SBJ/September 17-23, 2012/Facilities

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  • SME Branding cooks up new image for the Legends brand

    Don Muret
    Legends Hospitality Management has completed a rebranding of the company’s image with a new logo, tag line and website launching today.

    Nine months after Dave Checketts took over as Legends’ chairman and CEO, the sports concessions and sales and marketing firm’s brand carries a bolder look. The new slogan, “Born From Performance,” tied to a blue-and-gray shield, reflects the strength and pride of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, project officials said. The two teams own Legends through a joint venture, along with investment bank Goldman Sachs and Checketts Partners Investment Fund.

    Checketts said one of his tasks was to redevelop a brand thrown together “very quickly at the inception of the company” in 2008.

    The company began with concessions accounts at new Yankee Stadium and Cowboys Stadium, which opened in 2009, and has grown its business substantially since then. Most of that growth has come on the sales side, where it has signed deals to sell premium seats for the 49ers, Jaguars and Jets, to name a few teams, plus Rose Bowl Stadium, Churchill Downs and a handful of NCAA Division I schools.

    Four months ago, Checketts hired SME Branding to develop Legends’ new logo and tag line. SME designed a new logo for Madison Square Garden during Checketts’ 10-year run as president of MSG in the 1990s that the arena still uses on the basketball floor and hockey ice.

    “Dave has a keen sense of the importance of the brand, and he wanted to take the next leap,” said Paul Sewards, SME Branding’s managing partner.

    SME came up with the new logo and tag line after conducting a series of workshops with Legends officials. Together, they developed a new image to essentially create a “new tone of voice” for a maturing brand supported by two legacy brands in the Cowboys and Yankees, Sewards said.

    “Long term, the new brand positions Legends for its next phase of growth and development,” he said.

    The blue-and-gray color scheme calls to mind the Cowboys’ colors. Simply put, “it’s my favorite color blue,” Checketts said, recalling his days with MSG as head of the Knicks and Rangers, two teams with blue as a dominant color, as well as BYU, where Checketts received an MBA.

    Madison Avenue Sports and Entertainment created Legends’ new website with video testimonials from 49ers executives Gideon Yu and Paraag Marathe, among other clients.

    The investment to rebrand was in the low six figures, Legends officials said.

    WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS: Cowboys Stadium, meanwhile, has influenced scoreboard design for NBA and NHL arenas.

    A rendering shows how the new center-hung scoreboard will rule the air in Indianapolis.
    Photo by: ANC SPORTS ENTERPRISES
    The Tampa Bay Lightning, Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets are all installing new center-hung boards measuring at least 50 feet long. Those boards, produced by three different companies, are mini-versions of the mammoth center-hung video board at the Cowboys’ home.

    Until this year, arena boards were much smaller, with the most recent trend being the center-hung’s “upside down chandelier look” with multiple layers of screens, said Jay Parker, Daktronics’ national sales manager.

    Daktronics made the Lightning’s new board, which the team said cost $5 million, after producing a center-hung board stretching 66 feet long at a new arena in Mexico City.

    In Indianapolis, ANC Sports developed the new center-hung board at Bankers Life Fieldhouse after Pacers owner Herb Simon saw the Cowboys Stadium board and said, “‘Why not put something like that inside our arena?’” said Jerry Cifarelli, ANC’s president and CEO.

    The Pacers’ board has a slight curve at its widest points to provide better sight lines for courtside seat holders sitting beneath the board. The smaller screens at both ends of the board are 14 feet tall and 25 feet wide, about the same size as traditional center-hung boards, Cifarelli said.

    In Houston, $15 million covered the Rockets’ new center-hung board made by Panasonic, a new control room to run the board, and Wi-Fi upgrades. The Pacers’ board, lumped together with a new sound system, cost $16 million.

    The cost of the newer boards is tied to technology. Higher-resolution, 6-millimeter boards have commonly replaced 10-millimeter LED screens at the major league level. In turn, teams can charge sponsors a higher rate for a better image quality, Parker said.

    “Is it a trend?” Cifarelli said. “It’s too early to say until we actually see it in action the first week of October.”

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

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  • Suns, city put $10M into US Airways Center

    The Phoenix Suns and the city of Phoenix are ponying up $10 million for renovations and repairs at US Airways Center.

    The city is covering $7 million and the Suns are paying $3 million, said Phoenix Finance Director Jeff DeWitt.

    The Suns are paying to replace some seats in the downtown Phoenix arena and to convert some luxury boxes into smaller theater boxes.

    DeWitt said the repairs being covered by the city are for wear and tear on the 20-year-old venue, including repairs to elevators and the roof, he said. The city also is making some changes to stay current on Americans With Disabilities Act requirements for public places.

    “Most of the improvements are infrastructure upgrades such as boilers and wiring, things that need to be repaired or replaced to keep the arena functioning properly,” said Suns Vice President Tanya Wheeless.

    “From a fan experience standpoint, we will be replacing a large number of seats in the upper and lower bowl areas,” she said. “We will also be adding more theater boxes, which have been well-received by the market as businesses look for a high-end, all-inclusive option to entertain business associates.”

    The Suns last season replaced eight large suites with 16 four-seat theater-type boxes, which share high-end buffet and bar areas. Wheeless said the new effort will include installation of seven additional theater-style boxes on the suite level of the 18,400-seat arena.

    The work is under way. The NBA’s regular season starts Oct. 31.

    The city owns the arena and leases it to the Suns, and the team acts as the building’s manager. The venue — one of the older NBA facilities — also is home to the AFL’s Arizona Rattlers and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

    The arena opened in 1992 and went through a $70 million upgrade in 2004.

    The Suns are coming off their second consecutive NBA season without making the playoffs and are rebuilding with the exits of Steve Nash and Grant Hill.

    DeWitt said the Suns have picked up greater shares of past arena construction projects, but the city is doing more this time around on the wear-and-tear improvements.

    The Phoenix Coyotes’ 3-year-old ownership saga in Glendale has sparked speculation that US Airways Center might be renovated to better accommodate hockey. When the Coyotes played at the Phoenix arena from 1996 to 2003, some seats had obstructed views. “There are no plans for that,” DeWitt said.

    Mike Sunnucks writes for the Phoenix Business Journal, an affiliated publication.

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