SBJ/Feb. 17-23, 2014/Facilities

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  • ‘Multiple offers’ helped Rangers boost naming-rights deal

    Don Muret
    Stiff competition to name the Texas Rangers’ 20-year-old ballpark drove the price up for a facility that had gone without a corporate name for the past seven seasons.

    The deal for Globe Life Park, announced Feb. 5 and brokered by Premier Partnerships, the Rangers’ official sales agency, was reported locally to be a 10-year agreement valued at $5 million annually.

    The $50 million agreement ranks third in Major League Baseball behind New York’s Citi Field (20 years, $400 million) and Houston’s Minute Maid Park ($178 million over 28 years), according to SportsBusiness Journal research.

    Jeff Marks, Premier’s managing director, said there were four finalists to buy naming rights after Premier and the Rangers together contacted hundreds of companies over the past several months to gauge their interest.

    One was Globe Life and Accident Insurance Co., which is based in Oklahoma City and owned by Torchmark, a McKinney, Texas, company. Globe Life has about 4 million policy holders and underwrites more than $60 billion in life insurance, according to the Rangers.

    The Texas Rangers’ Joe Januszewski fields questions after the announcement of the team’s deal with Globe Life.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    “We had multiple offers,” Marks said. “Some fell off as the numbers got higher.”

    The relatively high number of companies serious enough to reach the bargaining table created leverage for the Rangers and worked in their favor for driving the highest possible value, Marks said.

    The Rangers brought in Globe Life as a sales lead and ultimately selected the company, which has not previously had a presence in sports marketing, said Joe Januszewski, the team’s executive vice president of business partnerships and development.

    The insurer’s commitment to donate funds to local youth baseball and softball programs through a partnership with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation helped drive the decision to choose Globe Life, Januszewski said.

    > REWARDING: Premier Partnerships’ first talks with the Rangers to help them sell naming rights took place in the lobby of the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square at the 2012 Sports Business Awards. SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily produces the annual event.

    As Marks recalled, Robert Hernreich, a Rangers minority owner, had reached out to Premier principals, including President and CEO Randy Bernstein, and set up a meeting with Rick George, the team’s president of business operations before he left to take over as Colorado’s athletic director.

    The Rangers told Premier officials they wanted to try to sell naming rights on their own, Marks said. Over time, the Rangers talked to many candidates but did not feel they were getting the value they wanted, and they went back to Premier for assistance.

    About six months ago, Premier Partnerships signed a deal with the Rangers. The company developed a sales plan for the first two months before running a “full market blitz” the next two months and holding follow-up meetings with CEOs and C-level decision-makers the past two months.

    “We helped them increase the value proposition to get the price and term they wanted,” Marks said.

    > HUNGRY MAN: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage has the perfect dish for race fans attending events at this facility — the Big Hoss TV Dinner.

    The Speedway Motorsports Inc. facility is installing NASCAR’s newest monster video board, nicknamed Big Hoss (see related story, Page 16). As a themed tie-in, Levy Restaurants, the track’s food provider, will serve meals packaged like the old Swanson’s TV dinners, Gossage said.

    The food concept and its price are still in development, but Gossage provided some tidbits on the item.

    “It’s a tray and most likely will come with a big turkey leg, sides and dessert,” he said. “You fold the top off and there are the various compartments of food, good and hot.”

    The Big Hoss TV dinner follows a bacon bender that the track went on last year, when menu items included a bacon beer milkshake and bacon-flavored cotton candy.

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

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  • Legends hires Koger for new division

    Legends has strengthened its position in the sports facility development space by hiring construction management executive Dale Koger.

    For the past 13 years, Koger has served as vice president and general manager of Turner Construction, one of the top three builders of arenas and stadiums in North America. Before that, he worked at Clark Construction. Now, he moves to Legends to spearhead a new division within its Global Planning group focusing on project management services for teams, colleges and municipalities. The common phrase covering those services is owner’s representative, the entity filling a critical role between the facility stakeholders’ interests and the architects and contractors.

    Koger’s official title is senior vice president and managing director of Legends Project Development. His first day on the job is today and he’ll continue to be based in Northern Virginia. His initial project is the new practice headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys in Frisco, Texas, that includes a 12,000-seat indoor stadium.

    “I wasn’t really looking for a job,” Koger said. “But I like a big challenge, and particularly when it’s with an organization that’s already such a player in the sports venue business, it seemed like a natural for me. Frankly, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

    In addition to Koger, Legends hired John Dixon and Mark Hickman, two former principals with Manhattan Construction, the company that built AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys’ home.

    Driving the hires, especially of Koger, was Legends’ need to close the loop on its facility development services. They start on the ground floor with CSL International, a market research and feasibility company they acquired in 2011, and continue through their sales and marketing and hospitality groups. Putting Koger in the driver’s seat for its new project management services extends the relationships CSL develops from the feasibility side of the business and takes its expertise in that space to a higher level, Legends’ Bill Rhoda said.

    Koger will report to Rhoda, who now oversees Legends Global Planning as group president covering three divisions: market feasibility (CSL), project development and analytics.

    Shervin Mirhashemi, Legends’ president and chief operating officer, said the move “fills a phenomenal void that we had that quite frankly others were jumping in and controlling the process, when really we’re the ones who were going to be with that asset for a long time.”

    It’s a smart move for Legends, said Michael Rowe, president and CEO of Positive Impact, a New Jersey sports consultant. By taking charge on the front end of project development, Legends can help the facility stakeholder eliminate potential design barriers for successfully marketing a building, keeping in mind its Global Sales division could later be selling those assets, Rowe said.

    Most recently at Turner, Koger helped the firm win three NFL projects: the construction of Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers’ $1.3 billion facility, plus renovations to FirstEnergy Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field. Turner also won the Sacramento Kings’ $448 million arena project.

    Now, as Koger moves to the middle of the facility development process, he will represent Legends as it competes against firms such as Icon Venue Group, which he often submitted proposals to in an effort to win construction jobs. Icon, headed by founder and owner Tim Romani, is the dominant player in that space, representing stakeholders for new NFL stadium projects in Atlanta and Minnesota and NBA and NHL arenas in Sacramento and Edmonton. Hammes, PC Sports, Brailsford & Dunlavey and JMI Sports are other project managers in sports.

    Koger had heard Rhoda was seeking to expand his company’s reach in facility development. They’ve known each other for 15 years, and talked a few weeks ago about the job. “Things accelerated pretty quickly from there,” Koger said.

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