SBJ/July 16-22, 2012/Facilities

Suns create ‘place of our own’ around town with Hoops Hub

Don Muret
The Phoenix Suns have developed the “ultimate mobile application” to extend their brand in the local market, team officials say.

The Hoops Hub, a 30-foot-long walk-in trailer, contains a small basketball court and hoop, a replica of the Suns’ locker room at US Airways Center, a team history wall listing every Suns player over the past 45 years, and built-in televisions to play video games.

The Suns paid BizBox, a Scottsdale, Ariz., company, a six-figure sum to develop the trailer with the vision of creating a customized fan experience that they can take on the road to destinations in Greater Phoenix, including Cactus League spring training games.

The Hoops Hub trailer has a small court outside and several team-related activities within.
Photo by: PHOENIX SUNS
The team’s investment covers a one-year lease with BizBox with an option to buy the unit after the initial deal expires, Suns President Brad Casper said.

The team has always viewed itself as an innovative, forward-thinking franchise and saw the Hoops Hub as a “perfect vehicle to bring the Suns to all parts of their fan base,” Casper said.

The trailer also fits well with Operation Orange, the Suns’ community outreach program tied to family-friendly events and charitable causes that the team formed last year as a way to remain visible in Phoenix during the NBA lockout. During the work stoppage, the Suns organized events at shopping malls, water parks and the local zoo with appearances from former Suns players, team cheerleaders and the Gorilla, one of the NBA’s most recognizable mascots.

Previously, those venues provided the dominant images of Operation Orange activities. The flexibility of the Hoops Hub will help the team “create a place of our own” at other entertainment destinations in town, Casper said.

The trailer also should help the Suns generate revenue. The team plans to take orders for season tickets and single-game tickets from the Hoops Hub in addition to selling merchandise.

As a tie-in to the team’s 45th anniversary this coming season, Adidas, the NBA’s official retail apparel partner, is producing retro Hardwood Classic jerseys for the Suns, and the Hoops Hub will help push that product when it is made available at retail by February, Casper said.

The Suns first used the Hoops Hub in June outside US Airways Center to introduce first-round draft pick Kendall Marshall. The trailer made a second appearance over the Fourth of July holiday at the Tempe Town Lake development.

PANTHERS’ PAYOFF: The Carolina Panthers drew favorable comments from their season-ticket holders and corporate partners after playing host to the first concert in 15 years at Bank of America Stadium, said team President Danny Morrison.

The Kenny Chesney-Tim McGraw “Brothers of the Sun” tour stop in Charlotte grossed $3.4 million in ticket sales and drew 44,482, about 300 short of a sellout, according to Billboard Boxscore. The Panthers co-promoted the show with The Messina Group and AEG Live.

“It was a great event for Charlotte, the region and the stadium,” Morrison said. “We heard from both the talent and [Chesney tour producer] Louis Messina how much they liked the stadium.”

Will it be another 15 years before the next show? The Panthers will make decisions on future concerts on a case-by-case basis, Morrison said.

After the country show, the NFL team resodded a portion of the grass field on the stadium’s north end, where the stage had been set up.

The Panthers also will replace some turf after President Obama’s scheduled speech at the close of the Democratic National Convention accepting the party’s nomination, confirmed Scott Paul, the facility’s operations manager. That speech is set for Sept. 6 at the stadium.

PICKUPS: Legends Sales & Marketing has hired Shawn Kuzmin to run the Florida Panthers’ Club Red project, the new center ice club at BankAtlantic Center in suburban Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Kuzmin was most recently senior vice president of sales and service for Palace Sports & Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons.

On a related note, Bill Goren is the Pistons’ new senior director of ticket sales overseeing season tickets and premium seats at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Goren held the same title for seven of his 12 seasons with the Houston Astros.

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

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