SBJ/April 2-8, 2012/Events and Attractions

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  • French soccer will open season with game at Red Bull Arena

    Comcast-Spectacor and its Front Row Marketing subsidiary are bringing one of the top French-league soccer matches to the U.S. this summer. The Trophée des Champions, which marks the start of the French soccer season, will be played at Red Bull Arena on July 28 in Harrison, N.J.

    The match, also known as the French Super Cup, is held annually between the winner of the elite French Ligue 1 and the winner of the French Cup. Over the past three years, it was held in Morocco, Tunisia and Montreal. At press time, powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain was tied for the league lead with Montpellier Hérault SC.

    “This game is meaningful because it kicks off their season, but there is some significance here since an original intent of building Red Bull was to attract internationals,” said Mark Noonan, a former MLS marketing executive, who now heads the Connecticut-based agency FocalSport.

    The match unites Comcast-Spectacor’s management abilities with the top levels of French soccer at a time when the country is starting to build out its soccer infrastructure, including four new stadiums in Lille, Lyon, Nice and Bordeaux, in advance of hosting the Euro 2016 24-team tournament.

    “This aligns us with a major European soccer league when they are looking hard at their growth potential,” said Chris Lencheski, who signed on as president of Front Row Marketing last October. “For us, the biggest thing is to show our capabilities. We want a footprint over there and this is a great start.”

    In describing the business arrangement, Lencheski said the French league is serving as promoter and assuming the risk, while Comcast and Front Row are the sales and marketing arm.

    Front Row also is serving as a consultant and selling domestic TV rights. Given parent Comcast’s TV holdings, one would normally expect the game to be on the NBC Sports Network. However, that network will be busy with the Olympics, so the match will likely end up on various Comcast regional sports networks and on one of the New York-market RSNs. Front Row is selling domestic sponsorship packages, ranging from $50,000-$250,000, which include TV, perimeter signage and digital assets.

    Tickets are expected to range from $25 to $200. The precise team matchup won’t be known until late April, which will leave less than two months for sales efforts.

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