever they choose, while the NFL largely wants the players to have to file in the state of their team.

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  • ESPN warms to moving its coverage indoors

    If ESPN’s Seth Markman learned one thing from last year’s surprisingly frigid Super Bowl week in Texas — when an ice storm paralyzed Arlington and weeklong temperatures were stuck below freezing — it’s that he doesn’t want to see his host’s breath on camera anymore.

    “I told everybody that our goal from the first day was that we don’t want to see their breath,” said Markman, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer who oversees all of ESPN’s NFL studio shows. “Let’s put them inside. Let’s make them warm. … We spent more money to do this. But I think it’s going to look really cool on television.”

    Much of ESPN’s coverage from Indy will originate from a heated set on Pan American Plaza.
    Photo by: ESPN
    The result is a cold-weather strategy that has seen ESPN build a heated set on Indianapolis’ Pan American Plaza.
    Markman would not say how much extra ESPN is spending on its set, which will look out over Lucas Oil Stadium and will resemble the “Today” show set — glass enclosed and heated. The crowd outside can watch and listen to the shows via JumboTrons placed in the plaza.

    “I don’t think the viewers enjoy, necessarily, those guys sitting out there all bundled up with their breath coming through and their lips frozen,” Markman said. “We’re just trying to do the best shows possible with the best information and analysis.”

    SUPER BOWL ADVERTISERS
    ADVERTISER LENGTH
    (SECONDS)
    1ST QUARTER
    Mars (M&Ms) 30
    Hyundai 30
    2ND QUARTER
    Skechers (Gorun shoes) 30
    H&M (David Beckham line) 30
    Bridgestone 30
    3RD QUARTER
    Cars.com 30
    Century 21 30
    Dannon Yogurt 30
    Volkswagen (Beetle) 60
    Bridgestone 30
    4TH QUARTER
    Honda (CR-V compact crossover) 60
    Relativity Media ("Act of Valor") 30
    2nd Story Software (TaxACT program) 30
    Hyundai 30
    PLACEMENT TO BE DETERMINED
    A-B InBev 4 min., 30 sec.
    Acura --
    Audi 60
    BestBuy 30
    CareerBuilder.com 30
    Chrysler 60
    Coca-Cola --
    E*Trade 30
    GM Five spots
    GoDaddy.com 30
    GoDaddy.com 30
    History Channel ("Swamp People") 30
    Kia (Optima Limited) 60
    Lexus 30
    Paramount Pictures --
    PepsiCo (Doritos) 30
    PepsiCo (Doritos) 30
    PepsiCo (Pepsi Max) --
    PepsiCo (Pepsi/X Factor winner) 30
    Samsung --
    Teleflora 30
    Toyota (Camry) 30
    Universal Pictures --
    Walt Disney Pictures --

    Note: Chart is intended to reflect only spots set to air during the actual game. Pregame, halftime and postgame spots are not included.
    Source: Media reports, news releases, SportsBusiness Daily research

    NBC holds the rights to the game, and plans to produce several shows from Indianapolis, including NBC Sports Network’s “NBC SportsTalk Live” and NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” all this week. NBC also plans to produce the “Today” show from Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday, plus programs from The Weather Channel, Telemundo and Golf Channel. One of NBC’s biggest initiatives will be a live, two-hour, town-hall-style “Costas Tonight,” which will be carried by NBC Sports Network on Thursday night.

    ESPN does not hold rights to the Super Bowl, or any NFL playoff game, for that matter. But ESPN will have, by far, the biggest programming presence in Indianapolis with 110 live hours of programming for its television and radio stations from the host city.

    Last year, ESPN expected warmer weather in North Texas and constructed outdoor sets. As a result, it had to scramble and move some of its shows, like “SportsNation” and “Mike and Mike,” to different locations.

    “We should be worrying about doing television and content,” Markman said. “We spent too much time last year focused on logistics, weather, how we’re getting where we’re getting. To be honest with you, nobody at home really cares about that.”

    ESPN typically starts scouting locations for its Super Bowl sets about 18 months before the game. Markman already has been active in New Orleans and plans to start scouting locations in New York by the fall.

    In New York, Markman expects to find a spot in Manhattan, or at least a place with a view of the skyline. ESPN also will have a set at the stadium. “That’s a totally different scenario than we’re used to doing,” Markman said. “Now, we’re talking about a cold weather city and a cold weather stadium. We’ve never had that.”

    From its set in Pan Am Plaza, ESPN is planning a series of Super Bowl-themed specials to run in the 3-4 p.m. time slot.
    On Monday and Tuesday this week, it will feature “The Insiders” with NFL reporters Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter and John Clayton. On Wednesday at 3 p.m., Mike Tirico is hosting a one-hour show dedicated to safety in the NFL.

    “The one tricky part about the Super Bowl is that there’s 30 fan bases that aren’t overly interested in the results of the Super Bowl,” Markman said. “We’re always careful to make sure we’re still covering the entire league and not just spending all of these hours talking about two teams all week.”

    On Thursday, ESPN will have “Monday Night Football’s” look ahead to the Super Bowl with Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski. And on Friday, it will produce a “champions” show, featuring all analysts who have won a Super Bowl ring on set.

    ESPN will have a four-hour “Sunday Countdown” on Super Bowl Sunday, but it has to end by 2 p.m. because that’s when the Super Bowl broadcaster’s window of exclusivity starts.

    SUPER BOWL RATINGS/VIEWERSHIP TRENDS
    YEAR SUPERBOWL NETWORK RATING VIEWERS (000S) MATCHUP
    2011 XLV Fox 46.0 111,010 Packers-Steelers
    2010 XLIV CBS 45.0 106,476 Saints-Colts
    2009 XLIII NBC 42.0 98,732 Steelers-Cardinals
    2008 XLII Fox 43.1 97,448 Giants-Patriots
    2007 XLI CBS 42.6 93,184 Colts-Bears
    2006 XL ABC 41.6 90,745 Steelers-Seahawks
    2005 XXXIX Fox 41.1 86,072 Patriots-Eagles
    2004 XXXVIII CBS 41.4 89,795 Patriots-Panthers
    2003 XXXVII ABC 40.7 88,637 Buccaneers-Raiders
    2002 XXXVI Fox 40.4 86,801 Patriots-Rams
    2001 XXXV CBS 40.4 84,335 Ravens-Giants
    2000 XXXIV ABC 43.3 88,465 Rams-Titans
    1999 XXXIII Fox 40.2 83,720 Broncos-Falcons
    1998 XXXII NBC 44.5 90,000 Broncos-Packers
    1997 XXXI Fox 43.3 87,870 Packers-Patriots
    1996 XXX NBC 46.0 94,080 Cowboys-Steelers
    1995 XXIX ABC 41.3 83,420 49ers-Chargers
    1994 XXVIII NBC 45.5 90,000 Cowboys-Bills
    1993 XXVII NBC 45.1 90,990 Cowboys-Bills
    1992 XXVI CBS 40.3 79,590 Redskins-Bills
    1991 XXV ABC 41.9 79,510 Giants-Bills
    1990 XXIV CBS 39.0 73,852 49ers-Broncos
    1989 XXIII NBC 43.5 81,590 49ers-Bengals
    1988 XXII ABC 41.9 80,140 Redskins-Broncos
    1987 XXI CBS 45.8 87,190 Giants-Broncos
    1986 XX NBC 48.3 92,570 Bears-Patriots
    1985 XIX ABC 46.4 85,530 49ers-Dolphins
    1984 XVIII CBS 46.4 77,620 Raiders-Redskins
    1983 XVII NBC 48.6 81,770 Redskins-Dolphins
    1982 XVI CBS 49.1 85,240 49ers-Bengals
    1981 XV NBC 44.4 68,290 Raiders-Eagles
    1980 XIV CBS 46.3 76,240 Steelers-Rams
    1979 XIII NBC 47.1 74,740 Steelers-Cowboys
    1978 XII CBS 47.2 78,940 Cowboys-Broncos
    1977 XI NBC 44.4 62,050 Raiders-Vikings
    1976 X CBS 42.3 57,710 Steelers-Cowboys
    1975 IX NBC 42.4 56,050 Steelers-Vikings
    1974 VIII CBS 41.6 51,700 Dolphins-Vikings
    1973 VII NBC 42.7 53,320 Dolphins-Redskins
    1972 VI CBS 44.2 56,640 Cowboys-Dolphins
    1971 V NBC 39.9 46,040 Colts-Cowboys
    1970 IV CBS 39.4 44,270 Chiefs-Vikings
    1969 III NBC 36.0 41,660 Jets-Colts
    1968 II CBS 36.8 39,120 Packers-Raiders
    1967 I CBS 22.6 26,750 Packers-Chiefs
    1967 I NBC 18.5 24,430 Packers-Chiefs

    Note: Super Bowl I was simulcast       Source: Nielsen

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  • ‘Fans First’ as event rolls into Indianapolis

    Welcome to the “Fans First” Super Bowl, the NFL’s makeup for troubles that plagued last year’s event in North Texas.

    The league’s official slogan for the big game this year underscores the seating fiasco and other problems during the 2011 Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium. About 1,250 temporary seats were ruled unsafe, forcing hundreds of Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers fans to watch the game from standing-room locations.

    Moving forward, the Fans First theme reflects the NFL’s effort to improve and upgrade the Super Bowl experience at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, a city accustomed to playing host to big events such as the NCAA Final Four and Big Ten championships in football and basketball.

    The NFL wants to upgrade the Super Bowl experience at Lucas Oil Stadium.
    Photo by: Getty Images
    The timing could not have been better for the NFL to regroup in downtown Indy after coming out of North Texas
    where Super Bowl activities were scattered around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and a snowstorm compounded the difficulty getting to and from events.

    In the winter climate at Indianapolis, most hotels, bars and restaurants supporting the Super Bowl are within walking distance of the stadium. As for the facility itself, sports architect HKS designed Lucas Oil Stadium as a multipurpose venue for the Indianapolis Colts, Final Four and city conventions. The stadium has 45,000 square feet of backstage exhibit space, the most of any NFL facility, according to city officials, with ample room to install temporary structures such as the Anheuser-Busch brewpub built for NFL On Location premium ticket holders.

    The Indiana Convention Center connected to the stadium is another key piece of Super Bowl programming. The convention center has grown to 566,600 square feet after a $275 million expansion was completed in 2011. As a result, all official Super Bowl activities, including the NFL Experience and the NFL Tailgate Party, will flow through those two venues, providing the convenience for fans, sponsors and media sorely missing from last year’s event.

    The Super Bowl Village outside Lucas Oil Stadium, organized by the local host committee, is the only outdoor event. The attraction features a zip line ride among its interactive features.

    By comparison, the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit, the last time the championship game was held in a cold-weather city, the NFL Experience was at Cobo Hall, about one mile southwest of Ford Field where the game was played. The NFL Tailgate Party was held in a tented complex outdoors, and other Super Bowl parties were at Comerica Park, the Tigers’ ballpark across the street from Ford Field. The NFL had three concessionaires to deal with for that Super Bowl week: Levy Restaurants (Lions), Delaware North Sportservice (Tigers) and Aramark (Cobo Hall).

    In Indy, Centerplate serves both the stadium and the convention center. In all aspects of Super Bowl preparations, Indianapolis “is the most compact floor plan for Super Bowl we have ever had,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events.

    Inside Lucas Oil Stadium, the number of temporary seats installed for the Super Bowl includes a 254-seat section erected
    This rendering shows the Super Bowl Village, an outdoor attraction that will include a zip line among its interactive features.
    Photo by: Indianapolis Host Committee
    on the main concourse where 60 percent of all ticket holders will enter the stadium, said Jerry Anderson, a senior principal with Populous working his 27th Super Bowl as the NFL’s chief consultant. Those end zone seats at the top of the lower bowl are themed as the City View Club, part of the On Location all-inclusive ticket package. The temporary club is a smaller version of the South Oasis club at the 2008 Super Bowl in Arizona. Another 5,000 spaces will be carved out with padded chairs on platforms and additional standing-room tickets sold in the suites. Total capacity for Super Bowl will be in the range of 68,000.

    SGA Productions is providing the On Location seats for this year’s game, confirmed Mike Fox, stadium director for Lucas Oil Stadium. Last year’s vendor for temporary seating at Cowboys Stadium was Seating Solutions. One group of fans that suffered through a nightmarish game-day experience in Dallas filed a class-action lawsuit against the league.

    The Fans First initiative at Indianapolis also is stamped through the NFL’s decision to hire the Disney Institute to educate game-day workers on maximizing the guest experience and an expansion of in-stadium text systems with three new features for the Super Bowl. The first one, for ticket holder communications, has a QR code on the ticket to register for important text messages during Super Bowl week. It is not a two-way system, so ticket holders cannot text back, Supovitz said.

    In addition, there are separate inbound and outbound text systems for Super Bowl staff to use to report issues and emergencies. The fan conduct texting system used during the regular season at Lucas Oil Stadium will be activated for the Super Bowl, Supovitz said.

    One new wrinkle for this year’s Super Bowl is the annual Media Day circus that is now open to the public. The league put 7,000 tickets on sale for $25 apiece, and the event was near a sellout less than two weeks before the game, Supovitz said. The doors open at 9 a.m. for a 10 a.m. start and ticket holders will be subject to most of the same screening procedures activated for Super Bowl Sunday. They will be confined to the east stands in the lower bowl and will use radios with headphones tuned to the seven podiums for player interviews on the field.

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  • Miles: Why Indy is ready for the spotlight

    Mark Miles for 15 years was the first CEO of the modern ATP, leaving in 2006 to head up the nonprofit Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, a regional coalition of CEOs of Central Indiana employers and leaders of universities. In 2008, he became chairman of the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, meaning he will have been in charge of perhaps

    the two most important events Indianapolis has ever hosted: the 1987 Pan American Games, and Sunday’s Super Bowl. SportsBusiness Journal’s Daniel Kaplan caught up with the always friendly Miles (nicknamed Mr. Sunshine by the German tennis press during his tennis days). Some of his answers may surprise, like which event he has run that had more than four times the number of volunteers than the Super Bowl, and his thoughts about snow this week.

    What distinguishes this Super Bowl from others?
    Miles
    Photo by: Rob Banayote
    MILES:
    As a general matter, they were spread out. Indianapolis has been designed over the last three decades so many of the venues and hotel rooms are right downtown. … We saw this convenient infrastructure as a way of creating a compact village-like ambience that will create a more fun atmosphere than any other Super Bowl city has offered, inspite of the weather. The weather is obviously a challenge, but people can have fun in the cold.
    We will make it a winter Super Bowl festival, the epicenter of which is the Super Bowl village. The city and state put $13 million into making a three-block-long street, which is right in the heart of all of this.

    Why will the village have zip lines?
    MILES: For fun. We will have four zip lines, which usually take riders over dams and gorges. You attach yourself to a harness and then you go and just fly down this line until it comes to the end. It’s an amusement park-like ride. Each ride is 800 feet long.

    What skills from the ATP helped you here?

    MILES: Fifteen years at the ATP sharpens one’s problem solving skills. … Frankly, in many respects, my experience at the Pan American Games is probably more relevant. It is a big event. It is the same event as the Summer Olympics except even more sports and competitions to medal, but limited to the Olympic committee of the Western Hemisphere. In 1987, we had 36,000 volunteers to staff for that; for this we have 8,000.

    Did the lockout affect planning?
    MILES: We always believed we might have a truncated season but they would find a way to have the Super Bowl. … But had we not raised the money early (first part of 2008), it would have been a different story. … That inoculated us from the labor issue, and the economic issues.

    Talk about what happens with horrific weather.
    MILES: In terms of weather, we really don’t want to sound foolhardy, but we are not very concerned about the weather. We have stockpiled equipment and salt that a Northern city normally has to deal with snow. My worry is more rain. Rain does not create a situation where you can’t get people around or have the game, but it could put a damper on the outdoor village experiences. People have fun in the snow. Snow in the village we hope happens. Rain for an outdoor experience is more of a downer. Ice is the worst.

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  • Brands expand to fill some downtown spaces

    NFL sponsors are set to roll out their Super Bowl activation in downtown Indianapolis by taking over hotels, increasing support of Media Day and even offering tickets to Radio Row.

    Budweiser is taking over a local hotel and rechristening it as the Bud Light Hotel, while what normally serves as the downtown Hampton Inn will host the parties for both EA and Playboy as well as a number of concerts.

    Verizon (above) is among the NFL sponsors with a concourse at Lucas Oil Stadium.
    Photo by: NFL
    Pepsi is offering fans a chance to win Pepsi Max for Life at the NFL Experience fan fest, along with providing sampling opportunities and a football-themed obstacle course. There are also three nights of performances scheduled in Pepsi’s Fan Jam concert series.

    In Lucas Oil Stadium, the NFL sold some of its corporate sponsors incremental sponsorships that will allow them to brand entire concourses. Mars’ Snickers brand, along with Verizon, Pepsi and Castrol, will have expanded stadium branding. For Castrol, that’s no small feat — considering that a competitor has naming rights to the building.

    In the stadium bowl, those four brands will receive static and rotational signage along with scoreboard mentions, said Tracy Perlman, the NFL’s vice president of entertainment marketing and promotions.

    Pepsi and Doritos (left) will double-team Indianapolis visitors.
    Photo by: NFL
    Elsewhere, there are the usual sponsor bus wraps and outdoor signage. Gatorade has expanded its sponsorship of Media Day to include backdrop branding for the Sunday postgame interviews. The Media Center, headquarters for about 5,000 credentialed journalists, is title-sponsored by Motorola, with Gatorade and Procter & Gamble brands also supporting.

    Both Media Day and the Media Center are ticketed events for the public for the first time this year. StubHub had Media Day tickets listed for between $29 and $45 last week, and at least one website was attempting to sell suite tickets for Media Day at $750 apiece.

    Within the Media Center, free tickets are being offered for up to 500 fans at a time to view from a visitors gallery at the NFL Network set and Radio Row.

    General Motors is presenting the Super Bowl MVP with a Chevy Corvette Centennial Edition on the field after the game. Motorola, pushing its Droid Razr Maxx phone, is reprising its OCNN (Ochocinco News Network) with Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy posing as journalists, since Ochocinco is at the game as a member of the Patriots. The winner of a Facebook promotion is assisting the OCNN crew. A tie-in with the local ESPN radio affiliate features daily Razr giveaways.

    Van Heusen is leveraging its Institute of Style spokespeople — Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders — with ties created for each that will be part of a range of promotional giveaways, including tickets to EPSN’s Next party, of which it is a sponsor.

    Many NFL sponsors are supporting the inaugural “NFL Honors” awards show, with host Alec Baldwin, which will air on NBC from 9 to 11 p.m. ET Saturday. Top-tier sponsors include Pepsi, Castrol, Van Heusen and Disney, which is pushing two films: “The Avengers” and “John Carter,” one of which will get a 90-second trailer within the show. Integration will be evident throughout the show, which the league hopes to establish as an annual event.

    Also during the show, there will be numerous branded awards including the AP Coach of the Year presented by Xfinity, only from Comcast; and the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award presented by Prilosec OTC.

    Renie Anderson, NFL vice president of business development, said show sponsors will get on-stage branding and hospitality packages. Associate-level NFL corporate patrons sponsoring the show include USAA, Prilosec, Vicks, Bridgestone, Papa John’s and Comcast/Xfinity.

    Before the NBC broadcast, the NFL Network will air a red-carpet show sponsored by Vicks.

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  • For Ann Mara, a rare turn in the spotlight

    Ann Mara stepped out of the shadows and into the realm of Internet sensation earlier this month, good-naturedly scolding Fox personality Terry Bradshaw on air in the locker room after her New York Giants’ NFC championship win for never picking her team.

    Mara and Joan Tisch actually co-own the Giants, having inherited the club from their husbands, Wellington Mara and Robert Tisch, each of whom died in 2005. Their sons, John Mara and Steve Tisch, run the club and are frequently referred to as co-owners, but their titles are actually president and chairman, respectively.

    So, now that Mrs. Mara has had her turn in the spotlight, what about her fellow octogenarian, Mrs. Tisch?

    Steve Tisch laughed when asked that question last week. He said he ribbed his mother about it, going so far as to advise her on the best place to attack Al Michaels so that she too could get some attention.

    Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will handle the broadcast duties for Sunday’s game on NBC. Consider them fairly warned for any pregame predictions of Patriots over Giants.

    — Daniel Kaplan


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  • Want a shot at one of New York City’s toughest tables? It helps to be a New York Giant

    Three days after the New York Giants won their last Super Bowl matchup against the New England Patriots, quarterback Eli Manning and offensive lineman Shaun O’Hara found themselves singing “New York, New York” with Yogi Berra at a tiny Italian restaurant in East Harlem called Rao’s.

    Don’t be surprised if Eli is back there next week, win or lose. The connection between the Giants and, in the world of New York restaurants, the legendary Rao’s, which has 11 tables and doesn’t take reservations, is tight and flows through one man: head chef Dino Gatto.

    Dino Gatto, head chef at Rao’s, is “an amazingly loyal fan,” Giants co-owner Steve Tisch says.
    Photo by: WILLIAM HAUSER PHOTOGRAPY
    Gatto has credentials for on-field access at MetLife Stadium and travels with the team unless there is a Monday or Thursday game; Rao’s is closed on weekends. He often eats with the players at the training complex, he frequently cooks for the trainers, and he gets his Super Bowl tickets and hotel room through team co-owner Steve Tisch.

    And it’s not just the Giants. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a friend of Gatto’s.

    “I was walking down by Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco the Friday before [the NFC Championship game], and there was Roger walking with his wife and kids,” Gatto said. “And he came over and we started talking, for about 15 minutes.”

    Every team, of course, has its own unique characters and culture. For the Giants, Gatto is part of theirs.

    “We don’t have cheerleaders, we don’t have mascots — but we have Dino,” said Tisch, who estimates he dines at Rao’s twice a month. After the Giants’ win over the Falcons in the first round of the playoffs, Tisch stopped by Rao’s (pronounced “Ray-ohs”) and bought drinks for everyone there, Gatto said.

    Tisch frequently brings players, including former Giants and current Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress, with him to the restaurant. “Plax loves it,” Tisch said.

    Located on a desolate and dingy corner of East Harlem, Rao’s opened in 1896 and is best known for its meatballs and sauce. It’s been known at times for attracting a colorful crowd (finger flashes across nose) and today may be the hardest restaurant to get into in the city. Knowing someone, or knowing someone who knows someone, and so on, is the only way to get a table.

    A host of Giants players have eaten there, including Manning, Jake Ballard, Victor Cruz and Bear Pascoe. Giants players are hardly the only celebrities seeking a seat, either, with Madonna, as legend has it, famously having been turned away one night.

    Gatto tailgates outside MetLife Stadium before Giants home games, his spot steps away from the entrance. One game a year, he throws a massive tailgate with around 200 people. This season’s feast occurred before the Miami game in October, and attendees included Steve’s brother, Loews Hotel Chairman Jonathan Tisch; Chris Mara, senior vice president of player personnel for the team; former Giants running back Rodney Hampton; and former New York Knicks forward Anthony Mason.

    Gatto, 44, has been cooking since he was 15, starting at a deli owned by a friend of his father’s. “I wasn’t one for school books, so I went to culinary school,” he said. After several stints at New York restaurants, including at The Plaza, he landed at Rao’s 16 years ago.

    One of Rao’s customers was Kevin Corbett, a former Giants executive who handled new media for the team. They became friends, and Corbett introduced Gatto to Ronnie Barnes, the team’s vice president of medical services. One thing led to another, and 10 years ago, the team gave Gatto his own credential.

    “He is an amazingly loyal fan,” Tisch said. “He travels to every game, doesn’t matter how far or how difficult it is to get there. He is at every away game and every home game.”

    And he will certainly be at a game in Indianapolis on Sunday.

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  • For Engine Shop, Super Bowl parties provide a coming-out party

    The Super Bowl, an annual launch point for new campaigns and new commercials, will this week mark the launch of a new experiential marketing and consulting agency — Engine Shop.

    Formerly called the Miami Marketing Group, an event agency known for Super Bowl parties and other sports/celebrity events, Engine Shop will debut this week with new financial backing from DeBartolo Sports and Entertainment and other new partners.

    Among the clients at launch will be AT&T Adworks, DirecTV, ESPN, Fontainebleau Hotel, GMC, Johnson & Johnson, the Miami Dolphins and SoBe, as well as spirit brands Absolut and Wódka Vodka.

    In Indianapolis this week, Engine Shop will be staging ESPN’s Next party and DirecTV’s Celebrity Beach Bash.

    “The mix of sports, entertainment and celebrities is really a unique offering to corporate America,” said Ed Kiernan, a former GMR Marketing executive who is a partner in the new agency and will carry the title of president. “With the infusion of new partners and venture capital, we’ll be in a position to seek out new talent and to acquire other businesses that we can build into our structure.”

    The principals in Engine Shop include Brian Gordon, who will be the agency’s CEO; and Ryan Schinman, chairman of Platinum Rye Entertainment, a broker of celebrity talent for ads and promotions. Gordon and Schinman were partners in the old Miami Marketing Group.

    In addition to Kiernan, the partnership group will have Chris Handy, formerly of Agassi Enterprises, serving as COO; and Nick Hines and David Wilson as executive vice presidents.

    Gordon said Engine Shop would delve deeper into creating digital, mobile and social media extensions from the agency’s big sports and entertainment events, which include hospitality at the MTV awards, Victoria’s Secret fashion show and the ESPYs. “Simply building an experience or putting on a concert no longer moves the needle,” Gordon said.

    Kiernan, whose background was primarily in golf at GMR, described the executive group as “guys who have known each other for years and have always wanted to build a unique agency. We all bring a unique Rolodex to the table from the sports, celebrity and entertainment worlds, and we finally got the timing right.”

    Kiernan said the goal is to develop a broad list of consulting clients looking for that mix of nightlife and sports marketing.

    “The idea used to be ‘Get people to the event.’ Now it’s more about taking the experience and pushing it out to as many people as possible,” Kiernan said.

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  • No room at Indy

    Sports marketer Larry Rothstein has been entertaining clients at the Super Bowl since 1998, but the asking price on hotel rooms in and around Indianapolis this year caught him off guard.

    “I can’t get anything downtown without taking out a mortgage, and I’ve been seeing things like the Super 8 and Motel 6 that are 25 to 40 miles out of town asking $350 to $700 a night, and they all have four-night minimums — and they all usually cost $69 a night,” said Rothstein, owner and president of Source Communications. “I don’t think the NFL has much control over all this, but it would be nice if they could stop these guys from using the Super Bowl as their own slot machine. I’m feeling ripped off.”

    Photo by: INDIANAPOLIS CONVENTION & VISITORS ASSOCIATION, VISITINDY.COM
    A combination of far fewer hotel rooms than a typical host city, two teams from large markets getting to the league’s championship game, and the NFL itself gobbling up most of the prime spaces has led to what executives are calling historically high prices for the Indianapolis Super Bowl.

    Remarkably well-connected industry types are staying miles out of town. Large corporations are hosting client hospitality in distant cities, including Chicago, which is about 180 miles from Indianapolis. Fans trying to find room at the inn undoubtedly will have the same experiences, and complaints, this week.

    Whereas many years the most frequently heard question on the streets of a Super Bowl city is “Whadya pay for your ticket?” this year, the same question is being asked about hotel rooms.

    In Rothstein’s case, after a few weeks of frantically searching, he called in a favor and got three rooms at an Indianapolis airport hotel — for five times the normal rate, at a hotel that doesn’t normally charge more than $200 a night for a room.

    “I have never seen prices like this,” said Alan Bachand, partner in sports hospitality site 14SB.com, who is working his 16th Super Bowl.

    Bachand said this summer’s Olympics in London will have good hotel rooms at one-third the price of those in downtown Indianapolis this week. “It is crazy,” he said. “The [downtown] La Quinta is selling for $1,975 a night, with a four-night minimum, plus 17 percent [tax].” The week after Super Bowl, that same room will cost $74 a night.

    “I have people offering me $8,000 for a room at the Hyatt, but I can’t get my hands on it,” Bachand said. “We have a suite for $8,000 a night at Embassy Suites. There is nothing downtown.”

    14SB.com normally sells about 400 hotel rooms for a Super Bowl. It will do, at best, 300 here, but the company’s total sales will still set a record.

    The NFL requires host Super Bowl cities to have 20,000 rooms within an hour’s drive. There are 6,000 hotel rooms in downtown Indianapolis, and at least 20,000 total within that mandatory hour’s drive of the city. But the NFL contracted for around 17,000 of those 20,000 rooms for use by teams, media, business partners, league and team officials, and, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, for fans.

    Unlike many Super Bowls that have the weekend’s events spread out, Indianapolis’ allure was a compact geography that, in theory, would allow fans to walk to everything. As things have played out, such accommodations will be mostly for the very well-connected. Everyone else will be staying away from downtown.

    Even the NFL’s own Super Bowl party, Friday night’s commissioner’s party, is not downtown but about five miles away, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. So is the Maxim party the next night. And for those hoping to get into Indianapolis’ famed St. Elmo Steak House: the NFL has it fully booked Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

    Patrick Gallo, vice president at Toronto-based sports hospitality company Sportality, said that from a hotel room inventory perspective, this is the worst he has ever seen — other than for the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix, the now defunct Formula One race that also was in Indianapolis.

    “The level of hotels, and inventory of hotels, is smaller than other NFL Super Bowl host cities, and there is not a lot in the outlying areas,” he said. “I have people staying in Chicago and coming in for the day.”

    By population count, Indianapolis is the smallest Super Bowl host city since Jacksonville, which saw its first and likely last Super Bowl in 2005, one in which cruise ships were floated in as auxiliary hotels and traffic was horrific enough that I-95 had to be closed several nights of Super Bowl week.

    “This is the worst hotel situation I’ve seen since Jacksonville,” said sports hospitality veteran Robert Tuchman, president of Elite Experiences. “The good news is that demand is still very strong. … I have clients paying $10,000 for tickets and flying in on private jets who are staying at the Jameson Inn in South Bend [130 miles away].”

    QuintEvents, which sells the majority of the NFL’s official On Location hospitality packages, has sold several thousand packages and was out of top-tier packages last week. Those packages are priced at $8,699 and include on-field access.

    After not being able to find appropriate hotel space in Indianapolis, one of QuintEvents’ biggest corporate clients settled on doing several days of hospitality in Louisville, Ky. (about 115 miles away), where it is hosting several hundred clients and staff, and then busing them in and out on game day. “They were able to get everyone in the same [hotel] property in Louisville and at a better rate, and I know they are doing much better on airfare,” said QuintEvents CEO Brian Learst.

    Other than staging hospitality outside of Indianapolis, the idea of not spending the night in the city is gaining popularity among clients who consider the Super Bowl a must.

    “The problems with hotels in Indianapolis is making private jets in and out the same day more popular than ever for us,” said Matt Haines, senior vice president at Inside Sports & Entertainment Group, New York, which is selling hotel-and-ticket packages ranging from $4,250 to $15,000.

    Commercial airfare is another complaint. A search last week on Expedia found a direct, round-trip flight from New York arriving Thursday and leaving Monday at $1,609. With a layover you could purchase a ticket for as low of $785. On those same days the following week, the cheapest nonstop was $272, or $222 with a layover.

    Sportality’s Gallo said he’d booked a direct flight from Toronto to Indianapolis that cost $2,600. Now, his company has a Toronto-Indianapolis charter going in and out on Sunday.

    Sharyn Outtrim, executive vice president of strategic events at PrimeSport, said her firm is putting Super Bowl clients into hotels they had never considered before, like a Days Inn location. Other clients have shifted their budgets. “It’s opened up other events,” said Outtrim, whose company sells official travel packages for the New England Patriots, along with 13 other NFL teams, and is hosting a game-day Super Bowl tailgate with NFL alumni. “We have clients that shifted to the BCS championship or the Final Four in New Orleans because those are also great events and they could get in the hotels they wanted.”

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  • Rematch inspires high licensing expectations

    Everyone looks for comparables when making a business evaluation, but the last time there was a rematch in the Super Bowl was 1993-94, when the Buffalo Bills played the Dallas Cowboys at the end of the Bills’ remarkable zero-for-four Super Bowl run.

    Eli Manning was a teenager then, and Internet use was restricted to supercomputers — so no one’s quite sure if this year’s rematch of the 2008 Miracle in the Desert will be a sales bonanza for NFL licensees the way it has been for those peddling secondary tickets and hotel rooms in Indianapolis.

    Some licensees said the NFL discouraged any “rematch” graphics.
    “Of the teams that were left, this was the best scenario for business, so we have reasonably high expectations now,” said John DeWaal, director of marketing at Lids, the cap and licensed-product retailer that has around 1,000 North American locations and is headquartered in Indianapolis.

    Lids will open what could be described as the world’s biggest “pop up” store downtown during Super Bowl weekend in Indianapolis: a 23,000-square-foot temporary retail space on the second floor of a former Nordstrom store. “It’s our hometown, so we thought it was worth the gamble,” DeWaal said.

    While a Super Bowl rematch is unusual, this year’s AFC representative is certainly not. Over the last nine Super Bowls, including this year’s, the AFC team has been either New England, Pittsburgh or Indianapolis. The NFC has sent a different team to the Super Bowl every year of that span — with the exception of the Giants in 2008 and again this year.

    “You’ve got the first downtown situation for a Super Bowl since New Orleans [2002] and two strong-market teams that travel well, so we think we’ll do very well,’’ said Milt Arenson, CEO of Facility Merchandising Inc., which will handle licensed merchandise sales at Lucas Oil Stadium.

    Echoed NFL licensing chief Leo Kane, “We’ve got the whole New York-Boston thing going, and a downtown retail base like we’ve never had, so there are lofty expectations.’’

    FMI is also running the 25,000-square-foot official NFL Shop downtown within the NFL Experience. With the expected downtown foot traffic, that store has expanded its days and hours this year. It was set to open last Saturday and remain open through Feb. 6, the day after the Super Bowl. For the first time, shoppers can access the store without having to buy a ticket, as they will be able to go through the NFL Experience fan fest.

    Arenson added that any comparisons to last year are unfair.

    “Remember, we’re coming off a Super Bowl in a 90,000-seat stadium [Cowboys Stadium] that was won by a team [Green Bay] with a strong national following. But I still see strong sales this year because of the downtown location and great story lines,” he said.

    As a subplot, this is Reebok’s last year after a decade as the NFL’s on-field rights holder. Kane said Reebok sold the last of its Patriots and Giants jerseys to retailers, including Modell’s.

    “This is bigger than the last time the Giants were in the Super Bowl and maybe bigger than the Yankees [2009 World Series win], because basically you’ve got a Yankees-Red Sox rivalry translated to the NFL,” said Modell’s CEO Mitchell Modell. “We can’t keep our Victor Cruz salsa T–shirt [which has “Cruuuuuz” on the front and salsa dancing instructions on the back] in stock.”

    Some licensees said they were discouraged by the league from designing graphics touting “rematch” in favor of selling more generic Super Bowl merchandise with images of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, something the NFL has been pushing hard in recent years. As for “if-win” orders, licensee reaction was universal: They are expecting about the same size orders regardless the victor.

    “With more people, you’d think New York market demand would be bigger, but you’ve got two teams that won relatively recently, so we’re seeing pretty similar numbers for each,” said Jim Pisani, president of VF Corp.’s licensed sports group.

    Like many licensees, VF not only wasn’t hurt by the lockout, its NFL numbers are up from last season.
    “You wonder if it was pent-up demand, but we’re healthy now,” Pisani said. “We have exceeded our own projections on NFL sales.”

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  • Parking lot vendors carve out some space

    The mottos of the two biggest online parking vendors in sports sum up the scene for the 150,000 fans expected to converge on Indianapolis this week.

    ParkWhiz: You have guaranteed seats. Why not guaranteed parking?

    Click and Park: Your Space is Ready When You Are

    Chicago-based ParkWhiz handles online reservations at 12,000 spaces across 27 parking locations within a mile of Lucas Oil Stadium. The company brokered sales at nearly 7,000 spaces near last year’s game in Arlington, Texas.

    Aashish Dalal, co-founder and CEO of ParkWhiz, said the average cost of parking at a privately owned spot his company controls near Lucas Oil Stadium is about $160, up 14 percent compared with last year’s game at Cowboys Stadium. Dalal said most consumers will seek a non-tailgate/standard parking spot, where pricing ranges from $39-$129 and is averaging $99, 22 percent higher than comparable spots last year.

    The lot owner sets the prices and can adjust them in real time as the event draws nearer. ParkWhiz acts as a broker, much like StubHub does with ticket sales for events. It adds a 10 percent service fee and receives a 15 percent cut from the base rate from the parking vendors. There are no contracts. Fans can print out receipts at home, or for lots that have eTickets technology, can scan their smart phones at the lot.

    Dalal said his company has partnerships with more than 500 independent parking providers near almost 100 sports or entertainment venues in major league markets.

    Click and Park, the NFL’s exclusive Super Bowl parking vendor, is another online parking reservation system that allows event attendees to reserve and pay for their parking online. The Orlando-based company will operate a total of 15,007 off-site spaces in 13 areas for the league, according to Fred Laughlin, vice president of management services at Indianapolis Downtown Inc., the city’s not-for-profit organization charged with marketing the city center.

    After service and shipping fees, parking rates in Click and Park spaces range from $76 for a standard passenger car to $341 for a bus or motor coach. As of Jan. 24, 40 percent of the NFL’s spaces had been reserved, according to Don Jordan, vice president of operations for SP Plus Gameday, Click and Park’s parent company.

    As in previous years, the NFL forbids tailgating in any of its lots, which Dalal said creates an opportunity for independent lot operators, many of whom are churches or retailers looking to capitalize on the market’s demands. “It’s nice to be able to get in town a couple days early and just park and set up your party,” he said. “For a lot of fans, the parking spot is where they’ll be watching the game from.”

    Dalal said three-day RV reservations range from $400 to $1,000, with the average space costing $575 (down 29 percent). Tailgate spots are leasing between $100 and $500, with the average cost at $188 (up 28 percent).

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  • Party planners find pluses, challenges in Indy

    There are some of the same complaints about pricing and availability of party space in Indianapolis this week as there are about hotel rooms. However, for the most part, hospitality veterans are cheered by a Midwestern, downtown location, where people need things to do indoors.

    While concerned about the climate and the lack of upscale hotel rooms, hospitality specialists cited the centralized location of Indianapolis and the hype regarding a matchup of the two teams involved in the game as strong points for good business.

    “In Phoenix [in 2008], having these two teams didn’t affect things at all,” said QuintEvents CEO Brian Learst, noting the first time the Patriots and the Giants met. “But this time, it will, and it is.”

    Learst said upper-tier, “get in” game tickets were going for around $2,200 last week at the lowest price.

    Demand for the usual big parties is high also.
    Last year’s weather in Dallas made outdoor events rare and pushed events indoors.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES (2)
    Playboy party tickets were being sold by QuintEvents for $1,500.

    On Saturday night, Maxim’s 12th annual Super Bowl party, long considered a “must-attend” event, will be held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds (where the league’s commissioner’s party will be held on Friday night), and tickets can be had for $2,000, Learst said.

    “A challenge in Indy has been the lack of venues that can fit a party of our size combined with the weather factor,” said Maxim event planner Tracy Kessler. Party sponsors this year include Patrón, Coca-Cola Zero and Tabasco. “This one party provides a branding opportunity not only for the magazine, but for its advertisers,” Kessler said.

    Over the years, magazines have found the Super Bowl to be a good venue for hospitality and branding. Most pros said the formula is to sell enough sponsorships so that you can come close to breaking even.

    ESPN’s eighth Next party will be held Friday night at the 40,000-square-foot Jobsite Supply Warehouse, with 2,000 guests expected. Sponsors include Dunkin’ Donuts, which will be sampling coffee and Munchkins outside the event; Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice, with a green-screen photo op; and Vicks, with “warming stations” in and around the party. Maker’s Mark is the spirits sponsor and Bud Light is showcasing its new Bud Light Platinum, which has 6 percent alcohol by volume, compared with 4.2 percent for Bud Light.

    Van Heusen’s Institute of Style will be giving away ties and bracelets at the event and hosting a silent auction. Powerade is also sampling, along with Snickers. LG will be tweeting from the event.

    “We really go after having the title of ‘best party,’” said Alyssa Muenkel, associate director of event marketing for ESPN, whose first Next party was the last time the Giants and Patriots met, in 2008. As far as ROI on the event? “The Super Bowl is where our brand should be, so maybe it’s as simple as that,” Muenkel said.

    Sports Illustrated does not have a party scheduled this year. SI spokesman Scott Novak said, simply, “The numbers didn’t work for us.”

    Moves Magazine is also skipping its annual party after five consecutive years. Publisher and CEO Scott Miller said Indy’s weather and the cost of a party relative to prior Super Bowls convinced him to host an event around the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando this year instead.

    New to the magazine party scene is Rolling Stone, diving in with a Saturday night party at the Crane Bay, another rehabbed space.

    “Our idea is to make this self-liquidating, get our brand out there, tie in some business and make some of our business partners happy,” said Rolling Stone Publisher Matt Mastrangelo. “If we get out of this OK, we’re looking forward to doing it again in New Orleans next year.”

    Bacardi, celebrating its 150th anniversary, is title sponsoring a 1,200- to 1,300-person Saturday night gig, while VW is sponsoring a 3,000-person tailgate on Sunday afternoon. Each has top-name musical talent. The Saturday event is $1,000, while a tailgate ticket is $500.

    What started as a beach party has evolved into the sixth annual Beach Bash for DirecTV, holding a public concert for 10,000 people Saturday afternoon and a private party for 2,500 at the city’s downtown Class AAA ballpark, Victory Field.

    The challenges of location caused DirecTV to buy a 54,000-square-foot tent to house the event. “This is a nice statement for us and we can tie in our sponsors well,” said Jon Gieselman, senior vice president of marketing for DirecTV. “At the end of the day, we try to pull off an event that has a halo on the brand.”

    Within the orgy of excess that is the Super Bowl, there is room for philanthropy. The Giving Back Fund is holding its fourth Big Game Big Give shindig, this time on Friday night at a 30,000-square-foot space within the Super Bowl Village downtown. There’s a 250-person, invitation-only VIP event, hosted by producer/director Michael Bay, expanding into a 2,000-person fundraiser with Wyclef Jean entertaining.

    Tickets are $750 for the VIP event and $150 for the larger affair.

    Print | Tags: Super Bowl
  • The season that was

    March 12
    ■ The NFL lockout begins, shortly after the NFL Players Association decertifies and funds an antitrust lawsuit against the league.

    “At his heart Roger can be a cold son of a bitch. I think the people on the other side of the negotiating table are going to hear that in the coming months.”
    — Former NBC Sports Group Chairman Dick Ebersol, on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Feb. 3)

    April 28
    ■ NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, upon taking the stage before the start of the NFL draft, is greeted by a wave of boos, followed by a chant of “We want football!” as fans in attendance voice their displeasure over the lack of a new labor deal.

    April 28-29

    Ryan Mundy arrives at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training facility in April after a court ruling briefly forces the league to open team facilities to players. The lockout resumed a day later.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ The league briefly allows players into team facilities, but not to practice, as it jockeys back and forth with the union over a court ruling that ordered the league to end the lockout. The league quickly gets a stay on that ruling and resumes the lockout.

    May 8
    ■ The Green Bay Packers say they hope to begin construction on an expansion of the south end-zone area at historic Lambeau Field after the Super Bowl in February. The plan calls for adding as many as 7,500 seats. Later in the year, the team sells stock to raise money for the project.

    May 16
    ■ The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issues a stay that confirms the league’s lockout and pushes players back toward the negotiating table.

    June 1
    ■ In what would be the first in a series of “secret meetings,” the NFL and players renew talks.

    “Can you tell we’re in a lockout? We’re watching Chris Cooley make a bowl out of clay. This is what’s happening.”
    — NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, on the Redskins tight end molding clay on a spinning wheel on set (June 3)

    July 21
    ■ The NFL cancels the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, originally set for Aug. 7, as labor negotiations continue. The game would prove to be the only casualty of the 2011-12 season caused by the labor dispute.

    “We believe we have an agreement. Now it’s up to the players.”
    — NFL Giants President and CEO John Mara (July 22)


    July 25
    DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell announce that they have reached a deal.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ The players vote in favor of a deal that would end all litigation against the league, bring forth a new CBA and end the lockout.
    ■ Despite the labor situation, television ad sales around the fall’s NFL games skyrocket to record levels, with between 80 percent and 90 percent of the regular-season ad inventory sold.

    July 26
    ■ Players and owners start a crazy week, squeezing all the offseason activity that the league missed — free agency, trades, cuts to get under the salary cap, signings of rookies as well as undrafted free agents — into one week while teams open training camps.

    Aug. 11
    ■ The 2011-12 season gets under way with five preseason games.

    Aug. 22
    ■ Agents complete the wildest, and definitely shortest, NFL player signing period ever. CAA Football alone, in a 12-day period, negotiated $606.8 million worth of deals.

    “I averaged about two to three hours of sleep, once the gates opened. I remember having a conversation with a superstar player and a head coach at 4 in the morning.”
    — Agent Joel Segal, who said he negotiated $147 million in about four days during this year’s signing period (Aug. 22)


    Aug. 23
    MetLife scores a massive naming-rights deal for the home of the New York Jets and Giants.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ MetLife formally announces a 25-year naming-rights deal at New Meadowlands Stadium valued at $17 million to $20 million per year. The company originally was one of the stadium’s cornerstone partners.

    Aug. 29
    ■ USAA signs a four-year deal as the NFL’s new insurance sponsor.

    Sept. 5
    ■ The NFL announces the renewal of its partnership with PepsiCo with a new agreement that will take effect in 2012.
    ■ Marriott International announces it has signed a multiyear deal to be the league’s exclusive lodging category sponsor.

    Sept. 8
    The Green Bay Packers are introduced at Lambeau Field in their season-opening game against the New Orleans Saints.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ The regular season gets under way, with the Green Bay Packers defeating the New Orleans Saints on a Thursday night matchup. The game attracts 27.2 million viewers and earns a 16.0 rating.
    ■ ESPN and the NFL sign an eight-year extension to their media rights agreement that is worth $1.9 billion per year, a whopping 63 percent increase over the average price of the current deal.
    ■ The upcoming season marks Reebok’s 10th and final year as the NFL’s exclusive on-field jersey and cap rights holder. Those rights will shift to Nike and New Era beginning with the 2012-13 season.
    ■ Two new Bud Light ads debut as Anheuser-Busch returns as the league’s official beer sponsor.

    Oct. 4
    ■ The New Orleans Saints and Mercedes-Benz reach a 10-year naming-rights agreement for the 36-year-old Louisiana Superdome. Sources value the deal between $50 million and $60 million.

    Oct. 17
    ■ The NFL is planning to form a more than $32 million venture capital fund to invest in startup media, technology and entertainment businesses that tie into football.

    Oct. 31
    ■ NFL teams will start using hand-held metal detectors to upgrade the screening process at all 31 stadiums.

    Nov. 7
    ■ The league outlines plans for NFL House, a high-end, drop-in facility for business partners that will debut during Super Bowl week in Indianapolis.

    “We’re providing not just a game, but an experience, so it’s about how we make the experience better to a number of constituencies. We wanted to make our business partners feel better taken care of.”
    — Frank Supovitz,
    NFL senior vice president of events, on plans for NFL House (Nov. 7)


    Nov. 21
    ■ More than a decade after launching a league-branded magazine that folded after about three years, the NFL reaches a licensing agreement with a relatively unknown publisher, Dauphin Media Group, to produce NFL Magazine.

    Nov. 24
    ■ The Thanksgiving Day Miami Dolphins-Dallas Cowboys game averages 30.9 million viewers, marking the most viewed regular-season game of 2011 and most viewed CBS Thanksgiving game since the network acquired the AFC package in 1998.
    ■ NFL Network averages 10.7 million viewers for the San Francisco 49ers-Baltimore Ravens Thanksgiving night game, marking the network’s most viewed telecast in its eight-year history and helping the network earn its most viewed season yet of live NFL games.

    Dec. 13
    ■ Santa Clara leaders endorse a deal to fund and build a new San Francisco 49ers stadium, clearing the way for the project to begin once the NFL commits to finance at least $150 million toward the stadium.

    Dec. 14
    Ratings continue to roll as the league cashes in on new media rights deals.
    Photo by: Getty Images

    ■ NFL owners formally approve nine-year extensions of their TV agreements with CBS, Fox and NBC through 2022. The collective increase for the three networks is 7 percent per year throughout the deal. Fox will pay an average annual fee of $1.1 billion, while CBS pays $1.0 billion and NBC $950 million.
    ■ NFL owners approve the transfer of ownership of the Jacksonville Jaguars from Wayne Weaver to Shahid Khan, in a deal valued at $760 million.

    Dec. 21
    ■ The Miami Dolphins will soon start searching for a new stadium naming-rights partner after Sun Life Financial announces it is leaving the U.S. The Sun Life Stadium name will be gone within three years, when the team’s deal with the financial firm expires.

    Jan. 1
    ■ NBC averages 27.6 million viewers for the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants “Sunday Night Football” finale, marking the network’s most viewed regular-season prime-time game ever and the NFL’s most viewed regular-season prime-time game in 15 years.
    ■ Fox averaged 20.1 million viewers for its NFL regular-season games in 2011, tied with last season as its most viewed NFL season yet. The network’s 12.0 average rating was its highest since 1995.

    Jan. 15
    ■ The four NFL Divisional playoff games across CBS and Fox averaged 36.6 million viewers, marking the most viewed NFL Divisional weekend ever.

    Jan. 22
    ■ The Conference Championship games between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, and the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants, average 53.7 million viewers across Fox and CBS, marking the largest Conference Championship Sunday audience in 30 years.

    Source: SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily archives


    Print | Tags: Super Bowl
  • Inside tips on Indy eats

    The world is descending on Indianapolis this week for Super Bowl XLVI, and the world, as usual, is hungry. We asked some locals from the sports industry where they like to grab a bite, and they were kind enough to point us to their favorites. Be warned, though: If you don’t already have reservations for some of downtown’s most popular spots, surviving the wait list may require the determination of a Super Bowl champ.

    PETER R. DAVIS
    Director of Championships and Alliances, NCAA

    Café Patachou
    Photo by: CAFE PATACHOU
    I can’t say that I knew what to expect from the Indianapolis restaurant scene when we moved to Indianapolis almost 10 years ago, but we’ve certainly found our favorites as we’ve learned to love the city. Starting the day at Café Patachou is fantastic — especially if you order their cinnamon toast, which may be the best you’ll ever taste. You’ll be happy there for lunch, too, or carry out an incredibly inventive sandwich from Goose The Market. When it comes to dinner, Bazbeaux pizza is an absolute go-to for us for a fun, casual meal. For the full dining experience, I’d put the food and flavor combinations from chef proprietor Steve Oakley at Oakleys Bistro up against just about any restaurant.

    TODD TAYLOR
    Harry & Izzy's
    Photo by: HUSE INC.
    SVP and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Indiana Pacers
    I think a must-visit should be Bankers Life Fieldhouse. We have an event or two each day during Super Bowl week — including Pacers games against the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday, and the Orlando Magic on Saturday. And for a cool atmosphere and a great cocktail, be sure to stop by the 1933 Lounge. You can find it tucked between St. Elmo Steak House and Harry & Izzy’s, both of which are exceptional dinner options in their own right.

    RANDY BERNARD
    CEO, IndyCar
    Mo’s: Try their Chilean sea bass, unbelievable
    St. Elmo Steak House
    Photo by: HUSE INC.
    Ruth’s Chris Steak House
    Sensu (Asian fusion)
    Indianpolis Colts Grille: Great food and great sports bar
    The Oceanaire (fish)
    Iaria’s Italian Restaurant: Great hangout. Italian food — nothing fancy, just good food

    STEVE PENNY
    President and CEO, USA Gymnastics
    Indy has lots of great places to dine — both downtown and somewhat off the beaten path. For my money, Fogo de Chão is one of my favorites, along with all of the great steak places. If you can’t get into St. Elmo’s, remember that Harry & Izzy’s serves the same shrimp cocktail. For lunch, Shapiro’s Deli or go for Italian at The Milano Inn. For barbecue fans, make the 10-minute trip to Black Diamond on the north side. You won’t be disappointed.

    BARRY COLLIER
    Binkley's Kitchen & Bar
    Photo by: LUX RESTAURANTS
    Athletic Director, Butler University
    One of the great things about Indianapolis is the tremendous number of outstanding restaurants. And one of my favorites is Binkley’s. The atmosphere is great, the food is terrific, and it’s a place where you’re bound to run into Butler fans. And they have plenty of TVs for great sports viewing. I would recommend trying the Strawberry Chicken Salad for lunch.

    TOM JERNSTEDT
    Former EVP, NCAA
    Harry & Izzy’s: Located next to the very popular St. Elmo’s. Believe both properties are owned by the same individuals with the addition of Peyton Manning as a part-owner of Harry & Izzy’s, I believe. Large circular bar off the entry.
    Lorenzo’s: Italian restaurant that opened several months ago and has quickly established itself for excellent Italian food and atmosphere.

    PETE WARD
    COO, Indianapolis Colts
    Indianapolis Colts Grille: Large screens everywhere; great atmosphere and better food.
    Bonus picks:
    Unheralded gem: Indiana State Museum/Eiteljorg Museum (downtown, walking distance from most hotels)
    For young Super Bowl visitors: Indianapolis Children’s Museum (just north of downtown): Best and biggest in the world!

    Print | Tags: Super Bowl
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