SBJ/October 8-14, 2012/Facilities

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  • Turner choosing not to compete for Vikings stadium job

    Don Muret

    A leading builder of NFL stadiums will not pursue the job to construct a new $975 million facility for the Minnesota Vikings. Turner Construction, general contractor for the San Francisco 49ers’ $1.2 billion stadium under construction in Santa Clara, has decided not to compete for the Vikings deal, said Dale Koger, vice president and general manager of Turner’s sports group.

    “There are other opportunities running concurrent with the Vikings’ procurement that appear more viable and attractive to us,” Koger said.

    Over the past 16 years, outside of the 49ers’ project, Turner has built new stadiums in Philadelphia, Seattle, Denver, Cleveland and Charlotte, and done major renovations at NFL venues in Kansas City, Chicago, Green Bay, Washington and Jacksonville.

    In Minneapolis-St. Paul, Mortenson dominates the sports landscape. The locally based contractor built Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium, Xcel Energy Center and Target Center for the Twins, Golden Gophers, Wild and Timberwolves, respectively. As a result, Mortenson, which competes nationally for sports construction jobs and built the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, is considered the prohibitive favorite to win the Vikings job.

    HKS has done preliminary renderings for the new stadium in Minneapolis, where builder Mortenson has worked on all recent major league projects.
    Rendering: HKS SPORT & ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

    Under those circumstances, deciding whether to compete for the project is a tough call to make for general contractors operating outside of Minnesota, considering their expenses can run from $100,000 to more than $250,000 for the overall pursuit of an NFL project.

    Officials with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the group managing stadium development in conjunction with the Vikings, say there will be a level playing field for selecting a construction manager.

    For example, they point to the joint decision to hire HKS as the stadium architect in a market where Populous designed Target Field, Xcel Energy Center and TCF Bank Stadium.

    “There is no slam dunk for Mortenson,” said Jennifer Hathaway, the authority’s spokeswoman.

    Four years ago, Mortenson and HKS were selected separately to provide a cost analysis of the “Metrodome Next” study tied to a $954 million renovation of the Vikings’ current home. Those decisions were made by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the Vikings’ landlord.

    Mortenson won that job over a joint venture of Turner, Hunt Construction and Kraus-Anderson, a local firm. The study went nowhere after Minnesota legislators defeated two stadium bills before passing a new bill in May.

    Hunt, a builder of 14 NFL stadiums, is evaluating its options and will wait until the proposal on the Vikings’ project is issued before making a decision, said Ken Johnson, Hunt’s executive vice president and division manager.

    The same is true for Skanska USA, said Tom Tingle, the firm’s senior vice president and national sports director. Skanska built MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, the NFL’s newest facility, plus NFL stadiums in Nashville, Houston and Atlanta.

    Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs and stadium development, said, “Just like the architect selection, the construction manager selection will be a fair and open process.”

    The authority was scheduled to meet last week to discuss the process and timing of the construction manager’s selection, Bagley said.

    > PHISH FARM: Kroenke Sports Enterprises generated concert-related income beyond the typical revenue streams during Phish’s three-night stand at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park over Labor Day weekend.

    Kroenke Sports, owner of the Colorado Rapids, set up a temporary campground on six soccer fields next to the MLS facility. Camping fees were $180 to $200 and there were a little less than 4,000 campers, said Dave Jolette, Kroenke Sports’ senior vice president of venue operations.

    Food vendors paid a small fee to feed campers, and the Rapids provided lawn bocce, flying discs and other games for Phish Heads to pass the time between shows.

    “We have created a nice comfort level for those fans that pull in Friday at noon,” Jolette said. “They have green grass to play on all day long.”

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

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  • Paciolan providing ticketing platform for IMG Tickets

    Paciolan has signed an eight-year deal with IMG Tickets to provide a full-service ticketing platform for the Florida company.

    IMG Tickets is a regional ticketing distributor based in Coral Gables, Fla., that handles ticketing for 20 events. Several are in golf and tennis, including the Sony Open, the BB&T Atlanta Open, the New Haven Open at Yale and the Travelers Championship.

    Under the terms of the deal, Paciolan keeps a share of revenue for each ticket IMG Tickets sells online, said Bill Pierce, IMG Tickets’ vice president of ticketing.

    IMG Tickets, which previously worked with AudienceView, switched vendors because Paciolan provides the company with the ability to create a richer experience for consumers buying tickets online with branded messages customized for each event, Pierce said.

    The services Paciolan provides extend to print-at-home tickets and mobile scanning of tickets at the venues where IMG Tickets operates. The list covers tennis centers and golf courses as well as parks and beaches for food and wine festivals in New York and Miami.

    IMG Tickets had print-at-home capabilities with its prior vendors but did not use the technology, Pierce said.

    “The biggest difference is the confidence in [Paciolan’s] access control scanning platform, which coincides with using print-at-home tickets,” he said.

    IMG Tickets is a division of sports marketer IMG, which has owned the ticketing distributor for seven years. Most of the events IMG Tickets has deals with are not affiliated with IMG corporate. The exceptions are the Bank of the West Classic tennis tournament and the PGA Tour’s Deutsche Bank Championship, both IMG properties.

    Pierce has worked for the ticketing distributor since 1991, when he served as ticket manager for the former Lipton International Players Championships, now the Sony Open.

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  • Tech lets ticketed fans upgrade to better seats

    Major league teams are adopting new technology allowing fans who have already bought tickets to upgrade their seats.

    Several tech vendors are marketing mobile Web platforms through which fans can use their smartphones to move to better locations in the stadium at reduced prices. The technology helps teams move unsold inventory, resell seats left empty by no-shows and capture data on ticket buyers and their seating preferences, according to clubs using the systems.

    The Los Angeles Galaxy, an early adopter, has generated revenue of $750 to $1,200 a game this season by selling seat upgrades through Experience, an Atlanta-based company, said Kelly Cheeseman, AEG Sports’ senior vice president of ticket sales and service.

    In addition, Experience has deals with the San Jose Earthquakes and Chicago Fire from MLS; Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics of the NBA; MLB’s Atlanta Braves; and the University of Tennessee. Company investors include Pat Battle, formerly with IMG and the Collegiate Licensing Co., and Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.

    The Galaxy consistently sells the 75 to 100 tickets it reserves for seat upgrades at Home Depot Center after testing the program in 2011, Cheeseman said.

    Most upgrades are tied to club seats and field-side seats regularly priced at $125 and $200 a game, he said. The discounts agreed to by the Galaxy and Experience, depending on the game and tickets already sold, typically run from $5 to $50 in additional costs for the ticket buyer.

    Pogoseat is testing its service at Stanford.
    To make those upgrades available, the Galaxy removes inventory not projected to sell from Axs, its ticketing system, and transfers it to Experience’s system. The day before a game, Experience sends emails to all fans that have already bought tickets, alerting them to the availability of seat upgrades. Those interested register online and complete a short survey on their seating preferences before being placed in a virtual queue tied to their choices. The Galaxy has averaged 300 requests a game for seat upgrades, Cheeseman said.

    Those fans receive an email with a link to the upgrade. Fans choosing to upgrade pay by credit card on their smartphone and receive a message allowing them to validate the purchase, said Experience President Ben Ackerman. The mobile screen serves as their new ticket.

    In San Jose, the Earthquakes use Experience to resell the seats of no-shows as well as to move unsold inventory on game days at Buck Shaw Stadium, said team President Dave Kaval. In general, 10 to 50 seats are sold as upgrades, Kaval said.

    Elsewhere, Pogoseat, a newer startup, is testing a similar service at Stanford University football games this fall with an eye toward using it to resell seats for men’s basketball games at Maples Pavilion. The Pac-12 school has no-show issues with donor seats going unoccupied for lesser opponents and wants to fill those locations, said Dave Sertich, a business strategy analyst with Stanford athletics. To date, no deal has been signed, Sertich said. The tests are being done with a Web-based platform as Pogoseat develops a mobile application for future use, said Evan Owens, Pogoseat’s co-founder and CEO.

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