SBJ/June 23-29, 2014/Colleges

Notre Dame teaming up with Legends

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Notre Dame has hired Legends Global Sales to market new premium seats for the school’s $400 million expansion of Notre Dame Stadium.

The seven-year deal extends to Legends selling season tickets for men’s basketball at Joyce Center and developing premium experiences for marquee ACC matchups such as North Carolina, said Rob Kelly, Notre Dame’s assistant athletic director of ticketing and technology.

Legends will market new premium seating at Notre Dame Stadium.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Notre Dame’s football program remains an independent, and for Legends, football is driving the project. The company’s experience selling premium seat products for the Cowboys, 49ers, Falcons and Rose Bowl Stadium tipped the scales in its favor, Kelly said.

Legends’ relationship with Notre Dame dates to 2006 through CSL International, the market research firm it acquired in 2011. Eight years ago, CSL worked with the school on a separate stadium renovation study for a project that never happened.

For the current project, CSL founder Bill Rhoda teamed with Mike Ondrejko, Legends Global Sales’ chief operating officer, and Mike Behan, the group’s vice president of sales, to consult with Notre Dame before signing the sales agreement. As a whole, they’ve been working on the project for 14 months, Ondrejko said.

Notre Dame did extensive research on other sports marketing firms but never issued a formal proposal for the project.

“We have a track record with Legends,” Kelly said.

In addition to having a 12-person staff on campus, Legends will meet with prospective buyers in downtown Chicago. Notre Dame has academic and office space serving a large contingent of students and alumni living there, Ondrejko said.

For Notre Dame’s football program, a national brand followed by tens of thousands of school graduates living coast to coast, Legends officials see an opportunity to create a mobile tablet platform they can take on the road to pitch Campus Crossroads, the official name of the stadium renovation. This fall, Legends could potentially make presentations at MetLife Stadium, FedEx Field, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium, for Notre Dame games against Syracuse, Navy, USC and Purdue, respectively.

“The reach of their fan base goes well beyond South Bend,” Ondrejko said. “We’ll look at opportunities across the country that make logistical sense to engage corporations. Having the opportunity to experience ND football is an absolute dream come true for a lot of people.”

But Notre Dame must first take care of its current core of alumni, donors, trustees and season-ticket holders, and the plan is to reach out to those constituents before going public for the roughly 3,200 club seats and loge boxes, Kelly said. No suites are planned for the project.

To reach the local audience, Legends is working closely with 360 Architecture, the project’s sports consultant, to develop a sales center in an old auxiliary gym within Joyce Center. It will be called the Crossroads Experience and incorporate some of the same technology Legends used to market AT&T Stadium and Levi’s Stadium, as well as in Atlanta where the agency fills the same role for the Falcons’ new stadium, Ondrejko said. Legends employees will work out of temporary space in the stadium before moving into the Experience center in early October.

Crossroads Experience will also be open to the general public, a twist on similar marketing spaces exclusive to those intent on buying premium seats.

Over the next two to three months, Legends and 360 will identify the right mix of inventory among club seats and loge boxes across three levels on the stadium’s east and west sides (SportsBusiness Journal, Feb. 3-9).

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