SBJ/March 31-April 6, 2014/Facilities

Sign of the times: Old marquee gets new business plan in Philly

Don Muret
A marquee tied to old Veterans Stadium will start generating revenue for the Philadelphia Phillies this season after years of disrepair.

The structure, known as the Theme Tower, sits in a center-field parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park. Built in 1972 as part of the construction of the Vet, the former home of the Phillies and Eagles that sat nearby, the tower’s three-sided sign has been out of commission for many years.

The 157-foot-tall structure blocks skyline views for a select group of Phillies fans sitting behind home plate, said Larry Cohen, a partner with TMC Philadelphia, an agency that sells advertising at sports facilities and other venues.

Cohen, a former ticketing and sales executive for the 76ers and Disney Sports, and Richard McClemmy, his partner and president of TMC Philadelphia and a former vice president for Angels Baseball, found a solution without tearing the tower down. TMC signed a 10-year deal with the Phillies to renovate the tower, which is owned by the team as part of its stadium lease. The new tower will contain two smaller LED signs and will be lowered by 50 feet so as not to obstruct views inside the ballpark. TMC is paying for the project, an investment of more than $1 million, Cohen said.

The Theme Tower will be lowered and fitted with LED signs.

TMC Philadelphia will sell advertising on the tower’s signs and share that revenue with the Phillies. Up to eight messages could be displayed on each of the two new signs. The spots, to be sold in eight-second rotations running 24/7, each carry a value of $104,000 annually, Cohen said, so a sellout at that price would total $1.66 million in revenue a year.

In addition, the Phillies can display news about rainouts and other information on the new system, said Dave Buck, the Phillies’ senior vice president of marketing and advertising sales.

The Theme Tower is visible from Interstate 76, where on an average weekday, 139,000 vehicles pass the South Philadelphia Sports Complex coming from New Jersey, Cohen said. Elsewhere at the complex, the two billboards Comcast-Spectacor operates outside Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers and Sixers, will generate about $1.8 million this season, sources familiar with those deals said. Those signs face I-95.

TMC Philadelphia is negotiating deals with both team sponsors and new partners to display their messages, but Cohen declined to identify potential advertisers.

For the Theme Tower, TMC hired Liantronics, a Chinese company, to supply the LED technology. The firm has done work for sports facilities overseas, but the Theme Tower is its first project in the U.S., Cohen said. It should be ready for the Phillies’ home opener April 7 against Milwaukee.

There are similar projects for TMC Philadelphia to pursue in the future for reactivating signs connected to sports venues, including a billboard USC controls on Interstate 110 near Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, McClemmy said.

> BITS AND PIECES: RipBang Studios, a 14-year-old Los Angeles firm specializing in branded destinations at sports facilities, has merged with Nelson, a Philadelphia architect. The deal provides RipBang with a “deeper bench” to compete against traditional sports architects forming their own divisions targeting the same work, said Bob Bangham, the firm’s creative director and co-founder. … HKS, architect for AT&T Stadium and Lucas Oil Stadium, is part of the team selected by the city of Regina, Saskatchewan, to develop a $200 million Canadian Football League stadium for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The 30,000-seat facility is scheduled to open in 2017. It’s the first CFL project for HKS. … The Colorado Rockies have signed The Tavern, a high-end Denver sports bar, for naming rights to a piece of the new rooftop project in the upper deck at Coors Field. The destination spans 38,000 square feet and the centerpiece is the Tavern Ballpark bar, featuring 52 taps serving craft beers. The 10-year deal is valued in the six figures annually, said Greg Feasel, the Rockies’ executive vice president and chief operating officer. The team previously signed CHUBurger, a casual dining restaurant, for naming rights to the rooftop’s exhibition-style kitchen space. The club has one more deal to complete for naming rights to the entire rooftop development, Feasel said.

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

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