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Volume 24 No. 117


Levy Restaurants has rebranded its sports retail group as Rank + Rally and has signed the Nets and Golden Knights as its two newest clients. The company, formerly Levy Retail, now has 12 accounts at major league arenas, stadiums and Arlington Park horse track in suburban Chicago. All merchandise deals are at venues where Levy Restaurants operates food service. Erin Jones, hired in July as a Senior VP with about a dozen years of experience in retail apparel, will lead Rank + Rally out of Levy’s home office in Chicago. Online, Rank + Ralley runs e-commerce sites for the Warriors and Blues and is expanding that piece of the operation to include the Nets and Golden Knights, Jones said.  For the Nets, Rank + Rally replaces Adidas, which ran the team store at Barclays Center since it opened in the fall of '12. The new vendor's three-year deal also covers Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, run by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which manages the Nets’ arena, plus seasonal pop-up stores at Coney Island and other sites in the borough. In addition to Nets games, Rank + Rally will sell merch for college basketball and boxing events at Barclays Center. The Nets will continue running merchandise for in-house concerts, said BS&E CEO Brett Yormark.

MONEY IN THE BANK: To drive more business and events to Brooklyn, Yormark said the agreement extends to suite hospitality at other arenas across the country where Levy Restaurants runs the food. The Nets’ comfort level and continuity with Levy already serving as their food provider and the retail group’s plan to work with Brooklyn designers to develop custom apparel sold exclusively at the Swag Shop, Barclays Center’s rebranded team store, was another factor in the decision, he said. In Las Vegas, Rank + Rally will expand and rebrand the Black Clover Shop, T-Mobile Arena’s team store named for the golf lifestyle brand and an arena founding partner. The new name will be tied to the Golden Knights, the NHL expansion team that begins play this fall at the facility, Jones said.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway “appears poised to ax more seats that were largely empty” at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kobalt 400 last week, according to Ron Kantowski of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Fans who sought to renew seats in the "lower grandstands fronting the Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Terraces" were told they "could not purchase them” for ‘18. LVMS President Chris Powell said, “We are not prepared to sell tickets in those areas. ... A final decision hasn’t been made.” Kantowski notes a seating chart for '18 on the speedway’s website “shows the lower grandstands in front of the terraces grayed out.” With NASCAR attendance and TV ratings “in freefall, no fewer than 11 tracks have reduced seating capacity” since ‘07 -- some by as much as 40%. Seats at LVMS were “widened on the front straightaway before the sweeping grandstand between Turns 3 and 4 was shoveled under” in ‘15, reducing capacity to around 108,000. Attendance for last Sunday’s race was “estimated at 70,000.” Before attendance and TV ratings “began to decline, the Cup Series attracted crowds of 140,000 or more” to the LVMS and races “sold out by Christmas.” Powell said that a lot of money was "spent promoting this year’s race.” But there still were “significant pockets of empty seats in the sprawling grandstands” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/20).

SMI-owned Phoenix Raceway and NASCAR have had "preliminary discussions" about "moving the track’s spring weekend to April" from the mid-March date it has had since '15, according to Michael Knight of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. While "nothing is likely to happen for next year," there is little doubt the track "would eventually love to reclaim the mid-April Saturday evening date it enjoyed" from '05-10. Yesterday's grandstand crowd for the Monster Energy Cup Series Camping World 500 was estimated to be 45,000, "about the same as last season." Phoenix Raceway "competes in March with the Cactus League and numerous other sports and entertainment events." It also is the "end of the winter tourism season, which typically is accompanied by peak rates for resorts and hotels in the Phoenix area" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/20).