SBJ/March 4-10, 2013/Facilities

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  • StubHub takes naming rights at Home Depot Center

    Ticket reseller StubHub has signed a six-year naming-rights deal with AEG for Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

    Starting June 1, StubHub Center will be the new name of the multisport complex, owned and operated by AEG. The property, which includes a 27,000-seat MLS stadium and Olympic training facilities for tennis, track and field and bicycle racing, formally relaunches as StubHub Center on June 19, the date of the Los Angeles Galaxy-Portland Timbers game.

    “This is the exclamation point on the efforts we’ve made over the last 10 years to basically weave ourselves into the fabric of the sports and entertainment industry,” said Danielle Maged, StubHub’s global head of partnerships and business development.

    Home Depot bought naming rights to the complex in 2003, the year that it opened. The Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA call it home.
    Photo by: AEG
    StubHub and AEG officials refused to discuss the financial terms or the length of the agreement, but sources put the deal’s length at six years.

    Shervin Mirhashemi, president of AEG Global Partnerships, said the value is greater than that of the deal Home Depot signed in 2003 when the facility opened. The old agreement carried a value of $70 million over 10 years.

    The StubHub Center deal could surpass $10 million annually based on the Los Angeles media market and all the inventory AEG brings to the table as the vendor’s partner, said Chris Lencheski, president of Front Row Marketing, a firm that sells naming rights for teams and venues.

    Lencheski did not have specific details on the agreement and was commenting purely as an observer.

    For StubHub, a 13-year-old firm co-founded by two Stanford University students, putting its name on a sports facility represents another milestone for the company and the secondary ticketing industry in general, given the national exposure it will generate at the MLS stadium.

    The naming-rights deal also gives StubHub exclusive marketing assets for the AEG-owned Galaxy, marking the company’s first partnership with an MLS team.

    Home Depot Center is also home to Chivas USA. As a result, StubHub now forges a direct connection to the thousands of Spanish-speaking soccer fans attending Chivas home games.

    “They don’t get the prime dates, but their audience is as loyal as anyone,” Lencheski said.

    Without knowing the financials and deal points, it is difficult to say how deep StubHub must dig into its pockets for naming rights to the 125-acre property.

    The deal comes on the heels of a massive global partnership that eBay, StubHub’s parent firm, announced in November, making StubHub the official ticket reseller for all AEG venues worldwide, including Staples Center.

    Under those terms, StubHub replaced Home Depot as a founding partner at Staples Center with marketing assets at L.A. Live, the entertainment district AEG developed across the street from the arena.

    StubHub was the only company AEG talked to for naming rights, and the deal closed about one month after the subject was first brought up during the ticketing talks, Mirhashemi said. In that sense, the negotiations were smoother compared with other seven-figure naming rights, which can take a year or more from start to finish.

    Mirhashemi stressed that there was separation between the deals and that the title sponsorship
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    stands apart from its ticketing and marketing agreements with AEG as a whole.

    “I don’t think many people realize that StubHub is one of the largest sponsors in sports and entertainment,” he said. “It’s probably not talked about that much, their involvement in this space. This is a pure naming-rights deal.”

    But the deals do cross over. StubHub plans to share data with AEG regarding Staples Center and StubHub Center as the two groups work together to better understand the experience of fans and event goers, Maged said.

    StubHub is based in San Francisco, and Southern California is critical for the company as it relates to brand exposure at the arena and the stadium and “working with AEG the way we wanted to work with them,” she said.

    The process began in September, soon after Home Depot decided not to renew its deal, Mirhashemi said. AEG Global Partnerships officials compiled a short list of firms they thought would be interested in taking over naming rights.

    About the same time, StubHub and AEG were negotiating their secondary ticketing deal, and as the conversations deepened, the topic of naming rights came up through a natural progression, said officials from both sides.

    “We literally picked one partner and took them to the finish line,” Mirhashemi said. “They embraced it very quickly, and then we went and worked toward getting it to completion.”

    Nick Baker, AEG Global Partnerships’ director of sales, worked with Mirhashemi to sell naming rights to StubHub and was instrumental in getting the deal done, Mirhashemi said.

    On the buy side, StubHub did the deal in-house, led by Maged; Geoff Lester, managing director of partnerships and business development; Chief Marketing Officer Ray Elias; and Chief Legal Officer Lance Lanciault.

    As of last week, Maged said it was too early to share details for how the vendor will activate its deal at StubHub Center. The company has hired CAA Sports Consulting, a group headed by Greg Luckman, to help develop concepts related to activation.

    “We’re going to have something that’s organic and changes in the venue itself with a focus on the fan,” Maged said. “We are all about the fan, so whatever we do is going to be compelling. That’s what we’re working with CAA to come up with.”

    StubHub is the first ticketing company to put its name on a major league sports facility, according to SportsBusiness Journal research.

    Over the past decade, StubHub has become the leading online ticket reseller, signing ticketing and sponsorship deals with Major League Baseball, ESPN, Barclays Premier League teams, and individual clubs in the NFL, NBA, NHL and now MLS.

    As StubHub has expanded its business both domestically and overseas, it has become first choice to buy tickets for some fans searching for secondary bargains over full-priced tickets sold on team sites. It’s a dynamic that has upset some big league teams, to the point that the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels pulled out of the StubHub-MLB deal when it was renewed in December.

    As both AEG and StubHub continue to expand internationally, Mirhashemi said there could be more opportunities for the ticket reseller to put its name on arenas and stadiums that AEG runs overseas.

    “We wouldn’t have gone with StubHub unless we felt they were a trusted brand in the consumers’ eyes,” Mirhashemi said. “It was a natural fit.”

    Most recent active naming-rights deals at MLS-only stadiums

    Stadium City Company Total cost No. of years Avg. annual value Expires Announced
    (stadium opened)
    BBVA Compass Stadium Houston BBVA Compass $20 million 10 $2.0 million 2021 Dec. 2011
    (May 2012)
    Jeld-Wen Field Portland Jeld-Wen NA NA NA NA March 2011
    (April 2011)
    PPL Park Chester, Pa. PPL Corp. $20 million 11 $1.81 million 2020 Feb. 2010
    (June 2010)
    Rio Tinto Stadium Sandy, Utah Rio Tinto Group $22.5 million-$30.0 million 15 $1.5-2.0 million 2023 Sept. 2008
    (Oct. 2008)
    Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Commerce City, Colo. Dick’s Sporting Goods $30 million 15 $2.0 million 2021 Nov. 2006
    (April 2007)
    BMO Field Toronto Bank of Montreal $23.7 million 10 $2.37 million 2016 Sept. 2006
    (April 2007)

    NA: Not available
    Source: SportsBusiness Journal research

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  • Moving in outfield fences gives Padres room for new seating

    Don Muret
    The San Diego Padres have developed two new seating products at Petco Park, including a revamped space behind the right-field wall driven by the team’s attempt to generate more offense at the ballpark.

    As part of a plan to reduce the field dimensions and create game situations that “play a little more fair” to the hitters, the Padres are moving the outfield fences 11 feet closer to home plate, said Tom Garfinkel, the team’s president and CEO.

    To fill the space left by that shift, the Padres signed a deal with North Carolina-based seating vendor 4Topps to install 14 four-seat tables just behind the right-field fence.

    The Padres saw a need to develop a greater number of seating options to accommodate different segments of the market, Garfinkel said. “Up to now, we have had a huge gap in our price points,” he said. “The key is to try to create new and unique experiences for the fans.”

    New tables, shown in a rendering, will sit just behind the right-field wall.
    Photo: SAN DIEGO PADRES
    In addition to the 56 seats, there are seven high-top tables with two chairs each behind the 4Topps tables and standing room for 10 people, Padres spokeswoman Shana Wilson said. All told, the area can accommodate 80 fans.

    As of last week, ticket prices for that space had not been established. The Padres expect to sell the 4Topps tables to groups as an all-inclusive package and as individual game tickets, Garfinkel said.

    The new seats are slightly elevated above the field, but far enough away that outfielders jumping at the wall should not have to worry about fans grabbing the fly ball.

    “We stood there and reached out [toward the field] and made it long enough to avoid fan interference,” Garfinkel said.
     
    A portion of the new right-field wall is an LED display, providing the Padres with digital billboard space to generate revenue. Scoreboard maker Daktronics and Sony teamed up to produce the 105-foot-long, 7-foot-high electronic sign with a 14-foot-long strip carved out for live video.

    A new LED ribbon board in the upper deck in right field will serve as the new out-of-town scoreboard, which last season was on the old right-field wall.

    Across the outfield, the walls are all 8 feet tall now. “Right field was a few feet higher before but we made it the same as left field so [outfielders] Will Venable and Cameron Maybin can steal home runs,” Garfinkel said.

    Elsewhere in the park, the Padres removed the last two sections of seats directly behind the Home Plate Club section and built five four-person boxes and one two-person box. Those six boxes, sold as all-inclusive season-ticket packages, cover the cost of food, beer and wine, plus in-seat service, one parking pass and access to the Omni Premier Club. The design of those boxes, which have a small counter space in front of the seats to store food and drink and a small television screen, is more typical of a loge box in an arena setting compared with a ballpark.

    Padres officials refused to disclose ticket prices for the private boxes, but they’ll also meet the team’s need for more midpriced premium inventory it can price between $45 and $300 a game.

    Garfinkel would not disclose the cost of the upgrades, but he said the 4Topps seats should pay for themselves after the first year of ticket sales.

    Petco Park opened in 2004 and enters its 10th season of operation.

    > SMALL WORLD: Global Spectrum has signed a five-year deal with Stadium Brasil Arenas to pursue management deals for arenas and stadiums in Brazil.

    Stadium Brasil Arenas is a joint venture between Lusoarenas, a Portuguese facility developer, and Traffic Sports, a 30-year-old sports marketing firm in Latin America. The three companies have joined forces to seek new business in Brazil, mostly tied to the new facilities being built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in that country. Under terms of the agreement, the joint venture pays Global Spectrum a fee for its services, said Mich Sauers, Global’s senior vice president of business development.

    Collectively, the two international firms have developed relationships with almost all of the World Cup stadiums under construction, which will help Global Spectrum in its attempts to secure new business, Sauers said.

    “There are a lot of things percolating around World Cup,” he said. “In the meantime, the light bulb has gone off — ‘What do we do with these buildings afterward?’ They are not prepared to deliver the services and experience required to sustain these facilities.”

    Depending on the nature of proposed deals, the partnership could extend to Global Spectrum’s four sister companies — Ovations Food Services, New Era Tickets, Paciolan and Front Row Marketing — operating concessions, ticketing and marketing at the Brazilian venues, Sauers said.

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

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  • Giants’ improvements at AT&T Park include wireless network boost, suite renovations

    The San Francisco Giants are boosting AT&T Park’s technology again to stay ahead of demands by users of mobile devices.

    Fresh off winning their second World Series title in three years, the Giants are also renovating 60 suites, building two new Dugout Store retail locations, squeezing in 35 new seats near the press box and developing a new Social Media Command Center.

    Giants fans uploading photos and videos set mobile data traffic records for AT&T Park at last year’s World Series. 
    Photo: GETTY IMAGES
    After smashing records for mobile data traffic during last season’s championship run, the Giants developed a two-year plan to improve the wireless experience at a stadium already recognized for being on the cutting edge of mobile technology.

    The first phase of the project will double the number of wireless access points in the lower bowl to 700 this season, said Bill Schlough, the team’s senior vice president and chief information officer. Next year, more access points will be added to the upper deck.

    The total cost for those tech upgrades, between $5 million and $10 million, is being shared with AT&T, the stadium’s naming-rights holder, he said. Over the past five years, the two parties have invested about $15 million to improve technology.

    The Giants continue to see data demand skyrocket among fans using smartphones and tablets at the 41,500-seat facility, where they enjoy a consecutive sellout streak dating to Oct. 1, 2010.

    Last year, an average of 30 percent of Giants fans, about 12,000 people a game, connected to the park’s Wi-Fi network during the regular season. The numbers were nearly double the average of 17 percent during the 2011 regular season, Schlough said.

    In the 2012 postseason, mobile usage peaked at 40 percent during Game 2 of the World Series, when fans used an enormous 433 gigabytes of data, driven by photo and video sharing. Bandwidth use during the regular season was in the range of 175 gigabytes, he said.

    In addition, the majority of AT&T Park’s suites are being remodeled for the first time since the facility opened in 2000.
    To create a better connection between the interior space and seats in the bowl, the Giants are changing the window system, moving from fixed glass to a “stack and slide” setup for greater communication among suite patrons, said Alfonso Felder, senior vice president of facilities.

    Space in some suites will increase with new vaulted ceilings, and expanded counter space will be equipped with induction cooking surfaces. As part of the tech upgrades, all suites will now have charging stations for up to four mobile devices, Felder said.

    A new Dugout Store is under construction in the left-field corner, and a smaller destination selling game-used apparel and equipment will be placed behind home plate.

    The reconfiguration of a pedestrian ramp provided space to install 35 seats to be sold for individual games, Felder said.

    The Social Command Media Center, a central location for all the Giants’ social media efforts on game days, is targeted for a space in the Fan Lot in left-center field, but it will not be ready until a few weeks into the regular season, he said.

    Most of the ballpark upgrades should be completed by March 17, the date of the World Baseball Classic semifinal at AT&T Park.

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