SBJ/March 20-26, 2017/Facilities

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  • Fanatics’ two-year deal with A’s covers team store renovation

    Don Muret
    The Oakland A’s have signed Fanatics to run the merchandise at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The two-year deal starts this season and includes a three-year option, A’s President Dave Kaval said.

    As part of the agreement, Fanatics will invest a six-figure sum to renovate the team store on the stadium’s north side and improve smaller retail stands at the ballpark, Kaval said. The A’s expect Fanatics to increase from 800 to 2,400 the total number of apparel items and other lines of merchandise inside the stadium.

    In general, the goal is to get more fans wearing A’s gear and drive per caps in the stadium, Kaval said.

    Fanatics’ online deal with MLB, where it sells retail for all 30 teams, should help grow revenue at Oakland’s ballpark by providing largely the same selection in the team store that it does in the digital space, said Cole Gahagan, the vendor’s chief commercial officer.

    The new deal extends to Fanatics’ operating A’s retail stores in downtown Oakland and nearby communities. The details on that future piece of business have yet to be determined, Gahagan said.

    At the stadium, Fanatics replaces Spectra as retail provider. Spectra remains the facility’s concessionaire for both A’s and Raiders games.

    It’s Fanatics’ second MLB ballpark deal after PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where it has been running retail since last season.

    > FINISH LINE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials didn’t have to look too far to find their new building manager. Mike Fox, the track’s new senior director of facilities, spent the past 33 years running two NFL stadiums for the Indianapolis Colts.

    Mike Fox is the Brickyard’s new senior director of facilities.
    Photo by: INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
    The speedway will most likely be Fox’s final stop after serving as stadium director for both Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened in 2007, and the old RCA Dome. The Colts played their first 23 seasons at the dome after moving from Baltimore in 1984.

    “I’ve got roughly 10 years left to work,” Fox said. “How many people can say at age 54 they have a new opportunity to do different things at an iconic facility and not have to pick up and move to a different part of the country?”

    Fox accepted the position after speedway President Doug Boles contacted him about taking over operations of the facility, which with a capacity of 250,000 is North America’s largest sports venue. The job was vacant after David Shaw, the previous facilities director, took the job as director of concessions and air services at Indianapolis International Airport, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.

    Fox reports to Boles and will oversee a staff of 35 people working in facility operations.

    “Many of them had talked to me ahead of time about what a great environment it was here,” Fox said. “They were not hard-selling. I was just talking to people casually for a long time. It was an easy decision for me to make.”

    Fox started his new job March 13, and his head is already spinning from the learning curve at the massive facility. Lucas Oil Stadium sits on 30 acres, but the speedway spans 1,000 acres.

    “I’m just trying to find my keys,” he said, laughing. “You can fit 15 Lucas Oil Stadiums in here. I’ll be the dumbest guy in the room for several months. I just want to learn and absorb from the great people already here and not completely fix something that is not broken.”

    Fox’s fondest memories at the old dome include the 1991 NCAA Final Four, the first one held in Indianapolis, and the 2006 AFC Championship, when the Colts beat the Patriots before going on to win the Super Bowl.

    “It’s no secret the first several years in town the Colts’ success on the field was minimal, so making the Super Bowl that year was huge,” Fox said.

    Playing host to the 2012 Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium is another career highlight. It’s among the few times the NFL has held its title game in a winter climate. “I never thought the city would have an opportunity to do so,” he said.

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

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