SBJ/Dec. 9-15, 2013/Colleges

Want a new gift suite choice? Take a seat

This may be the one time college football players will be happy to take a seat.

This year, alongside the high-end electronics, jewelry and mountain bikes in the gift suites that have become a staple at college football postseason festivities, there will be a home-theater recliner that users can plug their electronics into, as well.

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SportsBusiness Journal’s eighth annual analysis of the gift packages provided to bowl game participants by the committees that host the games reveals that half of those organizations will stage a gift suite or shopping spree in the coming weeks. Gift suites are set up as private events prior to the game in which game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit.

The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools can, and usually do, buy additional packages that they can distribute to participants beyond that 125 limit. In addition, participants can receive awards worth up to $400 from the school and up to $400 from the conference for postseason play, covering both conference title games and any bowl game.

Making its gift suite debut this year will be Southern Motion’s Viva, a powered home theater recliner that has two USB ports that can charge mobile devices. The Pontotoc, Miss.-based furniture manufacturer also
Southern Motion’s McLaren (top) and Viva chairs will debut in gift suites this year.
will offer the larger McLaren, which does not plug in but features a steel base and a reinforced frame capable of accommodating even the largest offensive lineman.

The chairs will be an option in each of the postseason gift suites operated over the next few weeks by Carrollton, Texas-based Performance Award Center. Jon Cooperstein, who leads PAC’s sports marketing division, is projecting that players and coaches will order a total of about 800 chairs.

Southern Motion’s entrance into the bowl space is new territory for the company, although its products have been available for the past few years to some of PAC’s corporate rewards program clients. Cooperstein contacted Southern Motion’s executives this spring with what seemed like a natural opportunity to test a new demographic.

Unlike most of the other companies that offer items to bowl participants, Southern Motion does almost no advertising. It doesn’t have a consumer-focused website, either.

Nevada student athletes peruse choices at the New Mexico Bowl gift suite last year.
Photo by: NEW MEXICO BOWL / ALBUQUERQUE BOWL
“We do view this alliance as an avenue to do additional business through alternative channels of distribution,” said Beth Loden, Southern Motion’s strategic accounts director. “We are interested in exploring this opportunity as it does not conflict with our normal business model, which is through traditional retail stores.”

Using the suites as a test market for big-ticket items is not new: Oakley and Sony in the past have stocked gift suites with new or not-yet-released items, meaning players and coaches get something their friends and family don’t have and can’t yet buy at a store.

The recliners, along with the Sony PlayStation 4 systems being given out by the Military Bowl, could cost more than the NCAA limit of $550 if bought at a retail store, but bowl committees and gift brokers can negotiate a lower rate on products because they are buying in bulk. Cooperstein said the NCAA oversees what the committees actually pay for the items.

Looking ahead, new bowl games scheduled to begin next year in Miami; the Bahamas; Boca Raton, Fla.; and Montgomery, Ala., would bring the total number of bowls to 39, meaning at least 1,000 additional bowl game participants and, of course, VIPs ordering swag. That timing works out for tenured vendors such as Oakley, which are constantly working to keep their offerings fresh. Oakley products will be in seven gift packages this winter, its lowest total in several years.

“We are at the end phase of the product assortment we offer the bowl games, with a new assortment of products being released in spring 2014,” said Oakley’s Mike Sterner. “So next year, you’ll see a lot more games with Oakley accessories.”

Including gift packages for players, cheerleaders, staff and VIPs, Fossil products will be handed out by 15 bowl committees this year. Sony, Trek and Ogio have the potential of being the top giveaways, as their products are available in nearly every gift suite.

Representatives of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl would not disclose the contents of their gift packages, but New Era officials said bowl participants will receive a selection of the company’s products.

Representatives of the AT&T Cotton Bowl also would not disclose the contents of their gift packages, but a source at a school that played in last year’s Cotton Bowl said the participants received a Fossil watch, Beats by Dre headphones and an iPad Mini.

2013 Bowl Gifts to Participants

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Sat., Dec. 21, 2 p.m. (ESPN); Albuquerque, N.M.
Gift suite, portable mobile device charger, 8 GB USB; Oakley Breadbox sunglasses; cap, Oakley Fine Knit beanie; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack; Gildan stadium blanket

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Sat., Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. (ABC); Las Vegas
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3; beanie, cap; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack; football, Zappos gift card

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Sat., Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN); Boise, Idaho
Gift suite; Port Authority winter coat, Tiger Woods Nike Golf beanie, Scott winter ski gloves; iPack backpack; Big Game football

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Sat., Dec. 21, 9 p.m. (ESPN); New Orleans
Gift suite; Fossil watch

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl
Mon., Dec. 23, 2 p.m. (ESPN); St. Petersburg, Fla.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3;  Oakley Breadbox sunglasses; Oakley Status backpack (at right); Schutt mini helmet

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Tues., Dec. 24, 8 p.m. (ESPN); Honolulu
Gift suite; Oakley sunglasses; Tori Richard aloha shirt, Pro Athletics shorts and performance T-shirt; Ogio backpack; beach towel

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Thurs., Dec. 26, 6 p.m. (ESPN); Detroit
Timely Watch Co. watch; leather luggage set; football

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Thurs., Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN); San Diego
$205 Best Buy gift card; Reactor Heavy Water watch; Maui Jim sunglasses; cap        

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
Fri., Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN); Annapolis, Md.
Sony PlayStation 4; winter hat; Ogio backpack    

Texas Bowl
Fri., Dec. 27, 6 p.m. (ESPN); Houston
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3; Fossil watch; belt buckle, T-shirt; Ogio backpack; lapel pin

Fight Hunger Bowl
Fri., Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN); San Francisco
Soundmatters wireless portable speaker system; Fossil watch; Maxx HD Wayfarer sunglasses; messenger bag; Macy’s gift card

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Sat., Dec. 28, 12 p.m. (ESPN); New York City
Variety of New Era products

Belk Bowl
Sat., Dec. 28, 3:20 p.m. (ESPN); Charlotte
Shopping trip to Belk department store; Fossil watch (at right)

Russell Athletic Bowl
Sat., Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN); Orlando
$450 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip^; Timely Watch Co. watch; Russell Athletic workout shirt        

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Sat., Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN); Tempe, Ariz.
Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio Cube backpack    

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Mon., Dec. 30, 11:45 a.m. (ESPN); Fort Worth, Texas
Gift suite, RadioShack gift card; ESPN cap; Ogio overnighter bag; Big Game football

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Mon., Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN); Nashville
Gift suite; Fossil watch (at right)

Valero Alamo Bowl
Mon., Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN); San Antonio
iPad Mini with retina display, Apple gift card; Fossil watch; panoramic photo, Schutt mini helmet

National University Holiday Bowl
Mon., Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN); San Diego
$305 Best Buy gift card; Reactor Meltdown watch; Maui Jim sunglasses; cap        

AdvoCare V100 Bowl
Tues., Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN); Shreveport, La.
Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. watch; New Era skull cap; football

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Tues., Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CBS); El Paso, Texas
Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. watch; Top of the World cap, Majestic fleece pullover; Ogio backpack; coin, Helen of Troy hair dryer

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Tues., Dec. 31, 4 p.m. (ESPN); Memphis
Sol Republic Tracks HD headphones; Bulova watch; Nike sunglasses; Nike athletic shoes and sport sandals; Nike Kevin Durant backpack; football

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Tues., Dec. 31, 8 p.m. (ESPN); Atlanta
Fossil watch; Russell Athletic cap; Russell Athletic bag; football, $300 Visa gift card, Chick-fil-A gift card

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Wed., Jan. 1, 12 p.m. (ESPN2); Jacksonville
Fossil watch; Dome hat; Mercury Luggage Seward Trunk luggage set; football, Jostens ring

Heart of Dallas Bowl
Wed., Jan. 1, 12 p.m. (ESPNU); Dallas
Gift suite; Fitbit Flex watch; ESPN cap; football

Capital One Bowl
Wed., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ABC); Orlando
$450 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip^; Timely Watch Co. watch; Russell Athletic workout shirt

Outback Bowl
Wed., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ESPN); Tampa
$150 Best Buy gift card; Fossil watch; cap; Jostens ring, Outback Steakhouse gift card

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
Wed., Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN); Pasadena, Calif.
Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 59Fifty cap; Ogio backpack    

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Wed., Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); Glendale, Ariz.
Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio Cube backpack    

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Thurs., Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); New Orleans
Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 39Thirty cap; Ogio backpack    

AT&T Cotton Bowl
Fri., Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. (Fox); Arlington, Texas
Information not available; bowl committee would not disclose

Discover Orange Bowl
Fri., Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); Miami Gardens, Fla.
Gift suite; Tourneau watch

BBVA Compass Bowl
Sat., Jan. 4, 1 p.m. (ESPN); Birmingham, Ala.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (at right); Fossil watch; Oakley sunglasses; ESPN cap; Big Game football

GoDaddy.com Bowl
Sun., Jan. 5, 9 p.m. (ESPN); Mobile, Ala.
Sol Republic deck; Timely Watch Co. watch; Mercury Luggage Seward Trunk luggage bag; Wilson football

Vizio BCS National Championship Game
Mon., Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); Pasadena, Calif.
Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 59Fifty Hat; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack (at right)   

^ To be spent during the team’s official store visit. Balance not used that day will be forfeited.
Notes: All times listed are ET. Product details are provided as they were available. Most watches, rings, clothing, luggage and footballs are custom-made with the bowl logo. Gift suites are set up as private events in which game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each specific bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit of $550 per person.

Compiled by David Broughton and Brandon McClung

Sources: Bowl committees and vendors

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