SBJ/Aug. 11-17, 2014/Facilities

Refined hospitality, just a Lambeau leap away

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A Wisconsin sports marketer has brought a new kind of premium NFL hospitality to the Green Bay Packers’ neighborhood.

Good Karma Brands, which owns ESPN Radio affiliates in Madison, Milwaukee and Cleveland, had been looking for a way to expand its business beyond radio, CEO Craig Karmazin said. It decided to create a high-end experience tied to Lambeau Field, a stadium that’s a fixture on any fan’s bucket list. It’s also the only NFL stadium still standing in a residential neighborhood.

The backyards of houses on Stadium Drive look out over Lambeau Field. See slideshow below for more images from the Tundra Trio.
All photos by: NOUN PHOTOGRAPHY

“The concept in this day and age with development around a sports facility, to imagine you could actually walk from a luxury house to an NFL game without having to cross a street or even a sidewalk, just blew us away,” Karmazin said.

In September 2011, Good Karma bought a house on Stadium Drive, in the shadow of Lambeau. It then bought two more. All have backyards that look out on the stadium.

Good Karma invested more
than $1.4 million to buy the homes and renovate them with an elegant yet casual touch. Together, they are branded as the Tundra Trio, a take-off on Lambeau’s Frozen Tundra theme.

Rental rates start at $10,000, and the cost goes up as amenities are added, such as game tickets, airfare and private chefs, as well as golf

Inside, Good Karma has created a high-end atmosphere. Clients have included the Washington Redskins.

at Whistling Straits, site of the 2015 PGA Championship, and lodging at the five-star American Club resort, both about an hour south of Green Bay.

The rate also varies depending on the Packers’ opponent and the size of the group. Last year, the first season for the Tundra Trio, the Washington Redskins brought 200 of their top season-ticket holders to a game, using two of the houses that are side by side for hospitality. The Cleveland Browns, by comparison, rented one home for an intimate gathering of 15 people to entertain sponsors such as FirstEnergy Corp., the utility that holds naming rights to their stadium.

“It worked out beautifully,” said Brent Stehlik, the Browns’ executive vice president and chief revenue officer. “Outdoors, they had a fire going and a full buffet. The game started at 4 p.m., and we had five hours to party. It’s perfect for a corporate outing due to the location.”

As of last week, Good Karma had booked 14 events at the Tundra Trio for the 2014 season, including preseason games. It has sold all inventory for the Jets and Bears regular-season games at Lambeau. Availability remained for the Packers’ six other regular-season games.

One event is a non-game-day function connected to a State Farm promotion for a fan who won a Tundra Trio tailgate with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, star of the insurer’s quirky television commercials.

“If our only goal was to sell out the homes, we could have them all rented the day after the NFL schedule comes out,” Karmazin said. “But the homes are also a tool for us to build our relationships, both within pro sports and in the corporate marketing community.”

Good Karma paid an average price of $312,000 for the three houses, which were initially assessed at $110,000 to $130,000. One home apart from the Tundra Trio was listed at $350,000 and had gone unsold for 16 months. But after Good Karma bought its first house for $314,000, eight of the 11 houses on the block were sold over the next six months, Karmazin said. (The Packers bought four of those houses and had them relocated to provide more space for television network trucks).

One of the unique aspects of the houses is a garage converted into a wine bar.
Good Karma’s internal director of real estate teamed with a local architect and builder to create some unique aspects, such as a garage converted into a wine bar. There is no heavy Packers theming, though. You won’t find foam cheeseheads and Brett Favre shrines inside. The intent was to redesign spaces in neutral colors to the point that opposing team executives visiting the houses would feel just as comfortable hanging out there as the biggest Packers fans, Karmazin said.

“High end was the vision,” he said. “There are a lot of party houses in Green Bay, a lot of green-and-gold urinals and cool Vince Lombardi Trophy showcase rooms. What we wanted is to have something completely different.”


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