• Live from Las Vegas: We went down to the crossroads

    LEAN IN AND DON’T APOLOGIZE: There’s an interesting dichotomy in motorsports today – especially when it comes to NASCAR – which was evident on the first day of the ’16 Motorsports Marketing Forum. Many touted the size and scale and reach of the sport, and the fan base, which cannot be overlooked. Comments like “lean in,” “not apologizing,” and “take those numbers over most sports any day of the week,” were balanced by the stark reality of softer TV ratings and attendance, with sponsorship harder and harder to secure. One thing is certain – after 17 years of holding this Forum, the lines of communication and cooperation by the stakeholders across motorsports seem to be stronger than ever. However, even with that, most agree there are still gaps and unavoidable chasms due to the size and pace of the industry. Interesting times, to say the least, and all while stakeholders await a new title sponsor for NASCAR’s “premier” series.

    WHAT’S UP TODAY: We will hear more from various motorsports team executives about building winning cultures and where innovation can be brought to these traditional motorsports. Also, one of the sport’s good guys, Chip Ganassi, will sit with SBJ/SBD’s Abe Madkour and talk about his life, which has touched virtually every area of racing. One of the most talked about sponsors in motorsports, Monster Energy, will sit with Feld Entertainment and talk about their partnership on the global series, Monster Energy Supercross. There also will be a look at where motorsports can leverage their media assets. We will close the day with a fun session featuring a conversation led by longtime IndyCar writer Curt Cavin with three IndyCar stars and Indy 500 winners: Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Alexander Rossi.

    ONE THING YOU CAN’T IGNORE: NASCAR’s respective series champions – Jimmie Johnson and Daniel Suarez – offered thoughtful, relatable comments about their back stories and future goals. Both came across as likable, down-to-earth ambassadors for the sport. Suarez, whose interview with Fox NASCAR’s Jamie Little was the final session of Day 1, got stuck in traffic on the way to the conference and forced the crowd to sit and make small talk for about 15 minutes until he arrived. But then the young driver was so charming and funny as he talked about his experiences learning English, picking the brains of other drivers and trying to become a role model that no one minded the wait. Johnson, in a chat with NASCAR.com’s Holly Cain, had the rapt attention of the crowd when he talked about becoming a team leader, driving under pressure and balancing work and family. Two great representatives of the sport, and we’re looking forward to seeing more today.

    WAITING FOR THE YOUNG GUNS: It’s rare to get consensus when you’re talking to a group of executives from diverse areas of the industry, but when moderator Madkour asked the opening panel what would have to happen to make 2017 a great year, three of the five agreed on one thing that the sport needs: the emergence of the next generation of winners. Asked to complete the sentence, “2017 will be a great year if …”:
    IMS’ Doug Boles: “If you have someone from the next generation of drivers win the championship.”
    NASCAR’s Jill Gregory: “If some young talent can really prove themselves on the track.”
    NBC Sports’ Mike McCormack: “I’m intrigued by the young new talent and when they are going to take the mantle and carry the sport through the next decade.”

    The outliers:
    Team Epic’s David Grant: “If the industry can start to demonstrate that all of these other ways the sport is being consumed can more than offset the deterioration of traditional television.”
    Roush Fenway Racing’s Steve Newmark: “If our sport can differentiate from other sports through technology. If teams can continue together to find more efficient ways to run their operations.”

    BOTTOM LINE SUCCESS: What’s it going to take to declare the new NHL team in Vegas a success? When owner Bill Foley and his management team appeared on stage, each had a viewpoint.  “We want to be competitive the first year,” Foley said, and referenced the processing of growing fruit. “By the third year, we should be harvesting some fruit. We have a very specific plan on winning the Stanley Cup. That’s why [GM] George [McPhee] is here.” McPhee said he wants to stress culture.  “Building it the right way is through your culture,” he said. “Culture is your invisible difference maker. If you go to West Point, you’re going to know what they stand for. If you join the New England Patriots, you’re going to find out very quickly what they stand for. … That’s our focus, getting the right culture to help us win.”  Team President Kerry Bubolz talked about his vision for the business side.  “We’d like to be a top 5 revenue team in every measureable category within five years,” he said. “I believe we can do it.  It’s not the 40th largest market. It’s a national market. It’s a major market. People are coming from all over the world. We have a unique opportunity to tell a story to a national and international audience.”
      
    SOCIAL ANIMALS I: MVPindex co-Founder Kyle Nelson had some rapt attention from attendees when he showed some of the motorsports related research he’s gathered around social media. Among his findings: 94% of the top 300 posts by NASCAR teams were on Facebook; Facebook links receive 33% more engagement than photos when posted by NASCAR teams; Video is seeing 51% more engagement than photos on Facebook; 73% of driver posts are text-based on Twitter. He also said that people tune into Twitter during a race. Tweets that include a call to action, such as asking followers to retweet, received 6.3X higher engagement. In addition, more than 50% of the top 100 Instagram posts by NASCAR teams feature a race car; 70% of Instagram posts by NASCAR teams include at least one brand, hashtag, handle or keyword, including NASCAR and series-related terms; and Facebook is driving most of the value – while representing only 15% of the NASCAR content over a month, it resulted in 57% of engagement and 47% of impressions.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS II: Social Media QB Jeramie McPeek offered some of his learnings from his professional career focused on social media, much of the time at the Phoenix Suns and now as a digital and social media consultant.  He started the session by having attendees do the wave to get the energy going. Among his takeaways: Video is really important no matter what channel it is on; Brands/teams/leagues he admires on social: WWE,  Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks; Best platform to reach young people: SnapChat and Instagram.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS III: Yes, we went heavy on the social discussion today, but it drew a great response from our crowd. Near the end of the day, we heard from Andre Pinard, Octagon’s Group Director, Insights and Planning. His takeaways:
    — 93% of millennials want to experience something new and blood rushing – notion that experience trumps things.
    — 78% of millennials would rather pay for an experience than material goods.
    — 63%of Gen Z prefer to see real people over celebrities in advertisements.
    — 82% millennials went to a live event in the past year, such as concerts and festivals, and 72% plan to increase spending on such outings.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS IV: Johnson drew a few laughs from the crowd when he looked back at how he slowly warmed to using social media: “I was probably late to get on the social media train; people were doing it before me and I read some things on a blog when it first started coming out, and I couldn’t believe just how rude people could be to me or my fiancé at the time. But once my skin thickened up, I realized the importance of social media, and obviously the world has moved in that direction, and I’ve done things on social media that haven’t been recommended. Everyone says, ‘Leave the trolls alone.’ [But after] a couple drinks on a plane ride home, it’s fun to poke the trolls.”

    SOCIAL ANIMALS V: We don’t have the numbers yet to back this up, but we’re pretty sure that there was more activity this year around the event hashtag, #sbjmmf, than we’ve had in previous years. Our thanks to our most frequent tweeters: Tim Southers (@tsouth1968); Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass); Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer) and Ken Ungar (@Kungar).

    Among the tweets we liked:
    @MattioliAlivia: .@andreataccess presentation on Youth Marketing & the "New Era" is enlightening on new knowledge/notions on social connection.
    @lenperna: Thanks to Bill Foley, George McPhee & Kerry Bubolz for a great panel at #sbjmmf #vegasgoldenknights will be biggest NHL launch ever!
    @mikepistana: Great to see @JimmieJohnson talking about his 7th championship at #sbjmmf @MandalayBay
    @jeramie: Figured it was only fitting to turn my trademark conference wave into a 3-lap race at the @sbjsbd Motorsports Marketing Forum!

     

    WIN SOME SWAG: If you didn’t already drop off your business card at the registration desk, be sure to do so this morning for a chance to win prizes from sponsors Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. Up for grabs: an IndyCar mini-helmet signed by all of the 2016 full-time drivers; and an IMS logo metal sign and Indy 500 logo metal sign, both autographed by the full 33 driver field for the 100th running of the Indy 500. The winners will be announced this morning.

    THE FUTURE OF THE SPORT: And while you’re at the registration desk (or any time during the morning), say hello to our two conference volunteers, Katelyn Aardema and Trey Stafford. Both are students at Belmont Abbey College in the motorsports management program directed by Pat Wood, who you’ll see again this morning as a guest moderator.

    CONFERENCE COORDINATES: The Jasmine Ballroom was packed during the first day of the Forum, and we’re expecting similar crowds today. As a reminder, breakfast and exhibits open at 7:30 a.m. PT, with the program starting at 8:15 a.m.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and the program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators by using the MMF app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #sbjmmf.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    NEXT CONFERENCE UP: We’ll be in New York next week for our last event of the year, the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. We hope to see you there!

    Tags: ING, Motorsports, Ally, NASCAR, ATT, SEC, GE, Gap, Media, IndyCar, Champion, Champions, Fox, CES
  • Live from Las Vegas: What’s next for motorsports?

    ON THE GROUND IN VEGAS: Interesting times in Sin City, which in the last year has seen the opening of T-Mobile Arena, the NHL’s approval for the Vegas Golden Knights to begin play next fall, and the continuing pursuit of an NFL team to play in a planned new facility just off the Strip. This weekend Las Vegas will be home to the traditional NASCAR season-ending banquet and the National Finals Rodeo that takes over much of the city, with nightly events at the Thomas & Mack Center. And with that as a scene setter , we’ll host the ’16 SBJ/SBD Motorsports Marketing Forum starting this morning at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

    BUCKLE UP: It will be all motorsports, all day, as attendees will enjoy 10 sessions developed around the themes of connection, collaboration and culture. Connection: Reaching fans through the live event experience and through social and digital platforms. Collaboration: How various stakeholders across motorsports can cooperate for smarter business. Culture: Building a winning culture in your team, organization and series.

    WHEN DO THEY EVER REST?: Few in motorsports get any down time – especially NASCAR, where there is virtually no offseason anymore. But these two days will provide a valuable time to reflect and to look ahead as the major motorsports series takes a breath after weeks on the road. What we’re looking for: What’s the general sense of the state of the series? How’s the vibe around NASCAR after a record-setting performance by the magnificent Jimmie Johnson amid mixed signals on viewer consumption? How does IndyCar build off its successful 100th running of the Indy 500? How does everyone in motorsports look to attract a younger demo?

    HEARING FROM THE CHAMPS: NASCAR.com reporter Holly Cain will sit down after lunch with 2016 Sprint Cup Series Champion Johnson, who will open up about his activities around Champion’s Week and what the championship means to his business and brand....To close the day, Xfinity Series Champion Daniel Suarez will talk about his road to the title with Fox’s NASCAR pit reporter, Jamie Little.

    BUILDING A TEAM FROM THE STRIP ON UP: Looking to bring an outside perspective to motorsports, we will hear from Golden Knights owner Bill Foley and his executive team, General Manager George McPhee and President Kerry Bubolz, about how they are focusing on team-building and developing a successful organizational culture. This can’t-miss session will be moderated by Turnkey’s Len Perna.

    SOCIAL STUDIES: MVPindex co-Founder Kyle Nelson will offer exclusive data about how drivers, teams, tracks and series are connecting with fans through social media, while longtime social pioneer Jeramie McPeek will offer a presentation on his best practices in the business. Finally, Octagon’s Andre Pinard will give a roadmap on how to be successful in marketing to today’s youth.

    TIME TO RELAX: We’ll end the day with a networking reception at 5:15 p.m. in the Banyan room. See you there!

    AROUND THE STRIP: Expect temps in the mid-50s but bright sunshine throughout the next few days. The local weathercasters are emphasizing that it will be chilly this week, so maybe wear a jacket. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s worth your while to get a glimpse of T-Mobile Arena, which is located right off Las Vegas Boulevard South near the Monte Carlo and New York New York. You will get a good feel for the pedestrian friendly walkway, Toshiba Plaza and the unique see-through LED video mesh on the outside of the venue. And, if you stay the weekend, you could see it in action with concerts from George Strait on Friday and Saturday.

    WIN SOME SWAG: Be sure to drop off your business card at the registration desk for a chance to win prizes from sponsors Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. Up for grabs: an IndyCar mini-helmet signed by all of the 2016 full-time drivers; and an IMS logo metal sign and Indy 500 logo metal sign, both autographed by the full 33 driver field for the 100th running of the Indy 500.

    CONFERENCE COORDINATES: We’re expecting more than 200 people today in the Jasmine Ballroom on the third level of the convention center. Registration, breakfast and exhibits open at 8:45 a.m. PT, with the program starting at 9:45. In typical Las Vegas mega-resort fashion, you’ll get a little exercise on your way to the conference. It will take 7-8 minutes to walk to the convention center from the hotel towers and casino entrance.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and the program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators by using the SMT app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #sbjmmf.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    Tags: Motorsports, On The Ground, ING, NHL, NFL, NASCAR, ATT, GE, Ally, IndyCar, CES
  • Live from New York: Elections set stage for SMS Day 1

    When you open a conference the morning after one of the most contentious elections that many of us can remember, there’s no way to ignore what had happened. Regardless of who they supported, you could see the tiredness in the eyes of many of our attendees as they struggled to move their attention from the results that some had watched until only a few hours before the start of the 2016 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium. In his opening remarks, SBJSBD’s Richard Weiss acknowledged what many were feeling. “I think we would all agree that there’s quite a stark contrast between the negativity and divisiveness that has characterized our election cycle compared to the power of sports and its ability to unite us as an industry and as a country,” he said. “That’s why I think it’s so important for us as an industry to keep doing what we do well. To learn from each other. To innovate. And to work to make sports as relevant as we can to serve the broadest possible audience. So my congratulations to those of you whose candidate won. My condolences to those of you who lost. I’m sure there will be lots of discussion over the course of today and tomorrow. How could there not be? But, for now, we’re going to get started with the work at hand. Work that, when it’s successful, truly serves to unite people.”

    EARLY REACTIONS: Maybe it was unfair to ask our speakers to comment on an election whose results were still so fresh, but ask we did. Here’s what a few of them said:
    Ken Fuchs, STATS: “There is a brand aspect to Trump, and the rhetoric and the campaign. When we talk to partners and when I recruit executives, it actually does come into play. Which is, we’re an American company, we’re an American brand, and we’re in competition with international companies. So while that might end up being overblown to a certain extent, it does get condensed especially right now in an exacerbated environment. I’ll be very interested to see how that plays out over time.”

    Tom O’Toole, former CMO of United Airlines: “I’ll rephrase the question to say, What can the sports industry learn from last night’s outcome? Marketing in the sports industry is driven by information, but it is also driven by passion and identity. And relying entirely on the information … while not fully taking into account the passion and identity can lead to very unexpected outcomes.”

    Todd Kline, Miami Dolphins: “As an NFL club, we consider ourselves a public trust, so we are part of the ethos. Much like we have fans, these candidates do, too. You can never underestimate the passion fans have for you or for a candidate.”

    Ralph Santana, Harman International: “Depending on what happens with the administration, depending on what happens when we go to emerging markets, it will have an impact on sports, because that is the biggest growth area for a lot of properties. But more important, when you think about some of the sports that are trying to penetrate inside the U.S., like soccer, there could be major implications on what relationships are like over the next four years.”

    LUKER ON ELECTIONS: With data scientist Dr. Rich Luker on hand, we couldn’t resist asking for his take on the how so many of the pollsters and pundits went wrong on Election Day. Luker: “If I had to gamble, I’d say the Republicans did an awesome job on data. And if it was me, I’ll tell you what I would have done. With all of these rallies with all of these huge numbers, I would have been polling all of those people to identify the characteristics of somebody who has been energized but either never or rarely votes. Then I would have polled against that to find out who is out there. And those people were off the radar. So when Trump’s campaign was saying, ‘We have polls that say we are doing better,’ I think they did. And I don’t think the media pollsters, and the Democratic pollsters, were asking those kinds of questions. Why? They didn’t have those crowds. They weren’t drawing those people. Random samples aren’t going to catch those.”

    ON TAP FOR TODAY: We’ll start the day with a discussion on how brands can make smart decisions on Esports, then launch into three back-to-back sessions that will look at sports that are potentially set to go big-time: Drone Racing League, World Surf League and Tough Mudder. We’ll end the conference with sessions that delve into some of the industry’s hot topics, including Sabermetrics and high school sports. For a quick recap of yesterday and a table-setter for today, check out our morning podcast.

    A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE: Coca-Cola’s Ricardo Fort told attendees that the next 10 years “are going to be fundamentally different from the sports world we grew up in.” Speaking with Momentum Worldwide’s Kevin McNulty in a one-on-one interview, Fort said changes would be driven by developments such as an emerging global sports environment, new tools to measure sponsorship effectiveness, and the continued advance of digital content platforms. Fort also talked about the trend of World Cups and Olympics being held in smaller, more remote areas, and said the location isn’t the primary factor: “Time zone is really more important than the location itself,” he said. “Rio was great [for the ’16 Olympics]. Other events coming up in Asia will be more challenging, particularly with respect to broadcasting, since TV is still such a primary revenue driver for many of these organizing bodies.”

    BIG PAPI DOESN’T DISAPPOINT: Retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz brought his larger-than-life persona to the Symposium, sitting for a 30-minute session with his agent, Alex Radetsky, and SBJSBD’s Terry Lefton. Ortiz shared some of his plans now that he’s retired, as well as stories about sponsor relationships that he built during his career. He talked about the importance of players having a good relationship with fans, and then backed it up by graciously stopping for selfies with attendees every few feet as he made his way off the stage. A few of his remarks:
    — “People want to connect off the field. I take that very personally. When we go to a school, the way the kids look up at us has a major impact.”
    — When his kids play sports, “People always expect them to be like me, or even better. One thing I worry the most about my kids is to make sure they are well educated. That opens up so many doors.”
    — On helping players develop in his home country, the Dominican Republic: “You want to make sure they understand that just because you got signed by a ball club doesn’t mean that you made it.”

    MARATHON MOMENT: By the way, we mentioned yesterday that Symposium sponsor Omnigon was asking attendees to vote on the top moment in Ortiz’s momentous career. The winner: the heart-felt speech he made in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

    THUMBS UP ON TRUMP: Among those in the room delighted with the outcome, no one was beaming more than longtime GOP-er John Tatum of Genesco Sports Enterprises. He came to the conference bearing a large Trump button on his sports coat. 

    VIP DINNER: Momentum Worldwide and SBJ/SBD hosted about 60 people last night at Tender Steak and Sushi, a few blocks from the Crowne Plaza. It was a great gathering in a trendy but comfortable space, and it felt like everyone was ready to relax and unwind after the events of the previous 24 hours. The crowd was welcomed by SBJ/SBD’s Weiss and Momentum’s McNulty, who then turned it over to Tullamore D.E.W. brand ambassador Tim Herlihy, who in turn guided the crowd through a pre-dinner toast with some of Tullamore’s Irish whiskey. (That whiskey was also a big hit for ALL of our attendees during the afternoon break yesterday.) Everyone at the dinner left with a gift back that included a Tullamore shot glass and ‘Good Book’ — a book with pages cut out to hide a flask. On the menu: Spicy yellowtail tuna roll, truffle tagliatelle, Atlantic salmon, sirloin steak, chocolate mousse and fresh berries with whipped cream.

    ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS: By the way, for some of you wondering about the relationship between Irish whiskey and the Symposium: Tullamore D.E.W. is one of the brands owned by William Grant & Sons, which in turn is a client of Symposium title sponsor Momentum Worldwide. 

    SEATS FROM SEATERS: There was plenty of interest in the giveaway by conference sponsor Seaters, which awarded tickets to three events this week to lucky winners from the Symposium crowd. The PGA Tour’s Nelson Silverio won the tickets to Tuesday night’s Rangers-Canucks matchup. Kevin Dent  from Tough Mudder won tickets to Hamilton, and rumor has it he was giving them to his wife as a birthday present. We’ll let you know who won tickets to the Nets-Knicks game.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and the program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play store by following this link, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    YOUR THOUGHTS MATTER: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators by using the SMS app or by texting SBJSBD to 22-333.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference from our Twitter handle, @SBJSBD, and using the hashtag #sbjsms. Be sure to also follow Momentum’s #fansourced hashtag.
    Many thanks to frequent tweeters Russell Scibetti – @rscibetti; John Michael Perla - @johnmikenyc; and Susy Castillo - @SusyCastillo.

    A few of the tweets we liked:
    @kyleanelson: Such an honor to speak about @davidortiz's social brand at #sbjsms.
    @Walkon12GoBlue: Fascinating panel discussion on reaching millennials & the intersection of traditional and non traditional sports content
    @cannonjw: Had the chance to have lunch w/ #sportsbiz legend @ponturo at #sbjsms today. Great stories. Can't wait for that guy to write a book one day.
    @rscibetti: Enjoyed getting to chat w/ Husdon White of @BuffDudes on how they started, maintaining authenticity & using fan feedback
    @Jazzzyfreshhh: Great discussion on how to amplify convos outside of the game window and advertisers being integrated in new ways

    HOT CONTACTS: Finally, if you haven’t given our Resource Guide LIVE a try, sign up at our booth for a personal demo and a chance to win a full year of our continually updated sports business executive and company contact list.

    Tags: GE, ING, ATT, Ugg, Marketing Symposium, NTRA, Audi, CES
  • Live from New York: After election shocker, SMS turns to sports business

    Is it more shocking than Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson in 1990? Or Jets over Colts in Super Bowl III? Or the Giants over the Patriots in 2008? Last night's win by Donald Trump will be compared to the greatest upsets of all time. See the New York tabloids: N.Y. POST; N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Also, the nationals: WASHINGTON POST, N.Y. TIMES, WSJ, L.A. TIMES.

    NEW YORK STORY: What a night. We’ve had a LOT of events in New York City over our nearly two decades of hosting conferences, but we can’t recall another night as emotionally charged, tense and on edge as last night. The city seemed to be on “high alert” all day, with jammed streets in midtown, security personnel with guns everywhere, and large trucks that we were told were dropping huge bags of sand near the Trump Tower and The Peninsula Hotel (where Hillary Clinton was staying). Scores of media crews lined 6th Avenue around the Hilton hotel (Trump’s election-night HQ) and entire blocks had an almost surreal feel. Into the evening, as polls closed across the country and results started to roll in, the streets seemed relatively empty for New York, though thousands of people were packed into NBC’s Democracy Plaza, watching election results on two huge television screens surrounded by American flags and in the shadow of a Rockefeller Center building bathed in red, white and blue. We’re sports people. We should be used to dramatic, surprising endings, right?

    SPORTS ON THE BALLOT: Yesterday’s election was about more than who gets to live in the White House. Voters in San Diego appear to have handed the Chargers stadium initiative a resounding defeat, leaving the team and the NFL with some decisions to make. In Arlington, Texas, though, it looks like the Rangers got the nod that should put them another step closer to a new ballpark and surrounding entertainment district.

    WE NOW INTERRUPT THE ELECTION FOR .... SPORTS BUSINESS: It's hard to make a natural pivot from one of the seismic elections in the history of global politics to our 2016 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium, but here goes. One theme that will come up - in this day of more specific data and analytics, how did every major mainstream news and data outlet get this election wrong? As GOP pollster Mike Murphy tweeted: "Data died tonight.” Or, per Mark Halperin: “Data may not be dead. But bad data should be dead.”

    THE "FAN-FIRST FUTURE": That's the theme of the conference – how fans will control their sports experience to a greater degree in the future. That's how the event will kick off with an address from Momentum Worldwide CMO Kevin McNulty, and the always-engaging Dr. Rich Luker will elaborate on that theme by looking at trends he is seeing in how fan engagement will change in the next decade. Luker, by the way, has said he doesn’t believe the NFL’s ratings troubles this year can be attributed to the presidential election. We’ll see if he still holds that belief after the results that we all saw last night. The morning will end with three straight sessions: a table-setter that looks at a cross-section of sports and the issues that top executives are concerned about; a look at how millennials are watching sports (no, not a new topic!); and finally an examination of the various platforms that consumers are engaging with to get their sports fix. 

    A QUICK LISTEN: For more on what to expect today, check out this quick podcast from SBJSBD’s Abe Madkour, Terry Lefton and Ross Nethery. An excerpt from Lefton: “I don’t know anyone under 20 or 25 that watches a whole game anymore. That would suggest a redefinition of the entire business. I think marketers know how powerful digital and social are. In terms of harnessing them, they might not be there yet but they need to get there and figure out how to combine the power of sports with digital and social to get their message across.”

    HOPE YOU'RE RESTED AND READY: Despite a lot of bleary eyes from a late night of watching election results, attendees should be ready for a full day. We’ve got eleven sessions, not including the networking breaks and receptions. So saddle up for a long, but productive, ride.

    BIG PAPI IN THE HOUSE: There are too many to list -- pressure filled moments where David Ortiz delivered time and again for the Red Sox. We remember his game-winning home run off Yankees reliever Paul Quantrill to spark the Red Sox' historic comeback in 2004. And the next night when he hit another game winner to take the series back to the Bronx. You also can't forget Ortiz hitting a dramatic game-tying grand slam in the 2013 ALCS into Boston's bullpen that led to Boston police officer Steve Horgan raising his arms in celebration. And who could forget his words to the city of Boston after the Marathon bombing and his emotional farewell last month at Fenway Park. Whatever the moment, Big Papi always seemed to step up – and we expect him to deliver again when he and his agent, Alex Radetsky chat with SBJ/SBD’s Lefton about athletes building their brand.  Should be a fun one, and, yes, expect some form of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” to play throughout the day.

    If you want a quick refresher on Ortiz’s career, check out his most memorable moments from MLB.com, and his 10 defining moments from the Boston Herald.

    WHAT’S YOUR ‘BEST MOMENT’?: In honor of Ortiz joining us at the conference, sponsor Omnigon has created a poll showcasing 14 of his best career moments. Stop by their booth to vote, and drop off a business card for a chance to win a week using their new PollPro fan engagement platform.

    GAME RESULTS: Though most eyes were on the election, there were some games that NY-area residents were watching. The Devils beat Carolina 3-2, while the Canucks took the Rangers 5-3. And in the NBA, the Nets beat Minnesota 119-110.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and the program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play store by following this link, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    YOUR THOUGHTS MATTER: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators by using the SMS app or by texting SBJSBD to 22-333.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference from our Twitter handle, @SBJSBD, and using the hashtag #sbjsms. Be sure to also follow Momentum’s #fansourced hashtag.

    The social action got started early for this one, with title sponsor Momentum Worldwide tweeting out a variety of poll results and questions that had fans weighing in. Here’s a sample: 
    @MomentumWW: Sports fans welcome brands but say brands don't care about them Let's fix it. Join the discussion @ our Sports Symposium.
    That drew responses such as:
    @DanaLovesRacing: Curious if #NASCAR fans feel that sponsor don't care about them.  What say you??
    @usmckennysgt: in general I think NASCAR sponsors are in it for them not fans advertising but a few sponsors really do care about fans
    Which in turn drew this response from Camping World CEO @marcuslemonis: What a bummer that people think this.

    Help us keep the conversation going today and we’ll recap some of the best posts in tomorrow’s email.

    In addition, check out conference sponsor Twitter’s social feed in the exhibit area outside the ballroom. We’ll also be putting select posts on the main ballroom screen throughout the day. And Twitter will have a selfie mirror on hand for attendees to test drive.

    CAUGHT ON VIDEO: We’ll also be posting links to a series of videos that Momentum will do today on a studio set they have created just outside of the ballroom. They’ll be talking to prominent speakers, attendees and moderators. We’ll keep you posted as those are done and become available. And we’ll be showing vignettes in the ballroom throughout the day that Momentum recorded with fans talking about how they feel about sports, athletes and sponsors.

    HOT TICKETS: Our gold sponsor, Seaters, works with teams and their sponsors to drive a higher ROI on every seat. Talk to them at the Seaters booth and, while you’re there, get your name on the list to win Hamilton tickets for Thursday night. SMS attendees who signed up early using the link in our previous emails (you did do that, didn’t you?) already had the chance to win seats to last night’s Rangers/Canucks game and tonights Knicks/Nets tilt.

    SIGNED BY THE CAPTAIN: The Players' Tribune, sponsor of today’s networking reception at 5:30, will be giving away signed Derek Jeter baseballs to a couple of lucky winners. Drop off your card at one of the bars, and then show up tomorrow morning to find out if you’re a winner.

    STRAIGHT FROM IRELAND: Tullamore D.E.W. is our afternoon break sponsor. They are doing an Irish whiskey tasting in the ballroom, facilitated by Tim Herlihy, Tullamore’s brand ambassador from Ireland. We know that 3:45 is a little early in the day, but it will be 5 o’clock somewhere.

    HOT CONTACTS: Finally, if you haven’t given our Resource Guide LIVE a try, sign up at our booth for a personal demo and a chance to win a full year of our continually updated sports business executive and company contact list.

    Tags: ING, Super Bowl, UPS, CES, Ally, GE, SEC, Ping, Media, NBC
  • Wrapping up SMT and Esports: So long from SoCal!

    Whew! What a couple of days. We know this sounds self-serving, but we’re going to say it anyway: The 2016 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference had a powerful lineup of speakers, good content and really good energy across one-and-a-half days. This was the first time that we’ve taken this conference to the Left Coast. Early vibes are that it won’t be the last.

    BROTHER ACT: Much of the buzz on Day 2 of the conference centered on Universal Filmed Entertainment’s Jeff Shell, who opened the day with his brother, IMG College’s Dan Shell, to talk about sports, movies and growing up as brothers. But we were most impressed with the Shells’ mom, Susan, who had a seat in the front row. Susan laughed when moderator John Ourand said that he would try to keep the Shell boys in line. “Good luck,” she said. “I haven’t been able to do that for 51 years.” Soon enough, the two bickered over who was the better basketball player (Dan has never beaten his older brother in one-on-one; but the last time they played Dan was 11) and Jeff’s plan to enter a media bubble today. You see, Jeff has a meeting today that conflicts with the Dodgers’ NLDS game, so Dan noted that Jeff will be “going into his bubble” from 2:30-8:00pm PT, screening all calls and tuning out all media in an attempt to not hear any scores until he can settle in front of his TV tonight to watch a recording of the game. Dan: “It’s ridiculous.” Jeff: “I have my assistant screen all my calls. Anyone who engages me during this time, I begin any conversation with ‘please don't tell me what the Dodgers score is.’ And then there are only three or four people that can pierce that bubble.”

    MOVIES BEHIND SPORTS: It wasn’t all family bickering. From his perch atop a movie studio, Jeff offered a unique view of the sports business. He has a long history in sports before moving over to feature films, handling the RSN business for Fox Sports and then Comcast. He said of the parallels between the movie and sports businesses, “The movie business will evolve like the sports business has, where you can watch on different devices in different places. But we’re way behind where the sports business is.”

    THE SAX MAN: We’re jaded journalists. There’s not much that gets us going. But when you’re eating dinner in an L.A. restaurant next to one of your wife’s favorite musicians, even the most hardened journalist will soften a little bit… goo.gl/arbkwA

    SPOTTED ON THE FOX LOT: Colin Cowherd stopped by Jamie Horowitz’s lunch table in the cafeteria at Fox Studios on Thursday, and you’ll never guess what they talked about: Ratings! They talked about ratings for Cowherd’s radio simulcast. They talked about ratings for Cowherd’s TV show. The talked about ratings for Cowherd’s podcast. FS1’s growing ratings was a big theme of Horowitz’s remarks at the conference on Wednesday, and it’s obvious that Fox is proud of them.

    #NFL #TWITTER #PLEASED: The migration of live sports video to mobile, and how best to make money from it, was a main theme during The Digital Play panel Thursday morning. Twitter’s NFL deal was Example A for this, and we had the social media company’s head of sports content partnerships, Laura Froelich, on site to discuss it. “We’ve really been pleased with the coming to fruition of the dream we had,” she said. “Our audience has this insatiable appetite for NFL content. They’re always talking about the games, not only around the game windows but all week long.” Froelich also pitched her company as the place where brands can improve loyalty with consumers. “We found brands that respond to customers on Twitter generate more loyalty and spend more on those brands than they otherwise would have. Sports teams and leagues can learn from that.”

    #NFL #TWITTER #WE’LLSEE: One of the smartest minds in the business, NBC Sports Group’s Rick Cordella, has seen Twitter’s NFL numbers around the CBS games. Still, he said it will be “fascinating” to see what kind of effect Twitter has on his network when Twitter streams the NBC “Thursday Night Football” games later this season. “We’ve streamed the NFL since 2008,” he said. “People come to our app for it. I’m curious to see if it’s incremental. If it’s big, great. Our ads run through Twitter, so we’ll make money off of it. It’s an experiment and we’ll see where it goes.” Chris Wagner, executive vice president for NeuLion, already has seen some positive effects from the deal. “We power the NFL Game Pass to follow your team on any device,” he said. “We see the Twitter activity driving more awareness that we can use to drive more subscriptions to the Game Pass.” Eric Weinberger, president of the Bill Simmons Media Group, on the NFL broadcasting games over Twitter: “It’s the right thing to do. The technology is there. The young consumer wants it. I don’t know if the number even matters. It’s the right thing to do and the consumer knows that.”

    ESPORTS: This conference never devoted an afternoon to esports before. Heck, we didn’t even know what esports was a year ago. (We kid! We kid! … Well, kind of.) On Thursday, we devoted the entire afternoon to the esports forum, and were impressed with the size of the crowd and the passion they had. It’s clear there is a thirst for knowledge about what esports is and how media companies and sponsors can work in that space. Here are some of the more interesting comments we heard yesterday afternoon:

    ARBY’S! ARBY’S! ARBY’S: One of the things that most impressed Eleague general manager Christina Alejandre after her league’s inaugural season was the way fans supported the league’s sponsors. She referenced one sponsor, Arby’s, that enjoyed “double digit lifts” in brand awareness because, she said, the fast food chain created a bond with the young-male fan base. “We had people in the audience chanting, ‘Arby’s!’,” she said. “How many sporting events do you go to where people are chanting names of sponsors? We had hundreds of thousands of tweets about the Arby’s commercials.”

    WHAT WENT WRONG: Working around the schedules of other, completely unrelated tournaments in its chosen game title, “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” and dealing with frequent roster changes — and even entire teams moving to other organizations — were two of the most frequent problems Eleague officials had last season. "We had to make adjustments constantly,” Alejandre said. “With traditional stick-and-ball sports, you have a schedule for your season and it doesn't change.” ELeague made several changes to the concept for season two, including cutting the competition schedule from four nights weekly to two, and cutting the season from 10 weeks to five. That will mitigate player fatigue and simplify scheduling, she said.

    THE ESPN OF ESPORTS: Twitch remains best positioned to benefit from the influx of e-sports interest, according to Dave Rosenberg, Chief Strategic Officer, Client Services for GMR Marketing. “Twitch is the ESPN of esports,” he said. “Just like ESPN has had other networks come in and get some viewer eyeballs, I think Twitch knows that will happen and will improve their product. We have to realize that’s a global audience and there will be competitors, but I think they will be successful.” Rosenberg called the recent spate of esports investments by traditional sports league owners a good sign. “I think it’s what the industry needs,” he said. “We think it will be a very positive thing for e-sports and gaming.”
    By the way, we’ve set up a link for you to download a pdf of the extensive supporting material that Rosenberg used during his half-hour presentation.

    ENGAGE: Everyone talks about “fan engagement” as one of the biggest benefits of esports. Yesterday, we heard numbers about that engagement, and it made our jaws drop. “Esports offers a level of engagement that doesn’t exist in traditional sports,” said Seton Kim, creative director at Troika. He then preceded to show a clip offering a fan’s view from a football stadium seat versus the first-person perspective of a video game. “Even from a floor seat at the game you’re a passive spectator,” he said. “But in esports we can see what the gamer sees, the moves they make, the choices they’re making. You can see their tactics and how we can improve our own games.” The best way to engage esports fans requires more than just putting out a broad marketing effort. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all group,” Rosenberg said. The key is to target different groups, whether they play games or watch others compete. “The ability to I.D. and target specific segments of esports fans is critical,” he said.

    THEY SAID IT:
    “We’re looking for a permanent workspace. Bill has been working out of his garage a lot.” – Weinberger, when asked what he’ll be focusing on in the next year.

    “I learned two weeks ago that millennials take eight seconds to decide if they like something, while a goldfish takes nine seconds. So if you focus on millennials, you better be fast.” – Sportradar Founder and CEO Carsten Koerl on faster consumption patterns today.

    “Fans can earn in-game currency for live streaming the competition on Twitch. Breakaway gamers will get paid to watch. They’ve turned spectating into active engagement.” – Kim, on how esports is turning pay-per-view on its head:

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: We had great audience participation during the conference, including plenty of questions for our speakers and plenty of comments on social media. Here’s a special thanks to our most frequent tweeters yesterday: @SportsTechLaw, @CarmiAmanda, @EHallsports, and @GMRMarketing.

    Here are a few of the tweets that caught our eye:
    @nycsf: Had a great time! Met brilliant minds in #sports and fantastic business meetings. Thank you @sbjsbd
    @CarmiAmanda: The ability to switch from 1st to 3rd person live would change how and what content I personally consume. Very cool! @danielfnovak
    @AmandaShank: LOL to #sbjsmt playing Will Smith's "Wild Wild West" to close out the #esportsforum, fun space to continue to watch!
    @AndyA3: Interesting data on #eSports by GMR--full report available at gmrmarketing.com/esportsforum
    @colsey: Happy to see F1 at this conference. #sbjsmt. Pit pass for Austin pleeease
    @joefav: Informal poll #sbjsmt on topic least relevant in 5 yrs. Ratings. Asked on every panel yest, measurement will be totally different
    @AmbDana: Very proud of my brothers! Sports is imp for diplomacy: commercially and brings people together like nothing else.

    ONLINE INTERVIEWS: Be sure to check out all of the videos we did from the SMT Live set, streaming on demand at smtlive.neulion.com. Among those added since yesterday: Dan Shell, Dan Novak and Michael Calderon.

    COMING UP NEXT: We’ll see you Nov. 9-10 for the Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium in New York City.

    THAT’S A WRAP: We’ll end with a story that brought the biggest laughs of the conference – a story of Jeff Shell’s bar mitzvah. (Shell’s mom confirmed it, so we know it’s true.) His 1978 bar mitzvah was scheduled the same day as a Dodgers-Yankees World Series game. Shell has always been a huge Dodgers fan. In fact, he was a key figure in Fox’s acquisition of the Dodgers in ’98. He was distraught that he would miss the game, so he came up with a plan. He positioned two friends with transistor radios at the back of the synagogue – one on each aisle. The friend on the left was assigned to the Dodgers; the friend on the right was assigned to the Yankees. At the end of each half inning, the boys would hold up their fingers, giving Shell the score. We asked Shell’s mom if he got in trouble for this. She said she didn’t find out about it until long after the fact.

    Tags: Ping, ING, Neulion, Media, Ally, IMG, GE, Basketball, NFL, ATT, Fox, Comcast, CES
  • Live from Manhattan Beach: Sun, Fun, Media and Tech

    We took the 2016 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference on the road, to a place where MLB playoff games start at 5 p.m., and the pre-game preparations (i.e., wings and beer) start even earlier. The sun is shining on the Manhattan Beach Marriott, the temperature is just right (natch) and the palm trees are swaying in an ocean breeze. Not a bad place to gather for some lively conversation and renewing auld acquaintance.

    BALLMER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Day one of the conference featured a who’s who of sports execs that, as one attendee put it, was “worthy of a World Congress.” We opened with Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who quickly caught our ear by affirming that his team is thinking hard about a finding a new home when its Staples Center deal expires. “Of course there is,” Ballmer said when moderator John Ourand asked him on stage if there is any truth to reports of scouting sites and meeting with architects. “When you have 7or 8 years left on your lease, at least the last time I checked with my friends in the real estate business, you'd better have an option other than just going back to your current landlord hat in hand.” The news about the team considering its own arena was first leaked to the media by unnamed sources in July. Ballmer has had to get accustomed to that kind of news leak after spending a career in the locked-down tech industry. Ballmer: "Sports business is noisier and chattier than anything I’ve ever seen, and I think that’s partly because you have so many different participants in the chain.” Ourand drew chuckles from the crowd when he responded: "I like to think it’s good reporters. Keep it up, guys."

    Ballmer also said he has no intention of trying to influence how Clippers players might respond to the national anthem protest started by 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, but that he hopes whatever they do will be as a team. Ballmer: “I'm not going to tell people to think X or think Y. I'm not going to tell our players they should be more or less outraged.”

    The day also featured interviews with Fox Sports’ Eric Shanks and Jamie Horowitz, NFL Network’s Brian Rolapp, and Steve Bornstein, a media veteran who is now chairman of Activision Blizzard. Look for more from them in SportsBusiness Daily and Monday’s SBJ.

    THE MEDIA PLATFORM: During the closing session of day one, ESPN SportsCenter co-host Stan Verrett had the crowd’s rapt attention when he talked about his own on-air reaction to Kaepernick’s anthem protest: “I knew if I told the truth and presented the information in a way that people could understand it and be empathetic, the reaction would take care of itself. I addressed the problems that he may have been speaking to that go beyond police brutality, that include housing discrimination, hiring discrimination, salary discrimination. Things I’ve seen and I’ve experienced. And I shared my parents’ story (and the racial discrimination they faced over the years).” He added, “The problems aren’t being addressed, so you have to do something to get people to say, ‘Stop! Pay attention to this. It’s real and it’s important.’ I didn’t hear anything about it before or since from management at ESPN.”

    ABOUT READY TO COMMIT: Veteran journalist and author James Andrew Miller, who moderated the panel of sportscasters that included Verrett, said that while his current focus is working on the paperback edition of his book, “Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency,” he’s already thinking about his next book. But he wouldn’t reveal the subject, saying that right now it is just “lurking in the background.” Miller: “The nature of these books is, you can’t date them, you have to marry them. So you have to really think about, are you ready to go on the long haul with it? But I’m almost ready to get on my knees and propose.”

    WHEN IN L.A.: PR Consultant Joe Favorito, based in the N.Y. area, made the most of his trip west to SMT, also visiting the set of Fox’s new TV drama, “Pitch.” The show imagines the first female pitcher to reach the major leagues, is based around a fictionalized version of the San Diego Padres, and includes veteran stage and screen actor Dan Lauria. Favorito has a long history and friendship with Lauria, having worked together on several prior projects, including the ’10-11 Broadway play “Lombardi.” Already positive on the show's chances, Favorito came away even more impressed after his visit.

    By the way, we’re naming longtime PR hands Favorito and Lou D’Ermilio to our “All-Lobby Team, Manhattan Beach Marriott Division.” The two were fixtures in the hotel lobby on Wednesday, taking the art of networking to new heights.

    DATA FRIENDLY: Among the most popular executives yesterday afternoon was Sportradar founder and CEO Carsten Koerl. The sports data company has been one of the fastest growing companies of any type in the industry, landing in the last two years a series of major league partnerships, including a recently announced deal with the NBA, and investments from Ted Leonsis’ Revolution Growth, Mark Cuban and Michael Jordan. But until his one-on-one interview at SMT with staff writer Eric Fisher, Koerl had made very few U.S. public appearances. Koerl disclosed he is in the process of moving from Switzerland to New York to keep closer to his mushrooming American operations.

    SPOTTED: Following Rolapp’s Q&A, Seth Davis ran up to speak with the NFL executive as he exited the stage. Both Rolapp and Davis grew up outside of Washington, D.C. Davis, who now works for Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, told Rolapp that the best athlete he has ever covered was Rolapp’s sister back in high-school.

    THE PAST IS ALWAYS WITH US: We didn’t bring this up on stage, but longtime media PR man and Detroit native Jim Boyle tells us that one of our speakers was nicknamed “Balls” in high school, where he was the student manager of the Detroit Country Day School basketball team. That former student manager is Ballmer, who now manages at quite another level as owner of the Clippers. “It was a small boys’ school (turned co-ed my senior year),” said Boyle, “so we all knew each other.”

    ALL IN THE FAMILY: Day two starts with the Shell brothers, Dan (IMG College) and Jeff (Universal Filmed Entertainment Group) in an interview with Ourand. Ourand will have extra pressure to be nice, as the brothers’ proud mom will be in the crowd. Oh, and it’s Jeff’s birthday. We’ll also take a close look today at content creation in a multi-platform world and, with this afternoon’s E-Sports Forum, a deep dive into one of the most exciting areas of the industry.

    THE UNOFFICIAL OPENER: Proskauer hosted about 30 SMT attendees on the Lakeview Lawn at the Manhattan Beach Marriott on the night before the conference started. The gathering was hosted by partner Rob Freeman and included a premium bar and a series of passed hors d’oeuvres, such as Ahi tuna on wonton crisps, buffalo chicken empanadas, and miniature beef wellington and vegetable spring rolls. Along with the five Proskauer employees at the event was a large contingent from SBJ and an assortment of other SMT attendees, including Steve Horowitz and Kyle Charters of Inner Circle Sports.

    ENJOYING THE BEACH VIBE: Conference sponsor NeuLion hosted a VIP dinner last night at The Strand House on the main drag in Manhattan Beach. In addition to Alaskan halibut and a grilled filet, attendees were treated to beautiful beach views and a dessert called “Bonfire at the Beach”: graham cake, house-made marshmallows, chocolate mousse, toasted mallow ice cream and smoked sea salt. Even with a view of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean, many attendees kept their eyes on Wednesday night’s Giants-Mets tilt. Top executives like Facebook’s Dan Reed, NBC Sports Group’s Rick Cordella and Needham and Co.’s Laura Martin mingled with on-air talent Dan Hellie and Heather Cox for cocktails and dinner.

    A BIG ‘O’ NO: An SBJ squad including Ourand, Fisher, managing editor Ross Nethery and SBD assistant managing editor Austin Karp took in the AL Wild Card Game at a local Manhattan Beach sports bar on Tuesday night. Ourand and Karp are diehard Orioles fans, and were crushed with the club’s dramatic 5-2 walkoff loss to Toronto in 11 innings. But we enjoyed our happenstance meeting with David Sterrenburg, the stepfather of Orioles P Chris Tillman, who started the game for Baltimore and grew up here in Southern California. Sterrenburg was seeking a bit more solitude to watch the game than he would have found among a throng of family and friends who were at his home.

    THEY SAID IT:
    — — “We happily conceded the DVD rights back to the NCAA.” Turner Sports Exec VP & GM Matt Hong, on Turner’s extension with the NCAA Tournament in ’16 vs. the original deal in ’10.
    — — “I’m not a Cubs fan, so I can jinx them like that.” T-Mobile CMO Andrew Sherrard, after saying that a Cubs World Series victory would be huge for the carrier.
    — — “Everybody that competes with news is feeling the impact.” Fox Sports’ Shanks during a discussion about NFL television ratings.
    — — “If there’s one sport that can maybe challenge soccer on a global scale, it’s e-sports.” Bornstein.
    — — “This relationship with SI also fulfills a lifelong dream of being colleagues with Richard Deitsch.” Horowitz, taking a good-natured jab at the Sports Illustrated writer who has been a frequent critic of Fox Sports’ opinion-based programming. SI and Fox Sports recently struck a broad-based digital content and sales partnership.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: We had a lot of help keeping the conversation going during Day 1 of the conference. Here’s a special nod to our most frequent tweeters: @joefav, @brianlring, @CU_SPS_Sports, @robertdgray and @paulkaps. Be sure to follow the hashtag #sbjsmt to keep up with today’s events.
    Here are some of the tweets that caught our eye:
    @grossman: Nice to see @sbjsbd #sbjsmt sports media/tech summit hopping here in LA. Great industry who's who. Look forward to taking the stage tomorrow
    @derekeh: Whatever @Steven_Ballmer puts in his coffee I want some. #funenergy and good chat about my @LAClippers.
    @burbunny: So awesome that esports are a key part of the discussion at sports industry conferences
    @VPersinger: Started day w/ @LAClippers Steve Ballmer, ended w/ a great panel by well known sports media personalities, good convo in btwn.
    @brianlring: @JennyTaft says 'I don't love to tweet during the game' and then @DanHellie tells nightmare story that justifies her fear
    @paulkaps: Great take from longtime sports TV exec Steve Bornstein on Twitter's NFL experience: "it was great -- it looked like tv.”
    @CarmiAmanda: 360 replay technology by @intel in partnership with @MLB has to be the coolest thing I've seen from a sports fan standpoint.

    SMT ON-DEMAND: Be sure to check out our SMT LIVE interviews, produced by NeuLion at a studio set up in the conference exhibit area. Among his many duties at the conference (from panelist to dinner host), NeuLion’s Chris Wagner is also a part of most of the interviews, along with several SBJ/SBD staffers. You can see the interviews at http://smtlive.neulion.com. We’ve already posted sessions with Shanks, Cox, Koerl, Hong, Toshi Suzuki, Sandra Lopez and David Preschlack.

    BIG WEEK FOR SPORTS BUSINESS: We may be the best sports business conference going on this week, but we’re by no means the only one. Leaders, an SBJ sister company, is hosting its Sport Business Summit at Chelsea FC in London. You can catch up with some of the happenings there by following the hashtag #Leaders16. Meanwhile, The Vatican is hosting a summit focusing on Sport at the Service of Humanity, which includes many folks who are also regulars at our conferences. Check out this item from Morning Buzz for some of the happenings around the event.

    Tags: Neulion, Media, MLB, ING, ATT, Marriott, Microsoft, Staples, GE, CES, ACC, NFL, Fox, NFL Network
  • Live from Minneapolis: A Tipping Point for Ticketing?

    The discussion at the '16 AXS Ticketing Symposium on Thursday ran the gamut, at times going heavy on the future of ticketing systems — from fully open distribution to more controlled — with an emphasis on the technology powering the industry, while at other times offering a big dose of inspiration. The room stayed full and the crowd engaged throughout as we brought our three-day event to a close in Minneapolis.

    FUTURE OF THE SEASON TICKET?: Discussion about shifts in the industry sparked an on-stage debate regarding the future of the season ticket, which traditionally has been a financial lifeblood for the entire sports industry. Rob Sine of IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions  argued that over time "traditional ticket models, traditional ticket packages, are going to be gone. Not only is how people are buying changing, but what people are buying." But the NBA's Amy Brooks cited record levels of season ticket sales around her league for the upcoming '16-17 season. "I don't think traditional ticket packages are going way," she said. "But teams are including other elements and incorporating value in other ways."

    GAME-TIME DECISIONS: Consumers want to make their buying decisions in their own way and on their own schedule, which is helping drive changes in technology and philosophy. "We're very motivated and influenced by things like the shared economy and last-minute decision making," said Greg Mize of the Atlanta Braves. The club has worked with Experience over the past several seasons on a variety of mobile efforts, many of which are powered through MLBAM's Ballpark app. Added ReplyBuy's Josh Manley, "Today's fans want instant gratification. They don't want to jump through hoops. SeatGeek's Russ D'Souza told the audience that his firm's data shows that 30 percent of all tickets sold in sports are now being transacted on the day of the game.

    The discussion at the '16 AXS Ticketing Symposium on Thursday ran the gamut, at times going heavy on the future of ticketing systems — from fully open distribution to more controlled — with an emphasis on the technology powering the industry, while at other times offering a big dose of inspiration. The room stayed full and the crowd engaged throughout as we brought our three-day event to a close in Minneapolis.

    FUTURE OF THE SEASON TICKET?: Discussion about shifts in the industry sparked an on-stage debate regarding the future of the season ticket, which traditionally has been a financial lifeblood for the entire sports industry. Rob Sine of IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions  argued that over time "traditional ticket models, traditional ticket packages, are going to be gone. Not only is how people are buying changing, but what people are buying." But the NBA's Amy Brooks cited record levels of season ticket sales around her league for the upcoming '16-17 season. "I don't think traditional ticket packages are going way," she said. "But teams are including other elements and incorporating value in other ways."

    GAME-TIME DECISIONS: Consumers want to make their buying decisions in their own way and on their own schedule, which is helping drive changes in technology and philosophy. "We're very motivated and influenced by things like the shared economy and last-minute decision making," said Greg Mize of the Atlanta Braves. The club has worked with Experience over the past several seasons on a variety of mobile efforts, many of which are powered through MLBAM's Ballpark app. Added ReplyBuy's Josh Manley, "Today's fans want instant gratification. They don't want to jump through hoops. SeatGeek's Russ D'Souza told the audience that his firm's data shows that 30 percent of all tickets sold in sports are now being transacted on the day of the game.

    GATHERING PLACE: The millennial generation is all about getting a group of six to eight friends together and making a decision on how to be entertained on a Friday night, and that's where aggregators are making headway in the ticketing space, said GameTime's Brad Griffith. In a further sign of fragmentation, GameTime's data shows that about 80 percent of consumers using its system to search for tickets do not use StubHub, the market leader for purchasing tickets on the secondary market. "With the rise of mobile, it's a much different experience ... and it's about how do we make it easy for people to make that decision," Griffith said. "We recognize those age 18 to 24 have an enormous value to the team."

    DEEP IN THE DATA: While technology can help make ticketing transactions easier, it's just as important to know what to charge, and even who to target. Teams have so much data available to them these days that it is easy to get lost in the weeks. The Charlotte Hornets' Chris Zeppenfeld said that during the summer, he was spending as much as 50% of his time working with his staff to figure out how best to use the available analytics. Kore Software's Russell Scibetti added that it isn't just analyzing the data that is important, but figuring out an effective way to communicate what it means, "or it doesn't take a form that you can take action on."

    ROLE REVERSAL: In a 45-minute discussion themed "people, development, recognition," executives from the 76ers and Devils talked about developing a successful corporate culture. 76ers/Devils/Prudential Center CEO Scott O'Neil talked about a program in which the team's managers switch roles with other staffers within the organization for a game, taking on roles as ushers and other arena workers. "When you wear a fancy suit or a fancy tie, everyone will pay attention to you and look you in the eye and want to talk with you," he said. "But then you switch spots and be an usher for a game, or security for game, and no one wants to talk to you, or look you in the eye or engage you. People can make you feel like you don't matter. So, for our executive staff or managers to serve in that role for a night can be very humbling, and you learn what other's experience is like and it helps us stress to them how we all work together and tell people they are valuable to the success of the organization."

    THEY SAID IT:

    — "Ticketing hasn't really innovated until the last five or six years. The consumer has demanded it." AXS CEO Bryan Perez.
    — "My friends are shocked that I'm at sports events now. Aren't those the people that beat us up in high school?" ShooWin founder/CEO and Broadway producer Brisa Trinchero.
    — "I think that will change rapidly." AEG Sports/L.A. Kings' Kelly Cheeseman, saying teams will soon know more than the traditional 20% of their audience in the building.

    ALL ABOUT THE SOCKS: The Sixers' Jake Reynolds was sporting some trendy socks with an image of Allen Iverson, commemorating Iverson's Hall of Fame induction.

    BIG FANS OF THE CAVS: Cavs/Quicken Loans CEO Len Komoroski talked about the global following of the team on Twitter and said one of the strongest markets of followers of the team has been the Philippines.

    HELLOOOO CLEVELAND!: Komoroski also touted the rub-off impact of the Cavs' title, and cited a survey that showed that 75% of Clevanders now recommend Cleveland to a friend, up from 54% in 2015 and 34% in 2012. The big jump, of course, came after the Cavs won the NBA Finals.

    SEEN & HEARD: The NBA's Brooks visited the new Golden 1 Center in Sacramento last week. It was a special visit for her, as she is a native of the city. O'Neil said he plans on visiting  next week. Early buzz on the building is very positive.

    HEINEMAN'S BREAKFAST CLUB: If you're ever interviewing for job with Sporting KC's Robb Heineman, don't get flustered.  He talked about his hiring test, which includes going to breakfast with a job candidate and telling the server to bring the job candidate the wrong order. "You just want to see their reaction and how they handle a problem," he said. "If they don't say anything, that's not good. It's pretty telling. You see a lot of fun responses."

    TAKE A LOOK: In yesterday's email, we mentioned a few of the facilities videos that we've seen this week. Here are links to two of them: the Vikings time lapse and the aerial video from the Little Caesars Arena construction site.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Thanks to everyone who used our conference hashtags — #sbjsff and #sbjtix — and kept the conversation rolling, particularly @PRyanTexas, @JeffYocum, @BillFagan and @rscibetti. Here are a few of the tweets we liked:
    @KTsportsmarket: Been in the #Sportsbiz for 20 years and it's still always cool when you get so do things like this. pic.twitter.com/W8BznqtWQX
    @JeffYocum: Great Covey quote from @ScottONeil culture panel this morning at #sbjtix. Always been a proponent of "sticking to the knitting".
    @breakground: Traditional season tix pax model dead? #NBA's Amy Brooks says no, record sales league-wide. #sbjtix pic.twitter.com/68GaslNfsN
    @PRyanTexas: Proud of our Eventellect #sbjtix scholarship winners and ready for a full day of learning and networking pic.twitter.com/2iohhzXozi

    SIGNING OFF FROM THE TWIN CITIES: We hope to see you in Manhattan Beach in two weeks for the 2016 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference.

    Tags: ING, GE, Ally, IMG, NBA, Ping, NFL, Atlanta Braves, MLB, MLBAM, Audi
  • Live from the Twin Cities: A Turn to Ticketing

    TRANSITION DAY: Wednesday was a day on the move in Minneapolis: After three morning panels, attendees took in US Bank Stadium, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Tour and Xcel Energy Center. All while tasting some great local fare. Today, we close out the conference with a full, intense day focused on ticketing and the latest trends.

    TROUBLING TIMES: We’ve been asked many times in the last 24 hours about events in Charlotte, where most of our staff is based in our corporate offices downtown. We very much appreciate all of the concern, and wanted you to know that we are okay and continuing to monitor the situation.

    SHINY AND NEW: With US Bank Stadium having hosted its first regular-season Vikings game last Sunday, the team’s Exec VP/CMO Steve LaCroix and Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment’s Jeff Knapple, who led the sales for the building, talked about some of the facility’s unique features before attendees took a tour. Clearly one of the most compelling areas is the row of 23 “turf suites” or field-level suites. The patio of each suite is covered with turf an on the same elevation as the playing surface to provide an experience that “literally spills out on to the field,” said LaCroix. The suite’s catering is baked into the prices, which start at $200,000. LaCroix: “The turf suites are a very interesting experience. You do have a lot of blocked views because you are behind the bench. But you get a lot of sights and sounds, and literally hear the action on the field and sidelines.”

    NOT AN ORDINARY GAME: LaCroix, who has worked for the Vikings for 16 years and has been a part of virtually all the team’s previous attempts for a new building, talked about how much Sunday night meant. “There were a ton of people around and mingling about,” he said. “But I really sat and focused on the game. I really wanted to take it all in. It was a great night.”

    IN THE OWNERS’ SUITE: Attendees wandered through the suite of the Wilf family, the owners of the team. Situated right on the 50-yard line, only 17 rows back from the field, it offers an up close and intimate look at the action. Family photos and those of key moments in the family’s ownership line the walls.

    DON’T WE ALL WANT A GJALLARHORN?: One favorite stop on the tour was the large Gjallarhorn, a true symbol of the Vikings and Nordic culture, that sits near the top of the building overlooking one endzone. If you watched Sunday night’s opener, you saw former coach Bud Grant sounding the horn and imploring the audience to make some noise. One Vikings employee said, “It was a magical experience.” Watch it here.

    FROM THE TOUR: Delaware North’s Rick Abramson and Bank of America’s Jim Nash chatting and commenting how much they liked the Club Purple and purple couches, which offered a great view of the fieldÖ..It’s easy to see that Sunday was extra special for the Vikings. During the tour, three days after the game, the final score from Sunday’s win against the Packers was still on the video boards: 17-14Ö.After the tour and before a buffet lunch provided by Aramark, Vikings COO Kevin Warren welcomed attendees, thanked them for coming and, in a classy gesture, said, “What we’d really appreciate from all of you is that if you have any ways that we can do things better or improve upon this building, please, please share it with us. Please let us know, because everything looks really good to us, but your feedback would mean a great deal.”

    DID YOU KNOW?: U.S. Bank features a 600 piece art collection, with 100 local artists who contributed to the effort.

    VIKES VIDEOS, TOO: Just to round out the Vikings’ successful stadium launch, here are links to some of the video production from last Sunday:
    ó Ahmad Rashad narrated this stadium-opening video that covers the history of the team and several “goosebump” moments.
    ó The Icelandic National Soccer team’s Viking War Chant went viral a few months back, and with the Viking-to-Viking tie-in, here’s the local version that will get better as fans further develop it.
    ó The Purple Rain segment, a tribute to Prince
    ó And a new pregame compilation, with Grant on the Gjallarhorn.

    GOIN’ MOBILE: About 100 attendees took a short bus ride out to the Mall of America to take in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tour, which has hit a few stops around the country and shows artifacts and the game’s history. It was a fun, easy experience, featuring a 12-minute IMAX film on the sport that had Red Sox co-Owner Tom Werner and Steelers minority owner and HOF board member Thomas Tull as executive producers. The exhibit features the world’s first and only traveling IMAX theatre. Minneapolis is the final stop on the tour, which looks to return next year.

    VIRTUAL BASEBALL: One of the highlights of our Hall of Fame was a virtual experience that put us on the field and in the stadiums with some major leaguers. While the tech drew a lot of oohs and ahhs, MLB Giants CIO Bill Schlough, who was out front with the San Francisco Giants when it comes to in-stadium technology, cautioned that it’s still early for the technology. “It reminds me of the early days when we had 100 fans using wifi,” he said. “Now we have 40,000 fans using our WiFi. The [VR] content is awesome. The viewers aren’t there yet.”

    RAISING THE TOUR GAME: We had great tours of two facilities on Wednesday. We covered much about the amazing new US Bank Stadium above, but we did want to note that when it comes to tours, Xcel Energy Center certainly knew who it was dealing with. Not only were we offered refreshments before the tour started, but we were given appetizers along the way, met with knowledgeable execs at every stop, had our individual faces put up on the center-hung scoreboard for selfies, AND allowed to galavant for a while on the ice. We’ve been on a lot of tours of a lot of facilities, on fields and courts, but never as a tour group allowed to slide around an NHL rink. Special thanks to Minnesota Sports and Entertainment COO Matt Majka, who welcomed us and talk about some of the history of the arena, as well as recent upgrades and future plans. 

    BLING! BLING!: Schlough wore his ’14 World Series ring to yesterday’s panel exploring the use of virtual reality to improve the fan experience at sports venues. It is Schlough’s third World Series ring, and the Tiffany & Co.-produced hardware includes an inscription of the Giants’ playoff results that year on the inside of the ring. Schlough, meanwhile, then got in his workout for the day during the subsequent tour of U.S. Bank Stadium, lugging around a backpack filled with more than 40 pounds of VR gear before he departed for the airport. 

    TARGET: FOOD: As we mentioned in yesterday’s email, one of the frequent comments we heard at the Target Field reception on Tuesday night was along the lines of: “You guys really, really ramped up your food game." But let’s give credit where it’s due: The culinary experience was overseen by a number of Delaware North executives, including Abramson and Carlos Bernal. By far the most talked about single item was the Red Cow 60/40 Sliders, which we were told are made with 60% angus beef and 40% bacon. The kitchen couldn't keep up with demand. But the rest of the menu was also fab: pork belly lotus buns, parmesan-and-herb stuffed flank steak, a mix of homemade pizzas, shrimp and polenta with smoked maple bacon, lobster spring rolls and a dessert cart that included bourbon pecan pie, a mix of cookies, peanut butter clusters, lemon meringue tart, fudge brownies, truffles and belgian waffles made to order. So, great food in a great setting ó the open porch overlooking center field ó plus a variety of drink options.

    BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: During this conference we feel like we’ve wandered from table to table, finding great food everywhere. At US Bank Stadium, we found tables laden with selections from Aramark and regional chef Robert Flowers, including a build-your-own prairie dog station, a Mediterranean rotisserie chicken sandwich, gigantic lemongrass chicken meatballs, grilled flank steak, Napa Valley marinated chicken breast, sour cream mashed potatoes, and dessert cakes that included molten chocolate, cheesecake, carrot cake and some fab red velvet cake.

    Then, for the night session at Xcel Energy Center, we gathered at tables filled with food from Levy Restaurants kitchens, including smoked trout unagi, an assortment of Mediterranean dips, spreads and flatbreads, crispy chickpea salad, butternut squash tahini, a table of housemade Bavarian pretzels, and bone-in pork carved on the spot to whatever size you wanted. And after passing by the tables, we occasionally hunted down the server with the platter of chicken-and-waffle pops with Fresno maple syrup. Yes, we are hunters and gatherers, just like our ancestors! None of our attendees will be able to say that they were anything but well fed during this conference.

    VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Facilities conferences lend themselves to great videos of new buildings, and we’ve noticed (and appreciated) the increasingly high quality and sophistication of the highlight reels that we’ve been shown lately. Three, in particular, were noteworthy from this week. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium reel from the Falcons did a great job of showing Arthur Blank’s vision for what he plans as one of the finest facilities in the world. The time-lapse video of the deconstruction of the Metrodome and construction of US Bank Stadium was fascinating to watch. And the ambition and immensity of Olympia Entertainment’s arena and development project in Detroit was amply displayed on the conference screens.

    THEY SAID IT:
    ó “Are we out of time yet?” LaCroix, when asked to discuss the Wells Fargo signage dispute around the development of U.S. Bank Stadium.
     ó [U.S. Bank] is going to be an amazing home field advantage for the Vikings. Having the doors open on Sunday night, when the sound was going out of the building, and it was still so loud, it was amazing. You weren’t hearing any ‘Go, Pack, Go’!’ here.” Knapple, whose agency led sales for U.S. Bank Stadium.
     ó “The easiest way to do VR today is to do animated VR. With the viewers, animation comes in crystal clear. Next is scripting and story telling. The future will be live, and that will be awesome.  I don’t know when it’s coming, but that’s the future I envision.” ñ Schlough
    ó “You don’t need a bag to go to an NFL game. It’s not a sleepover.” MSA Security’s Jeffrey Miller.
     ó “Matt, who has better hair? You or Scott?” Texted-in question from the audience to Cowboys VP/Brand & Media Matthew O’Neil, and referring to his brother, Scott.

    BREAKING NEWS: We always love it when news breaks at our events, and Austin-based mobile technology and POS solutions provider Bypass used the ’16 AXS Sports Franchises & Facilities conference to announce a wide-ranging partnership with MLB Advanced Media in which the company will help power mobile ordering and payments within MLBAM’s Ballpark app, including food and beverage purchases. More on this in today’s SBD.

    SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS: Eventellect is the official scholarship partner of the 2016 AXS Ticketing Symposium. To apply for the scholarship, students submitted their resume and a 250-word statement about why they are passionate about having a career in sports. The Eventellect Partnerships department read through all applications and selected the most qualified students. If you see these event scholarship winners throughout the day, be sure to welcome them. Winners and their universities:
    ó Jose Alvarado - South Florida
    ó Kate Burton - South Florida
    ó Sarah Hampton - Pennsylvania
    ó Alana Lawton - Texas
    ó John Martell - MIT
    ó Alexander McClelland - Pennsylvania
    ó Christopher McFadden - Temple
    ó Malique Micenheimer - Fresno State
    ó William Moore - Texas
    ó Sarah Neumann - Central Michigan
    ó Alyssa Reilly - Santa Clara

    Tags: Citi, ING, ATT, Baseball, Xcel Energy, CES, Apple, Ally, GE
  • Live from the Twin Cities: Facilities of the Future

    Almost 400 people packed into The Commons Hotel, just off the University of Minnesota campus, on a beautiful fall day in Minneapolis for the 2016 AXS Sports Facilities and Franchises conference. Tuesday’s discussion ran the gamut when it comes to running buildings, from on-the-ground concerns like food prices and security to broader issues, such as building a successful business culture.

    SETTING THE TABLE: The tone for the day was set by an opening panel of team presidents. Asked by moderator Abe Madkour to name what fans want most, the Twins’ Dave St. Peter laughed and said, “Better pitching.” But then he talked about what really has him up at night: Keeping games affordable in the face of rising ticket and concession prices. “I have a fear as to whether that model is sustainable in the long term,” he said. “We’re pricing out that family and that core audience.” Among other concerns from the panel: connectivity, security and fan behavior. “There are a lot of visiting teams’ fans traveling,” said the Packers’ Mark Murphy “which is great. But you combine that with tailgating and drinking and you end up with some issues.” It’s worth noting, though, that during a presentation on Mercedes-Benz Stadium later in the day, Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay addressed the claim that the team planned to make up for lower concession revenue with higher prices in other areas. “People kept suggesting there was an angle to this,” McKay said. “There is no angle to this. This was done for the right reasons and because the fans said it was the biggest thorn in their side.”

    NO BRAG, JUST FACT: “This project is going to be something that people are going to be writing a thesis on in college because it’s such a renaissance,” said Olympia Entertainment’s Tom Wilson at the end of a 30-minute preview of the impressive project to develop Little Caesars Arena and the surrounding 50 blocks in downtown Detroit. Wilson was joined by HOK’s George Heinlein as the two showed the early plans as well as the latest visuals attached to the new Red Wings arena and related development. “When you are walking down Woodward Avenue, you won’t be able to see the arena,” Wilson said. “You will see the outer buildings, and it will be like a great reveal when you go into that building into the arena.” One other benefit: The venue, a year away from opening, could change the fortunes for the Red Wings. Wilson: “It puts us back in the hunt for the major free agents in our sport.”

    HIGH PRAISE FOR DETROIT PROJECT: Turnkey Sports & Entertainment’s Len Perna, who worked for Olympia Entertainment from 1987-1994, was blown away by the “Motor City Makeover” presentation given by Wilson and Heinlein. Perna greeted both speakers after their session to offer congratulations and said later, "I worked there for seven years. That area they are redeveloping was really blighted, a really rough area. What they are doing is amazing. It's the most impressive project I've seen.” Another former Ilitch employee, Mike Veeck, said, “Wow! I worked for the Ilitch family. I’ve never been so proud! 50 blocks? That’s wonderful.”

    COMPETITIVE FIRE: The Los Angeles sports market is in historic transition with the return of the Rams, a new stadium being built in Inglewood, and the arrival of the LAFC club in Major League Soccer in ’18. The Galaxy’s Chris Klein said the team is already looking at further enhancements to StubHub Center. “We know there is a shiny new toy opening soon up the road,” Klein said of LAFC’s forthcoming Banc of California Stadium. “That’s why we’re going through the process now to upgrade where we can and provide a Disneyland-level experience.”

    ALWAYS KEEP ’EM LAUGHING: With the crowd full and relaxed after a buffet lunch, the always entertaining Veeck opened the afternoon with a session full of tall tales and one-liners. Veeck also signed copies of his book, “Fun is Good,” given away by conference sponsor Bleachr, which works with Veeck’s independent baseball team, the St. Paul Saints.
    A few of the best Veeck quotes:
    — “Innovation is what we pride ourselves on. Not to become focused about being politically correct, but when did it become so terrible to fail?
    — “It’s about laughter. That’s the business we are in. We are in the business of joy.”
    — “I am not really very talented. But I am very passionate about it.”

    THEY SAID IT:
    — “I try not to read a lot of media. And I don’t read social media. I tend to stay away from opinions. I will read the factual stuff.” — Twins owner Jim Pohlad, on monitoring fan sentiment.
    — “I think the Forbes valuations are incredibly low.” — Sporting KC owner Robb Heineman, on the publication’s recent MLS valuations.
    — “If you do voodoo night, do it on Friday the 13th. That’s cool. Don’t do it on Good Friday. That’s not cool. I don’t know how I missed that.”— Veeck
    — “Detroit has not been blessed with rapid transit. Maybe because the car companies wanted everyone to drive cars.” — Wilson
    — “It won't be small.” — Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, on planning the event to christen the team’s new stadium.
    — “When you’re on track to lose a hundred games….That was a relatively short discussion, I assure you.” — St. Peter, on deciding to hold the line on ticket prices next year.

    AS LONG AS BONO ISN’T THERE: McKay expressed relief in the Falcons getting a big win on the road last week in Oakland, an exciting 35-28 affair over the Raiders. “We needed that,” he said. “You never want to start 2-0.” Now the Falcons play Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in a game marking the tenth year anniversary of the Saints’ return from Hurricane Katrina. McKay remembered that night, a 23-3 blowout loss, and recalls the energy in the building. “I was walking on to the field, and Bono walks right past me,” he said, recalling U2’s dynamic performance that night (“The Saints Are Coming!”). “I knew right then it was going to be a long night for us.” If you don't remember it, ESPN’s promo spots for Monday will remind you.

    A TRIBUTE TO LAMAR: Asked how and why he bet on MLS 10 years ago when he purchased Sporting KC from the Hunt family, Heineman paid tribute to the sports business pioneer. “Our group had so much respect for Lamar Hunt,” Heineman said. “He truly believed soccer was going to make it in the United States, and he built the first soccer specific stadium for the Columbus Crew. He would continually tell us that the NFL wasn’t able to move forward until they got football specific stadiums, when you could control the sight lines and revenue and experience. And he said that would be the case with soccer.”

    NUMBER OF THE DAY: 29.4: The average age of Sporting KC season ticket holders.

    EVERYBODY WANTS SOME: Word has it that the Braves’ Mike Plant and Derek Schiller flew up to catch the Vikings opener at U.S. Bank Stadium and see the latest new building as they prepare to open SunTrust Park in about seven months. Conference attendees will see the building today.

    FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!: One attendee walked up to us last night at the Target Field reception, mouth half full, and said, “You guys really, really ramped up your food game.” It was a frequent theme among those that attended the Tigers-Twins pregame reception at new Twins-themed pub Minnie & Paul’s hosted by Delaware North Sportservice at Target Field. With more food on the way today, we figured we’d wait until tomorrow to give you a complete roundup of our SFF culinary adventures.

    GLAD TO BE THERE: In addition to watching the game, an 8-1 Tigers win, our attendees appreciated their public welcome, as the Target Field PA announcer offered a “Welcome To SportsBusiness Journal and their guests” during an inning break.

    GREAT PLACE TO MEET: Last night’s reception at Target Field represented a reunion of sorts for MLB Advanced Media’s Mark Plutzer and Clear’s Ed O’Brien. O’Brien worked with Plutzer at MLBAM from ’04-08. The two estimated it had been at least several years since they had last been in contact. O’Brien appeared earlier in the day on a panel regarding security issues for sports teams, leagues and venue operators.

    DRIVING REVENUE: Not only did the opening Sunday of the Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium generate rave reviews and plenty of discussion at yesterday’s conference, but it was also gold for local Uber drivers. One driver used last night following the Twins’ game at Target Field said Sunday night’s Vikings home opener represented his biggest day ever, with several post-game surge fares within the city and inner suburbs soaring past $100.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Thanks to everyone who helped us drive the discussion on social media yesterday, and especially for our frequent tweeters: @rscibetti, @JeffYocom, @handsonsports, @Jim_Kadlecek and @zim_az.
    A few tweets that caught our eye:
    @KTsportsmarket: Looks like there is some great content coming from #sbjsff I look forward to heading that way this evening, & joining in tomorrow.
    @zim_az: Great reminder from @mikeveeck to sports business crowd at @sbjsbd #sbjsff "we're in the business of joy.”
    @BrentHaag_DI: Thanks to @sbjsbd for interviewing @mikeveeck - so entertaining! #OutsideTheBox #LovePromos
    @JeffYocom: Amazing tenure on stage for Minnesota teams - 27 years for Dave St Peter w/@Twins and 25 years for Chris Wright w/@Timberwolves.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR WEDNESDAY: Teams creating and distributing their own media, the real opportunities of VR for the fan experience and a look at the recently opened U.S. Bank Stadium — those topics will be in focus on Wednesday morning before attendees hit the streets — literally.
    Three tours fill the afternoon: first a look at the Vikings highly-acclaimed Preview Center, followed by a tour of U.S. Bank Stadium and a lunch hosted by Aramark (we will have worked up an appetite after all that!); then a trip to the Mall of America for a tour of the new Hall of Fame exhibits and IMAX movie, and, finally, a tour of the Xcel Energy Center where attendees will be welcomed by Wild COO Matt Majka followed by a reception hosted by Levy Restaurants. We’ll definitely have to follow all of that with a trip to the cool University of Minnesota fitness center next door to the Commons Hotel, where we’re staying!

    WE GIVE, YOU TAKE: We’ve got an amazing 31 sponsors and exhibitors for this event (thank you all!). Be sure to stop by and visit with them for a few minutes and gather some free goodies. Among the giveaways is a signed Nolan Ryan jersey from Bypass (which is also giving away branded water bottles). And because you are all so hard-working, a few exhibitors will be giving away stress balls. Thanks to Bleachr for providing Veeck’s book to attendees.

    VOLUNTEERS: When you checked in to the conference, you probably received your name badge from one of our volunteers. If you get a chance, try to take the time to chat with them — they could be the future of our industry. Our volunteers for this event are from the University of Minnesota, El Camino College (Torrance, Calif.) and the Minnesota Wild.

    Tags: Citi, Facilities, Sports Facilities and Franchises, Franchises, ING, CES, SEC, Ally, Ping, Ford, USTA, Audi, Ugg, GE
  • Live from New York: Closing the curtain on Game Changers 2016

    MISSION STATEMENT: Progress. Long way to go. Be yourself. Speak up and be noticed. Deliver. Those were just some of the terms lobbed around during the fourth annual Game Changers conference in New York yesterday. More about the professional advancement of women than the viability of women's sports, the day had a feel that was part celebration, part reunion. What can't be questioned was the energy of the attendees and panelists -- a record 490 people -- to continue to move the ball forward. Put this event on your calendar and help us break the 500-attendee mark next year!

    FROM THE STAGE:
    — WWE’s Michelle Wilson, on the role model of Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman: “I was looking for people to look up to, and [when I was starting my career in 1996] there was only one: Val. There weren’t a lot of role models in executive positions, so I thank Val for being a role model and being a trail blazer.”

    — RSE Venture's Dawn Aponte: “When Bill Parcells was at the Jets, he really didn’t speak to me directly. He spoke through someone to me. It was somewhat bizarre. I was like, ‘I’m sitting right here.’ But, interestingly enough, Bill has been one of the greatest mentors and supporters of me, and he’s the one who hired me and brought me down to the Dolphins, and we maintained a relationship after he left the Jets.”

    — WNBA President Lisa Borders, summing up the talents of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “He’s a bad, bad man.”

    — Legends’ Nicole Jeter West on taking on an entire new area at the USTA in the digital world as a key step in her career: "Anytime it feels uncomfortable, or feels like you're getting out of your comfort zone, it has been the right step for me. Sometimes it doesn't always feel like the safe step, but it turns out to be the right one.”

    — MLS’ Maribeth Towers, to a question of whether anyone on the opening panel had accepted less pay for a position they really wanted: “Never a pay cut. Just on principle.”

    — Kraft Analytics Group’s Jessica Gelman, with career advice: “Find where there’s actually change happening. That’s where there’s opportunities. That’s where they’re looking for smart people who are motivated and aggressive.”

    — NBA’s Kathy Behrens, on whether players being outspoken on social issues will affect efforts at diversity: “I think it reminds you that you need to have a diverse workplace. You need to have that diversity of thought and background so that you can address issues and move forward.”

    — NHL’s Jessica Berman, on what it takes to change organizations: “Without changing that mindset of the people who are in the organization who created the situation we are in today, hiring women, even if they have a title, isn’t going to make a meaningful impact. If they are not in the room when those decisions are being made, then the outcomes are not going to be there and we’ll create a situation where people are going to say, ‘See, it didn’t matter. It didn’t change the outcome.’”

    START LOOKING DOWN: USOC CMO Lisa Baird talked about having influence on an organization in various ways and expressed frustration at SBJ's annual Most Influential list. “There is a value of looking up,” she said. “I used to always look up.” Then she called out SBJ, and looked at Exec Editor Abe Madkour in the audience and said, “Abe, I get so depressed when I see your Top 50 list. I mean, come on. So I stopped looking up, and I started looking down. I can do a lot to develop the women below me, to get them the attention they deserve, so they can move up.” When Ackerman said, “I want to add a point to that,” Baird interjected, “On how depressing their Top 50 list is?”

    BY THE NUMBERS: When Rich Luker presents a batch of analytics at one of our conferences, you can be sure that (1) he’s got the numbers down pat, and (2) what he tells you can be alternately depressing and encouraging. His three biggest takeaways from yesterday:
    — No 1: “The first is that we’ve crossed the tipping point for how we think about girls and sports. It’s no longer applicable to think of them as a distinctive group. They are athletes and they are fans.”
    — No. 2: “We are at a point in sports when we can no longer assume growth. It may take 10 or 15 years before we see that financially.”
    — No. 3: “Softball. If you want a good story, the fact that 16.1% of females 12 to 17 said the first sport they followed as a fan was softball is really powerful.”
    For more insights from Luker, see today’s SportsBusiness Daily.

    THE MYSTERY OF EDITH CUMMINGS: In the opening session, the USGA’s Sarah Hirshland talked about the historic role of women in sports and noted, "a woman golfer was on the cover of Time magazine in 1924." When asked who it was, she responded quickly and honestly, "I don't know,” and continued on with her point. Attendees immediately used their smart phones to help Hirshland out and answered the question for her: It was golfer Edith Cummings, who in 1924 was the first female athlete to appear on the cover of Time magazine.

    SEEN IN THE CROWD: Proskauer's Joe Leccese and Brad Ruskin, chatting up James and Co.’s Michele James and Roysi Erbes before taking in a session on diversity hiring that featured their colleague, Peter Wilson … NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum in the front row with other NBA execs for the sit-down with WNBA President Lisa Borders, and then running out after greeting well-wishers…. Univ. of Central Florida's Richard Lapchick, who took in the last few sessions with his students, who were in New York City meeting with leagues and media. They had sessions with NBA Commissioner Silver, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and ESPN President John Skipper over the last couple of days. Lapchick was greeted warmly by many in the room for his years of work toward racial and gender equality

    GAME CHANGERS FIRE DRILL: So it turns out that it wasn’t quite as easy as we thought to move the official Game Changers photo shoot from the end of the day to the beginning. Here’s a thank you to all of our Game Changers for their patience as we moved tables, chairs and people around to get the official photo. When our exacting photographer, Marc Bryan-Brown, finally got everyone arranged to his liking and began to shoot the photo, your applause didn’t sound in the least bit sarcastic! We especially liked it when Marc grabbed a microphone and said to the crowd milling about, “Are you all going to lunch? Or are you just going to stand around here and chat?” Good times! But it was all kind of a testimony to the spirit of the event: People enjoying each other’s company, happy to be there, and looking forward to doing it again.

    MENTORING CHALLENGE: Speaking of official photos, at the end of the day we shot the participants of the LeadDog Marketing Group’s Mentoring Challenge. We told you about this new program in yesterday’s morning email, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it bears fruit this year. Thanks to everyone who is participating! Click here to see the photo.

    MOVING AHEAD: With so many young people in the room, it’s natural that many of the panels included career advice for those who are looking to move up in the industry. In addition to Hirshland’s quote above, here are a few other pieces of advice that we noticed:

    — Hirshland: “I think in our minds it’s very easy for us to think, I need to look like, I need to act like, I need to think like everybody else in the room. Intuitively I think it’s just human nature, but it’s completely counter to the value that you actually can bring. And so you have to be conscious of that and resist that temptation.”

    — Aponte: “If you have a passion and desire to do something, don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from pursuing your goals and dreams. Map out your own path and hopefully you’ll get others around you to help you along the way.”

    — Gelman: “Be authentic to yourself. I started to be more open at work. In my case, it was about my sexuality. And it was hugely popular. People were like, ‘Oh, this makes sense.’ And they wanted to talk, and it changed the dynamic.”

    SOCIAL ANIMALS:
    As usual, the attendees at Game Changers were among our most prolific promoters on social media, helping us boost the event and get it trending on Twitter. Here are some of the tweets that caught our eye, but for a full list, check out the activity around the hashtag #sbjgc:
    @Maggie_nwww: Full room of inspirational women for the 2016 SBJ Game Changers conference.
    @stephrudnick: Love this @sbjsbd Gamechangers event every year, not just for the great discussion, but reuiniting w/ my tribe!
    @michbberg: Lisa Borders of @WNBA is an incredible role model for anyone in mktg, sports, or just biz. Wow.
    @MarkGressJr: Long, exhausting day but proud of @ProdigySportsLL and @arinsegal for having a presence and engaging in important dialogue.
    @ASit6: "I don't play favorites, I have favorites." - @WMEIMG_Speakers Jennifer Rudolph Walsh Loving her energy.
    @EMcVe: Listening to @WNBA Pres.Lisa Borders is truly inspiring. "Failure isn't fatal, it's feedback.”
    @GregJBusch: Kudos to @sbjsbd for the Game Changers platform and recognizing these incredible and talented #sportsbiz friends and colleagues

    NEXT CONFERENCE UP: We’ll be in Minneapolis next week for a look at the Vikings’ new stadium as part of the 2016 Sports Facilities & Franchises conference and Ticketing Symposium. For more on the event, click here.

    Tags: ING, GE, Game Changers, ATT
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