SBJ/Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 2015/Events and Attractions

CFP ‘pretty close’ on hospitality estimates

Hospitality packages for the College Football Playoff’s inaugural championship game didn’t quite sell out, but sales were brisk enough that the CFP is already booking business for the 2016 game.

The CFP took a somewhat unique approach to selling hospitality packages for its first game at AT&T Stadium earlier this month, hiring four companies to be official sales agencies. The Colonnade Group works strictly in the college space, while the other three — Dallas Fan Fares, QuintEvents and PrimeSport — sell for most major sporting events, including the Super Bowl.

They said the CFP’s hospitality pricing ran 45 percent to 50 percent of comparable prices for Super Bowl hospitality. CFP game packages started at $1,899 per person and went as high as $5,999 per person with a hotel included.

GETTING IN THE GAME

CFP hospitality pricing for the championship game

Game-day packages — $1,899 to $4,499 per person
With hotel — $2,999 to $5,999 per person
Suites — $3,000 to $4,250 per person

CFP vendors

Colonnade Group, Birmingham, Ala.
Dallas Fan Fares
QuintEvents, Charlotte
PrimeSport, Atlanta

Many of the 347 suites inside AT&T Stadium and 3,000 tickets were available as part of the CFP’s inventory. All four sales agencies sold from the same inventory.

“Like almost everything else about the College Football Playoff, we had never administered this type of hospitality program before,” said Bill Hancock, the CFP’s executive director. “After evaluating the potential market and scratching our heads for a while, we decided to estimate 3,000 tickets, to make sure we were holding enough. We’re pleased with the sales, and our guess turned out to be pretty close. We know that this program will grow every year.”

Brian Learst, chief executive at Charlotte-based Quint-Events, said the hospitality packages were highly customizable for fans, which helped spur corporate sales for the first-time event.

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“We built a core package that started with tickets and pregame hospitality,” Learst said. “Then you could add hotel, parties, ground transportation, air. I’d say it was probably more customizable than most events we’ve worked with.”

Of the 3,000 tickets available through hospitality, they were purposely spread over most of AT&T Stadium, in order to meet needs at several different price points. But the vendors said they were able to package as many as 50 to 60 tickets together to accommodate larger groups. Vendors said there was a balance between corporate buyers and fans coming from out of town.

“We’re already very connected to the college community because most of the work we do is in the college space, so our corporate clients understand the value of a national-level event like this,” said Robbie Robertson, Colonnade’s president and CEO. “That made us very targeted and focused on who we were selling to. At the game, we had a lot of our buyers talking about coming back next year and wanting more seats.”

The most expensive packages at $5,999 per person included a club seat between the 20-yard lines, pregame hospitality inside the stadium in a field-level room, full menu and bar, appearances by former college football greats like Tony Dorsett, preferred parking, gift bag, merchandise voucher and hotel. Those ticket holders were allowed to enter the stadium up to three hours before kickoff.

Fans with higher-end hospitality packages got to go down on the AT&T Stadium field after Ohio State won the title game.
Photo by: JAKE DEAN / DALLAS BUSINESS JOURNAL
One of the bonuses for the higher-end packages was access to the field after the game.

“A lot of the players for Ohio State stayed around on the field after the game,” said Kaye Burkhardt, president and owner of Dallas Fan Fares. “That actually gave some of the fans with field access the chance to get autographs. It made for a great atmosphere and a nice little perk.”

Tickets for the lower-priced packages were in the upper levels or the end zones. Their pregame hospitality was outside of the stadium.

The AT&T Stadium suite packages — suites range from 15 to 59 people — started at $3,000 per person and went up to $4,250 for the suite ticket, food and beverage and parking.

“I only see it growing from here,” Robertson said. “To me, the playoff has a lot of the same elements as a Super Bowl. People want to be part of the event. One of the things that define a big event like this is whether people will buy without regard for the teams that make it. That’s a good barometer and we experienced a good bit of that.”

Each of the four vendors signed one-year agreements with the CFP and once the Super Bowl is over, they’ll begin renewal talks. In the meantime, though, they’re already taking calls from fans who went to the inaugural game and want to buy packages for the 2016 event.

Hancock said the CFP office will evaluate the hospitality sales, the ticket allotment and the four vendors in the coming weeks, but he was mostly happy with how it went. Next year’s championship game will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium, which has 88 luxury lofts, field boxes and a capacity of 63,400 that’s expandable to 72,200 seats.

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