SBJ/July 23-29, 2012/Facilities

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  • How are Harry Potter’s talking newspaper, Eagles tickets alike?

    Don Muret
    The Philadelphia Eagles are using technology to bring a new dimension to their season tickets.

    The visual recognition technology, developed by Aurasma, brings a static image to life with video activated through a mobile application.

    “It’s quasi-Harry Potter-ish,” said Tim McDermott, the team’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, describing the technology.
    The Eagles adopted the technology, also known as augmented reality, after talking with officials from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which became the first newspaper in the U.S. using Aurasma to generate videos connected to its photographs.

    The technology is already in use by the San Jose Earthquakes, whose fans can scan a logo and see a video.
    Photo by: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
    Working with their clients, Aurasma places what the firm calls “trigger images” on a printed product. When scanned by a smartphone or tablet using the application, those triggers produce a video, without the use of QR codes or radio frequency identification tags.

    The technology is available through the free Aurasma Lite application or it can be embedded into a separate application, which is what the Eagles are doing this year, McDermott said.

    The Eagles see the technology as a fan engagement tool and decided to use it for all season tickets distributed for the 10 games at Lincoln Financial Field, McDermott said. The video activation on the tickets for the Sept. 30 game against the New York Giants, for example, will feature a Brian Dawkins highlight reel. The former Eagles defensive back’s No. 20 jersey will be retired that day.

    The Eagles can change the videos at any time, he said.

    To activate the video, season-ticket holders must download the Eagles’ team application on their device, locate and tap the “Augmented Reality” tab in the Fan Zone section and wave it over the artwork on the ticket. There are instructions on the ticket artwork for how to use the application. In addition, the Eagles will email season-ticket holders to tell them about the concept, McDermott said.

    In the future, McDermott can see the Eagles generating revenue by using the technology to bring a sponsor’s advertisement to life in the game program, but he said it is not something the team is focused on at this point.

    The Eagles are the first NFL club to use the technology but are not the first big league team to use it.

    In Major League Soccer, the San Jose Earthquakes signed a deal in March with Aurasma to use its stand-alone app for fan engagement. Every time a fan opens the app and uses a mobile device to scan the team’s logo, whether it’s a poster or a refrigerator magnet, an Earthquakes promotional video pops up. Those videos are changed monthly, said team spokesman Frank Stranzl.

    The Earthquakes found out about the technology through Tottenham Hotspur, the English Premier League team with which they have a partnership, said Dave Kaval, San Jose’s president. Aurasma is Tottenham’s jersey sponsor for Premier League games.

    UNITED AT AAC: The Dallas Stars have signed Gameday Merchandising to a five-year deal to run their merchandise operation at American Airlines Center.

    The Denver firm already manages the Mavericks’ retail at the arena’s team store in a separate five-year deal it signed with the NBA team before the 2011-12 season.

    By adding the Stars, Gameday takes over all aspects of team store operations, including purchasing, stocking inventory, sales and accounting, for most arena events.

    The exception is for third-party events such as NCAA basketball and concerts. Center Operating Co., the arena management firm co-owned by the Mavs and Stars, retains control of the retail operation for those dates.

    Last season, with multiple retail agreements in place between the two clubs and Center Operating Co., the arena operator ran the team store under Gameday’s supervision. Gameday will employ retail workers previously hired by the arena and the Stars.

    “This is much easier,” said Brad Mayne, Center Operating Co.’s president and CEO. “It was a smart move on the teams’ part.”

    With both teams under contract, Gameday Merchandising has committed to investing in arena retail upgrades and to work with Adidas and Reebok, exclusive suppliers for the NBA and NHL, respectively, to install new fixtures and displays to improve the fan experience, said Alan Fey, Gameday’s president.

    It will be similar to what Gameday has done at Nationals Park after taking over the ballpark’s merchandise this season, Fey said.

    In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Gameday’s deal with the Stars covers four Dr Pepper StarCenter Pro Shop stores, which sell hockey equipment in addition to Stars apparel. It is Gameday’s first venture into the sporting goods side of the business, Fey said.

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

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  • Loge boxes planned for Xcel Energy Center

    The Minnesota Wild is investing about $1 million to build new loge boxes at Xcel Energy Center, the arena’s first major structural upgrade since it opened in 2000.

    The NHL team is replacing about 100 regular club seats — the three middle sections in the arena’s west end, where the Wild shoots twice — with 24 four-person loge boxes tied to a Scandinavian theme with high-end stone countertops and upscale wood dining chairs.

    The 24 four-person boxes, shown in a rendering, will replace about 100 regular club seats.
    Image by: MINNESOTA WILD AND GENERATOR STUDIO
    The new premium-seat product is an all-inclusive package priced at $48,000 to $53,000 annually. The fee covers the cost of tickets for all Wild games and most other events, plus a buffet meal, soft drinks, and beer and wine served in a lounge behind the seats. Hard liquor is a separate cost.

    Bud Light has naming rights to the revamped space as part of a three-year renewal with the Wild, said Carin Anderson, the team’s vice president of corporate sponsorship and retail management. Anderson would not disclose the value of the renewal.

    The brewer and the team have not decided on a formal name for the loge boxes and are using the Bud Light Terrace as a working title, Anderson said. Anheuser-Busch, Bud Light’s parent company, receives loge seats for all events to entertain clients.

    Bud Light will have a sign at the front door of the lounge leading to the loge boxes and two structural columns will be themed for Bud Light and will be visible in the seating bowl, said Tom Proebstle, a partner with Generator Studio, architect of record for the project.

    Bud Light’s renewal extends to the Iron Range Grill, a hockey-themed sports bar on the main concourse. It will be rebranded as the Bud Light Blue Line Bar, Anderson said.

    The sponsorship extension with Bud Light and the need to develop a third premium-seat option drove the loge box project, Anderson said. The arena opened with 74 suites and 3,000 club seats, and the Wild has seen attrition on the club level over the past few years, she said.

    By comparison, Xcel Energy Center’s suites average $180,000 a year and club seats cost $3,300 to $3,740 as a season ticket with first right to buy tickets for other events. For both products, food and drink is an additional cost with the exception of the “on the glass” seats in the lower bowl.

    After researching what other NHL facilities have done with midpriced premium-seat retrofits, including TD Garden’s AT&T Sports Deck in Boston and Verizon Center’s Acela Club in Washington, D.C., the Wild made the decision to construct loge boxes.

    “The building is 12 years old and we had nothing in between,” Anderson said. “Honestly, we have not kept up with the trends of premium-seat options. The loge concept is different than anything else now that you can buy, and we felt this market doesn’t have much of it.”

    As of last week, the Wild had just started marketing the loge boxes and had already sold five units to existing season-ticket holders, she said.

    In addition to tickets and food and drink, the loges come with the game-day use of iPads, an upgrade over the small mounted TV screens that have historically been a loge box amenity in other major league arenas.

    Those patrons can use the tablets to tap into the Wild’s team application and mywild.net, an internal website available only in the arena, said Jim Ibister, the club’s vice president of facility administration.

    To provide added value for loge box holders, the Wild can customize tablets for companies that buy a loge box by installing the firm’s mobile application and its logo as the screen saver, Ibister said.

    3M, a Minnesota firm, is supplying a new LED lighting product in the lounge, and Cambria, another local company, is making the countertop surfaces from a synthetic product made of granite and marble, Proebstle said. Mortenson is the general contractor.

    The loge boxes will open Sept. 26 for the Wild’s first preseason game.

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