Yesterday, THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY talked with Jerry
Cifarelli, senior VP at Dorna USA. Dorna specializes in
sponsorship promoter services and is best known for AdTime, the
revolving courtside signage system seen in the NBA, MLB and the
AVP. Just this week, Dorna announced the sale of their signage
system to three universities: DePaul, Wake Forest and the
University of Hawaii.
DAILY: Is your move into college venues a part of a bigger
move for Dorna to tap into the college market?
CIFARELLI: At this point, we have our signage system in 15
NBA arenas and next year, the expectation -- assuming baseball
resumes as normal -- is to be involved with 15-20 baseball teams.
We feel, from a signage position, we have a dominant position in
the professional sports scene. Logically, the next step for us
is to really pursue the college marketplace. We've had an
involvement with UCLA and USC for the past couple of seasons on
both a signage and a marketing relationship and we are now, this
year, really pursuing more opportunities in college.
THE DAILY: What do college sports offer to sponsors that
pro sports do not?
CIFARELLI: I don't know if college sports necessarily
offers something different than pro sports. If you're going to
compare NBA vs. college basketball, the NBA is obviously
substantial in the television signage end of the business and in
most cases college basketball does not offer the extensive
television exposure that the NBA might. However, a lot of these
schools, regionally and locally have tremendous appeal. In many
of these towns and cities, there are no allegiances to pro clubs.
So, the signage gives these sponsors and advertisers another
opportunity to be involved.
THE DAILY: Is there any fear of a backlash of over-
commercializing college sports?
CIFARELLI: We're relying on the universities and the
schools to make those decisions. We're really offering our
signage technology to these colleges and it's up to them to
decide how many advertisers they want to display on these units.
On our system, you can display up to 40 advertising messages and
certain colleges are saying, 'I'm going to limit it at 10, or
limit it at 6.' I think each school will determine what's in
their best interests. It's not a Dorna decision.
THE DAILY: How many college arenas do you think you will be
involved with in the next couple of years?
CIFARELLI: We hope to announce an agreement with a college
representative. We want to work with somebody as a partner to
assist us in really developing the college marketplace, from both
a marketing and a signage standpoint. We hope at some point that
we have a relationship with 75 universities, so that we can then
offer to national advertisers an opportunity to be involved with
75 schools by dealing with Dorna and another company.
THE DAILY: What is the potential of the college market?
CIFARELLI: Revenue-wise, I'm not sure if it will ever be
bigger than the professional teams. But there are opportunities
and we're just looking to maximize them by trying to offer a
professional-look for these colleges. The key for us is to try
to get involved with a large number of universities. At the
college level, we would probably need 30 or 40 clubs to have a
substantial enough package for a national sponsor.
THE DAILY: What technology is Dorna developing to tap into
other sports, like hockey?
CIFARELLI: We already have technology for hockey. We hope
to [tap into the NHL market], and we currently have a system that
we tested last year at the NHL All-Star game at Madison Square
Garden, and it works very well. At some point in time we see
ourselves on the field for every sport, or on the court, or on
the ice. Whether it is football or hockey or baseball or
basketball, we'd like to think that any sport that's played,
they're going to rely on the signage system that we own.
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(BOSTON GLOBE, 11/9).