SBJ/March 19-25, 2012/Facilities

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  • Aramark using new website, tag line to get message across

    Don Muret
    Aramark Sports and Entertainment has revamped its website with a new brand initiative to strengthen its position in food and retail operations.

    The new site, www.aramarkentertainment.com, incorporates the tag line “Insight to Impact,” a phrase Aramark trademarked to put greater emphasis on the breadth of services it offers, said Marc Bruno, president of the company’s sports group.

    Aramark officials think the site makeover and the message conveyed by the new tag line will provide current clients and potential new customers with a deeper understanding of the firm’s capabilities beyond serving hot dogs and beer at the ballgame.

    The concessionaire has 29 accounts covering food and merchandise concessions and premium dining in MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL, second only to Levy Restaurants, which has 37.

    As a result, Aramark has compiled an extensive list of best practices and a large database of consumer research to help its clients increase per caps, but company officials think they can do a better job articulating how they can work with teams and facilities to generate more revenue.

    “There hasn’t been a great way to package the way we go to market,” Bruno said. “There is a growing need to define ourselves better. The industry is more competitive, and we need to stay ahead.”

    The influx of stored-value tickets, celebrity chefs partnering with teams to develop signature dishes and trucks serving street foods at ballparks, three trends where Aramark has been on the front end of development, are spelled out in case studies listed on the site.

    “We also need to take better credit for things we do … as it translates to the fan experience,” Bruno said.

    The official launch of the “Insight to Impact” campaign is today. Aramark’s upgraded website has been active since March 1.

    The true measure of success will always revolve around a concessionaire’s on-site performance, said one industry expert. “A new website is always nice, but companies are going to be judged by their food and service at the account,” said food consultant Chris Bigelow.

    WESTWOOD ONE: The sports executive responsible for marketing naming rights for Pauley Pavilion sold one of the first naming-rights deals for an arena.

    In 1988, Joe Heitzler, now chairman and CEO of Entertainment Management Group, the agency UCLA hired for the job, was principally involved in selling naming rights to the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., to Great Western Savings & Loan. At the time, Heitzler was president of Forum Sports Entertainment, owner of the Lakers, Los Angeles Kings and the Forum, the arena his boss, Jack Kent Cooke, built in 1967.

    “I guess that shows you how long I’ve been around in this business,” Heitzler said.

    UCLA hired EMG in June over IMG College and Wasserman Media Group for the Pauley Pavilion assignment. The school has committed to keeping the name of the late Edwin W. Pauley, a state regent who helped pay for arena construction, in the facility’s new title.

    Regardless of the restriction, EMG officials are confident a deal will be completed by the time the arena reopens in October after renovations are complete. A long-term deal to rename Pauley could sell for more than $2 million annually, Heitzler said.

    EMG has narrowed the list of potential naming-rights partners to fewer than five and is vetting the candidates. Heitzler would not identify the companies and business categories because of nondisclosure agreements.

    In his 38 years in sports, Heitzler’s stops have included CBS Sports, World TeamTennis and Championship Auto Racing Teams, where he was chairman and CEO from 2001 to ’04. Heitzler founded EMG in 2005.

    DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY:
    The Baltimore Orioles have launched a new website, www.camdenyards20.com, recognizing the 20th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

    The site features an interactive timeline of highlights over the past 20 seasons at the ballpark, including the Eutaw Street Home Run Tracker, containing individual videos of the 57 home runs that have reached the stadium’s outfield food court.
    The site has jerseys for sale with the same 20th anniversary right shoulder patch to be worn by Orioles players on the field this season.

    In the coming weeks, the site also will have merchandise specific to Camden Yards for sale containing the phrase “The Ballpark That Forever Changed Baseball.” The Orioles trademarked the slogan for the park, which has influenced many others since it opened in 1992.

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

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  • Technology enhances Final Four court sounds

    Consultant Coffeen Fricke used acoustic noise canceling technology at Reliant Stadium in 2011 to improve the on-court audio.
    Photo by: COFFEEN FRICKE & ASSOCIATES
    The familiar sounds of the Final Four are those of squeaking sneakers and the swoosh of the nets, but three years after moving the men’s event to a center-court configuration in football stadiums to increase capacity, NCAA officials continue to fine-tune acoustics to accommodate fans, the tournament, CBS and the players on the court.

    Final Four acoustics consultant Coffeen Fricke & Associates produces an audio effects feed that picks up the sounds of the game — like the sneakers and nets — and sends them through the stadium’s in-house sound system so that they can be heard in the stadium’s upper reaches.

    “The NCAA is interested in making it feel like a more intimate venue than it actually is,” said Stephen Solberg, a senior associate at Coffeen Fricke.

    The consultant was also hired in part to provide a high-quality experience for Final Four attendees paying as much as $400 on the primary market to sit on event-level bleachers sloping back from the court, said L.J. Wright, the NCAA’s director of championships, alliances and operations.

    “We had to do something to get more floor coverage because we were putting fans farther out on the field with prime ticket holders sitting in those seats,” Wright said. “The first year, we tried different things with the way we miked the floor and near the goals to pick up sounds.”

    But attempts to augment on-court sounds at the 2009 Final Four at Detroit’s Ford Field backfired, forcing the consultant to shut its feed down halfway through the event. The challenge revolved around echoes that reverberate inside the big stadiums, where loudspeakers hang 40 feet above the court and microphones plugged in at event level capture the sounds of the game.

    “It proved to be very distracting for the players, like with free throws when they would bounce the ball a couple times and then a few seconds later, they would hear the ball bouncing again from the sound system,” Solberg said. The echoes can also interfere with the public address system and the CBS broadcast.

    After the issue arose again at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium in 2010, Coffeen Fricke tapped into a new technology called acoustic echo canceling, commonly used for teleconference calls in small boardrooms. It identifies two audio signals and separates the first signal from the second one during the same transmission.

    The technology enables Coffeen Fricke to broadcast the effects it picks up on the court through microphones shared by CBS and subtract the public address announcer’s voice before those sounds go through the loudspeakers. Most important, it eliminates the echoes that can disrupt the broadcast, the public address system and play on the court.

    The consultant has used the technology in arenas, but not to the extent that it is used during the Final Four, Solberg said. It was employed at the 2011 Final Four at Reliant Stadium in Houston and will be brought back for next month’s Final Four at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

    Biamp Systems, a Beaverton, Ore., tech firm, provides the technology free to the consultant and the NCAA. It is stored in a small box set up on a desk about 30 yards from the court, plugged into the small mixing console and microphones operated by the consultant.

    “When we took this device to Houston last year, it was really an experiment to see if it would work, and it did end up working very well,” Solberg said. “CBS was very happy with the end results.”

    CBS officials declined to comment on the new system.

    “The testing of the technology has gotten to the point that we understand it,” Wright said. “It’s a good product.”

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