SBJ/Jan. 13-19, 2014/Facilities

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  • Populous expects College Football Playoff role to continue

    Don Muret
    The same group responsible for mapping the Super Bowl over the past 30 years will most likely be doing the same thing for the College Football Playoff’s new championship game in 2015.

    Populous has been consulting for the CFP’s first title game, set for Jan. 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium, said Jerry Anderson, founder and senior principal of the architect’s Denver-based event division. The group “will likely have a working role with them as they develop their event over the next year,” Anderson said. As of last week, no contract had been signed.

    Anderson’s 24-person group has expertise in organizing the logistical challenges facing large-scale events such as the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, NHL Winter Classic and MLB All-Star Game. All four events use Populous to help form a cohesive plan for all their activities.

    It’s Populous’ job to do the “overlay” for those events, the term Anderson uses to describe the master plan officials develop for operations, programming and the construction of temporary facilities supporting the permanent venues.
    “We put people on the ground at many of these events similar to Super Bowl to assist the owner and event operator,” he said.

    The CFP championship would be a new piece of work for Populous. The firm did not work with the BCS for its events, Anderson said.

    Another new piece of business for Populous’ event group is Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the track moves ahead with a $140 million renovation. It is working with Activate, the architect’s branding division, to help tie everything together at the sprawling complex.

    “What we’ve done is look quite a bit at crowd flow and used a lot of the techniques and experience we’ve gained from other events to work with them on how we can enhance the gates and movement,” Anderson said.

    In addition to all those events, Populous is working ahead to plan the next two Super Bowls in Phoenix and San Francisco, the five remaining NHL outdoor games this season, the 2014 Final Four at AT&T Stadium, the 2016 Olympics in Brazil and the 2014 MLB All-Star Game in Minnesota.

    “We have folks down in Rio and are working on an Olympic bid for the Ukraine,” Anderson said. “We have a very good runup of projects. It’s become a very robust part of Populous.”

    Populous’ event division staff is spread out among Denver, the firm’s home office in Kansas City and international offices in London and Brisbane. Anderson started the practice in Denver before Populous acquired his firm in 2002.

    > RAPID MOVEMENT:If you’re in the market to buy a Colorado Rapids-branded snowboard, there were 14 remaining for sale last week at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and on Altitude Authentics, the team’s retail website.

    The Colorado Rapids are selling branded snowboards produced by Never Summer.
    Photo: COURTESY OF COLORADO RAPIDS
    The spiffy-looking boards aren’t cheap. They sell for $550, the same price that the snowboard’s manufacturer, Never Summer, charges for the SL unit, its most popular board, said Wayne Brant, the Rapids’ director of marketing and fan development.

    The Rapids snowboards are an extension of the team’s Colorado for Life marketing campaign that began last year and extends into the 2014 season. It’s a pride thing in a region known for an active outdoor lifestyle.

    “You see as many state flags flying at our games as Rapids flags,” Brant said.

    The team bought 40 boards for $250 each and have sold six since Oct. 19, when they were unveiled during Fan Appreciation Night at the team’s final match of the 2013 season, Brant said. Twenty boards are in the hands of the team’s marketing department to use for promotions.

    “The goal wasn’t to make a ton of money from this,” he said. “Never Summer gave us a good deal.”

    Patrick Combs, art director for Kroenke Sports Enterprises, owner of the Rapids, served as graphic designer for the special-edition snowboards.

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

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  • Heat, nightclub partner SBE extend Hyde brand to AmericanAirlines Arena suite

    The Miami Heat and the team’s nightclub partner SBE have rebranded a regular skybox as the Hyde Suite at American-Airlines Arena.

    The redeveloped space, a 32-person suite situated on the Dewar’s Suite Level behind the basket on the east end, is an extension of the existing Hyde Lounge. The event-level club opened last season, with cover charges ranging from $50 to $200 depending on the event, and stays open two hours after Heat games. It’s become a popular gathering spot for the trendy South Beach crowd, driving the need to create another ultra-premium experience elsewhere in the arena, said Kim Stone, the arena’s executive vice president and general manager.

    Photo: COURTESY OF MIAMI HEAT
    “The good news for us is that we are at the height of demand and do not have a lot of excess inventory,” she said. “This was borne out of our desire with Hyde to expand that experience of über-luxury and bottle service.”

    The joint venture that runs both Hyde properties at the arena for SBE and the Heat invested $25,000 in upgrades to create an upscale feel for the Hyde Suite that includes snakeskin seat cushions containing the Hyde logo stitched in gold.

    The revamped space sells for $10,000 to $23,000 a game, based on the opponent, a package covering the cost of food and drink, including beer, wine, and alcohol. A personal bartender serves custom cocktails. The suite has 18 fixed seats and a communal table with bar stools overlooking the arena floor.

    The Hyde Suite is opposite stage end so it is available for concerts, Stone said. For those shows, the average ticket price is $250 a seat; food and drink is a separate fee. The suite stays open one hour after events, and those patrons also have access to the Hyde Lounge below.

    The joint venture books the suite under the direction of Richard Post, SBE’s general manager of both Hyde properties at the arena. To date, it’s been a 60-40 mix of rentals in favor of arena clients, but that is expected to change with more SBE bookings now that it’s fully branded, Stone said.

    Hollywood-based SBE runs the Hyde Beach club at its hotel in South Beach and is building another hotel in downtown Miami. As a result, it has built an extensive database of clients that it can steer to the arena to entertain guests for Heat games, Stone said.

    The Hyde-branded spaces in Miami follow sports’ original Hyde Lounge, which opened on the upper suite level at Staples Center in 2009.

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  • Ovations adds MLB, NFL accounts in Oakland

    Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

    Ovations Food Services is taking over all food service at O.co Coliseum after agreeing to a three-year deal with the Oakland Athletics.

    The two parties expect to sign a contract by next week, A’s President Mike Crowley said. The deal with Aramark for general concessions and premium dining expired at the end of the 2013.

    Ovations Food Services agreed to a three-year deal at O.co Coliseum.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    The A’s selected Ovations after the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, the stadium’s governing body issuing the proposal for a food provider, gave the MLB team final approval for choosing the concessionaire.

    The Raiders, the facility’s NFL tenant, were also involved in the process, Crowley said.

    “The contracts were up and we put them out to bid,” he said. “Ovations was very aggressive in their offer … financially and otherwise.”

    Ovations will make an investment as part of the deal, said Ken Young, the company’s president, but he declined to provide dollar figures.

    The 48-year-old coliseum stands alone as North America’s last dual-purpose stadium for MLB and NFL teams. It generates $27 million to $35 million annually in gross food and drink sales, according to industry sources.

    Crowley said another selling point for Ovations is that two of its vice presidents, Charlie Neary and Nick Nicora, live in Alameda County. Years ago, Nicora ran backstage catering for the late Bill Graham, the legendary Bay Area concert promoter.

    Both executives live within a 15-minute drive of the stadium and will have a supervisory role over the operation, Young said. Jay Satenspiel moves from his regional office in Albuquerque, N.M., to become Ovations’ on-site general manager in Oakland.

    For Ovations, a Comcast-Spectacor subsidiary, the coliseum represents its first MLB account outside of its five spring training clients since the company was founded in March 2000. The Raiders are the concessionaire’s second NFL client after the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    “It’s extremely important for us to show as a company how we can take an older operation, do an excellent job and serve our customers well, and show the rest of MLB and the NFL what we can do,” Young said.

    In addition, Ovations officials see the coliseum as a prime opportunity to get their foot in the door with the A’s and Raiders as the teams work independently to develop new stadiums, he said. No deals have been completed to build new facilities for both teams.

    The first coliseum event for Ovations is Jan. 25, the date of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross tour. The first A’s game is March 29, a preseason game against San Francisco.

    Oracle Arena sits next to O.co Coliseum and remains a Levy Restaurants account.

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  • Additional space in upper deck could create sponsored hangouts for Panthers fans

    The Carolina Panthers plan to develop new branded destinations in the upper deck at Bank of America Stadium, a project tied to the first phase of renovations at the 18-year-old facility.

    As part of the initial upgrades, a $65 million project, the Panthers have about 10,000 square feet of new space to program on the 500 level after the stadium walls are pushed out by 28 feet to build 12 escalators for improved circulation in the building.

    The upper-deck work is among improvements planned for the 18-year-old stadium.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    The team’s vision is to create new hangouts for fans sitting in the cheap seats to buy a beer and grab a bite to eat before, during and after the game while they watch the Panthers on television, as well as out-of-market games on the NFL RedZone Channel.

    Those new decks, designed at the top of each escalator bay, most likely will be converted into sponsorship zones for some of the Panthers’ biggest partners, said John Berger, director of sponsor sales and services.

    The Panthers’ beverage sponsors are Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Pepsi, and they potentially all could be involved in creating branded areas for fans to congregate on game days, Berger said. There are no deals completed at this time, he said.

    “We’re still working through a plan to present opportunities for sponsors to do branding,” Berger said.

    The development of those decks will be similar to what the Panthers have done downstairs on the 100 level when they built some small bars where fans can sit down and watch NFL games while they enjoy a cold beverage, Berger said. Bud Light brands at least one of those bars.

    Dave Wagner, a principal with local Wagner Murray Architects and designer of the upgrades, said the 500-level plazas “absolutely” provide opportunities for the Panthers to generate new sponsorship dollars.

    “It could be many different things, whatever the marketing guys decide to do with it,” said Wagner, whose firm is also designing renovations at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, home of the Buccaneers. “Every team is always attempting to improve the fan experience and engage the sponsorship component of the stadium.”

    At Bank of America Stadium, the open-air plazas are covered by canopies. There will be no views to the field but the vantage point will provide scenic views of the city of Charlotte, said Scott Paul, the Panthers’ director of stadium operations.

    Turner Construction, the Panthers’ general contractor, starts working on the renovations next week.

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