SBJ/September 3-9, 2012/Franchises

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  • Cavs rethink scorer’s table with ads in mind

    The Cleveland Cavaliers will roll out a newly designed scorer’s table that team officials hope will dramatically boost the amount of television exposure for courtside advertisers.

    The new design, pending league approval, eliminates the Cavaliers’ 40-foot scorer’s table used last season and replaces it with a 24-foot table at center court along with two 8-foot tables near the team benches.

    The tentative new configuration was made to increase the amount of television exposure given to courtside advertisers, which in turn will lead to higher rates charged by the team to sponsors.

    “One of the goals when I got here was to increase value to our sponsors by making sure we can offer more broadcast exposure,” said Brad Sims, senior vice president and chief revenue officer for the Cavaliers, who joined the team in June.

    Sims, who came to the Cavaliers from the NBA’s team marketing and business operations division, believes that the Cavs’ new scorer’s table configuration will allow for more television exposure because most NBA action on television is seen in a half-court set.

    Last year, the Cavaliers averaged about 4,300 seconds a game of TV exposure for courtside sponsors, but this year the team plans to increase average courtside exposure to more than 5,000 seconds a game.

    The Cavs have not yet increased prices for courtside advertising, but rate hikes are expected once the team is able to track metrics from the system.

    “Over time, teams have shortened their scorer’s table with the belief that there are more incremental dollars from the addition of ‘Hollywood’ seats,” Sims said. “It was eye-opening to me that some teams have tables that are too short [to maximize] exposure when the game is in a half-court set.”

    The newly designed scorer’s table will shift the home and visiting teams’ television announcers to the new 8-foot tables while adding four more courtside seats. In addition, the current “Hollywood” seats in Quicken Loans Arena next to the team benches now will be moved eight feet closer to center court, allowing the team to potentially charge more for the relocated inventory, Sims said.

    The Cavs’ courtside redesign is similar to changes made by the Boston Celtics a few years ago when they put signs at the ends of the team benches. The Cavaliers are putting their new tables much closer to center court for what they say brings more visible television advertising.

    “It is a hybrid between a 60-foot table like at Madison Square Garden and what Boston has done,” Sims said, “We ended up with a modified version that we are excited about.”

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  • 7Up partners with Earthquakes

    The San Jose Earthquakes have signed 7Up Bottling, a subsidiary of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, as the first founding partner for the team’s new stadium. The six-year deal is for mid-six figures annually, according to an industry source.

    The sponsorship is scheduled to be announced Tuesday. The stadium is expected to open in 2014; its official groundbreaking is set for Oct. 21.

    The beverage company will be a founding partner at the soccer club’s new stadium.
    “We were determined to get at least one founding partner done before we even broke ground,” said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. “7Up is a great partner for us, and they know that we deliver on our activations.”

    The Earthquakes’ relationship with the company began in March 2011, when 7Up Bottling received exclusive pouring rights for its brands, including Snapple, A&W, Sunkist, RC Cola and Deja Blue Water, at the team’s current venue, Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

    As a founding partner at the new stadium in San Jose, 7Up will receive exclusive rights in the carbonated soft drink, iced tea and water categories. It also will be the presenting sponsor of the new venue’s Earthquakes’ Fan Zone. In addition, the team and sponsor are creating a recycling program for game days and will continue their A&W Root Beer Float Nights, through which more than $15,000 has been raised for local charities over the past two seasons. Before games, local celebrities make root beer floats for fans in return for voluntary donations.

    “It’s an exciting time in the Earthquakes’ history,” said James Fox, general manager of 7Up Bottling. “We wanted to be part of the fantastic fan experience the new stadium will bring.”

    Kaval said the Earthquakes plan to have a total of eight founding partners of the stadium, adding that the club is in “active negotiations with major corporations” for naming rights of the facility.

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  • Despite labor uncertainty, Florida Panthers adding to staff

    At a time when NHL clubs are more likely to be considering cutbacks in staff or compensation, the Florida Panthers are hiring.

    Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, which controls the Panthers and the team’s BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., has reorganized its corporate sponsorship department. As part of the restructuring, six staffers were reassigned to new responsibilities and four new employees were hired.

    SSE President Michael Yormark said the uncertainty of a finalized collective-bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association before the deal’s Sept. 15 expiration did not affect his decision to add staff.

    “We’re going to activate these [sponsors’] brands with or without hockey games,” Yormark said. “We’re going to activate them around special events, grassroots marketing campaigns, and concerts and shows. My decision to expand this department has nothing to do with what Gary Bettman and Bill Daly [NHL commissioner and deputy commissioner] are negotiating. It has to do with the commitment that we’ve made to our partners to make sure we’re giving them a return on their investment.”

    The Panthers’ news comes on the heels of the Calgary Flames, considering the Sept. 15 CBA deadline, announcing recently that they have notified some staffers to expect pay cuts beginning as early as Sept. 16. If no new CBA is reached, more teams are likely to follow suit.

    Florida’s revamped corporate sponsorship staff consists of a senior director of brand strategy, four executive directors of strategic partnerships, two directors of new business development, a director of lead generation, a manager of partnership services and a manager of legal services.

    Among the staff changes, the Panthers used to rely on the team’s legal counsel to review sponsorship contracts, a system that Yormark said slowed the overall process. He designated Robert Karpeles, a recent law school graduate who had been working for the Panthers as a salesman, as manager of legal services, so the corporate sponsorship team now has a lawyer dedicated to its needs.

    Yormark also was impressed by the work ethic of Roman Gorodetskiy, a former intern with the club who became his assistant. Last week, Gorodetskiy was named to the new position of director of lead generation.

    “Roman has done a terrific job for us in everything we’ve thrown his way,” Yormark said. “He has a real knack for finding new leads. His role allows our salespeople to stay focused on the process — not chasing leads.”

    Despite the threat of a delayed start to the season, the Panthers have had a solid summer off the ice. The business community has responded to the club qualifying for the playoffs last season for the first time since 2000, ending the league’s longest drought. Several partners, including Coca-Cola, MetroPCS and Jet Blue, were signed to multiyear deals. Ford was upsold to a sponsorship of all of the team’s social media initiatives. The automaker signed as a marketing partner in 2010 and has had an increasing role since then.

    The success has Yormark considering additional hires.

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  • New seats, signs for Wolves

    The Minnesota Timberwolves are adding floors seats, new LED courtside signs and new digital stanchion advertising inside the Target Center as the team looks to drive revenue during its summer selling season.

    The Wolves have added eight new courtside seats between the team benches priced at $29,670 each per season. The new seats come as the Wolves have sold out of all 120 existing floor seats ranging in price from $25,800 to $68,800 a season.

    With courtside seats sold out, Minnesota has added eight more at Target Center.
    Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
    In addition, the team has signed a two-year deal with ANC for a new courtside LED system. The LED signs will be tied not only into the scorer’s table inventory but also into new baseline LED signs as well as into the NBA’s latest digital inventory located on the two basket stanchions.

    “We were low on courtside inventory and we were sold out, so we have reformed everything,” said Timberwolves President Chris Wright.

    Wright would not disclose how much new revenue the courtside changes will generate, but said that demand for inventory has increased, with the team enjoying a 95 percent season-ticket renewal rate along with full-season-ticket sales of 9,000 with two months left during the offseason sales cycle. The Wolves so far have sold more than 2,000 new full-season packages.

    The courtside changes come while the team renovates and renames its suite-level space at the Target Center that has been known as Club Cambria. The Wolves are spending $150,000 to convert six suites into additional space for the club, increasing its capacity to 208 from 128 in time for the team’s preseason home opener Oct. 13. The upscale club includes fine food, a full bar and plush seating.

    The club will be called the Treasure Island Resort & Casino VIP Terrace under the terms of a three-year sponsorship renewal with Treasure Island Resort & Casino. Cambria Holdings’ naming-rights deal for the suite expired, but the company is in talks with the Wolves about the creation of a new Cambria-branded space in Target Center as part of a major renovation slated to begin next year.

    The Wolves wanted to expand the club this year because of strong demand for tickets there. The club’s 128 seats have sold out each of the past two years at a price of $4,644 a seat for season tickets.

    “As we looked at that space, we obviously see the opportunity to grow capacity,” Wright said.

    John Vomhof Jr., a writer for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, an affiliated publication, contributed to this report.

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