SBJ/April 1-7, 2013/Facilities

Austin track brings in amphitheater sponsors

Circuit of the Americas has signed two adult beverage companies and a grocery as founding partners for an amphitheater tied to the Formula One racetrack in Austin.

Anheuser-Busch and two regional brands, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and H-E-B supermarkets, have all signed multiyear deals with naming rights to destinations at the Austin360 Amphitheater, an outdoor music venue opening Friday with a Kenny Chesney concert.

The amphitheater was used for shows during last year’s F1 race while it was still being built.
Photo: CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS
Financial terms were not disclosed.

The three sponsorships center on the amphitheater itself, but also extend to the track with signs set along the road course in addition to print advertising and website inventory, among other assets, said Ben Cahalane, chief sales officer for Circuit of the Americas.

The amphitheater has 6,700 fixed seats and a general admission lawn area with total seating for 14,000 people. The venue sits inside Turns 16 through 18, behind the grand plaza near the front entrance.

Tito’s agreement with the track is a three-year deal, confirmed Nicole Portwood, brand manager for the 18-year-old Austin hard liquor distillery. The vodka maker will set up portable branded bars to the left of the amphitheater stage, in an area to be called Tito’s Handmade Vodka Porch, that can be taken apart and moved to other track locations.

For Tito’s, the amphitheater deal marks its most extensive partnership at a sports and entertainment facility, Portwood said.

Driving the deal was the importance for Tito’s to invest in things that improve quality of life in Austin, she said. The deal also exposes the Tito’s brand to a new audience of international patrons attending the annual F1 race in the fall and other motorsports at Circuit of the Americas.

In February, Tito’s signed a deal with AEG to supply its products at Staples Center, Citizens Business Bank Arena and Valley View Casino Center, three arenas in Southern California. Tito’s vodka is available in all 50 states, with Texas, New York and California its top three markets.

“Our blueprint is to partner with festivals and major venues to reach as many people as possible,” Portwood said. “We will be spending additional dollars with COTA for ticket giveaways for the [April 19-21] MotoGP event.”

H-E-B, based in San Antonio, receives naming rights for the H-E-B Lawn, the general admission area on a grass berm behind the fixed seats.

As part of its activation, the grocery will brand a VIP section with reserved seats installed on an elevated platform, Cahalane said. The seats will be distributed through seasonlong ticket promotions at H-E-B stores, he said.

Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light brand will be showcased on a beer bar set up in the lawn space.

As of last week, track officials were still working on a fourth founding partner tied to a VIP club at the amphitheater. The deal was not signed yet. The amphitheater is managed in a partnership with Live Nation and local promoter C3 Presents. To date, the venue has booked 12 concerts.

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