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Volume 21 No. 2


Don Muret
The Cincinnati Bengals are rewarding club seat holders who renew their deals by giving them gift cards loaded with concessions credits.

The NFL lockout made for a difficult offseason for all NFL fans, and the Bengals thought it would be a nice gesture on the team’s part to help pay for the cost of food and drink in the clubs for their season-ticket holders sitting in the most expensive seats at Paul Brown Stadium, said Jeff Berding, the team’s director of sales and public affairs.

International Micro Systems is producing the gift cards for the Bengals.
As a result, the team developed a series of Loyalty Club cards for their two preseason games and eight regular-season games in Cincinnati. Those cards, branded with the Bengals’ tiger design and the helmet logo of each opponent, contain stored value. Fans renewing their club seats from midfield to the 20-yard-lines receive gift cards with $30 value per seat for each game. Those renewing club seats near the goal lines and in the end zones get gift cards with $15 in value per seat each game. Club seats cost $135 to $200 a game, depending on location.

Season-ticket holders that owned four midfield club seats and renewed them for the 2011 season receive a total of $120 in credit per game for food and drink.

“The whole point is to provide a meaningful reward for loyalty,” Berding said.

Last week, as club seat renewals continued less than a month before the start of the regular season, Bengals officials could not say how much the Loyalty Club campaign has driven fans’ decisions to extend their deals.

They do believe the gift card offer has helped with renewals after the Bengals suffered through a poor season in 2010, one year after sweeping their division foes and making the AFC playoffs, Berding said.

The Bengals’ gift card offer ends after Aug. 25, the date of their first home preseason game. The offer is not good for new club seat buyers, Berding said.

For International Micro Systems, the Pennsylvania firm producing the gift cards, the Bengals are the third NFL team to activate its stored-value technology. The Houston Texans tested it last year by distributing bar-coded coupons for fans to buy discounted concessions at Reliant Stadium. For this season, the Texans are providing vouchers with food credits in $10 increments tied to club seat renewals and referrals. As of last week, 550 club seats had been extended as a result of the program, said John Schriever, the team’s vice president of ticketing and event management.

In Houston, the technology has helped with quicker customer service at concession stands and with a small uptick in per caps, Schriever said. Aramark is the food provider for both the Bengals and Texans.

HOME COOKING: Andy Frain Services, a crowd management firm, recently signed deals with the Liberty Bowl and AutoZone Park in Memphis, the city’s football stadium and minor league baseball facility.

No surprise. Steve Zito, president of Andy Frain’s sports and entertainment division, managed FedEx Forum in Memphis for 5 1/2 years, at a time when the NBA arena became a client. Zito joined Andy Frain in June 2010 and still lives in the area.

Earlier this year, Andy Frain bought Ready Track, an incident management system used by MLB and NFL facilities. All told, the company has seen growth of $3.4 million in new business in the year since Zito came on board.

INFIELD HIT: Santa Anita Park has signed a deal with Crowd Seats, a half-off sports ticket site, to help fill up the infield for the horse track’s fall season, Sept. 30 through Nov. 6.

Twenty dollars will buy two tickets for a five-hour tailgate experience in a reserved space in the middle of the track equipped with tables, chairs, umbrellas and grills. Spectators can bring their own food to cook and drinks, excluding alcohol. The price is normally $20 a person.

Santa Anita used Groupon as a daily deals partner in January and February. The promotion kicked off around Christmas and accounted for 1,840 clubhouse ticket packages sold, said Chris Quinn, the track’s director of sales.

That deal brought many people to Santa Anita who had never been to the facility, at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California, Quinn said. Sixty-seven percent of Groupon buyers were women.

The WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and Major League Soccer’s Chivas USA also have deals with Crowd Seats.

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

The Florida Marlins have selected Daktronics to produce the Internet protocol television network at their new ballpark.

It is a big victory for Daktronics, the South Dakota company best known for supplying scoreboards for arenas and stadiums. The Marlins’ deal is the firm’s first IPTV installation at a major league facility and second overall in a sports venue.

Claude Delorme, the Marlins’ executive vice president of ballpark development, refused to disclose the value of Daktronics’ IPTV system. Elsewhere, those programs can run well into seven figures, and went as high as $15 million for Cisco’s installation at Yankee Stadium.

The Marlins also considered Cisco and Harris Corp., the tech firm that supplied the IPTV system at Amway Center and is a founding partner for the Magic at its new arena in Orlando.

Recent IPTV installations

New Marlins Ballpark Daktronics 700 TBA
Livestrong Sporting Park Cisco Stadium Vision 300 Panasonic
Amway Center HarrisCorp. 1,100 Samsung
Consol Energy Center Cisco Center Vision 800 LG
KFC Yum! Center Daktronics 414 Sony
New Meadowlands Stadium Cisco Stadium Vision 2,200 Sony
Target Field Cisco Stadium Vision 650 Insignia

Source: SBJ research

Daktronics’ first IPTV project was for the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, where it came in with a low bid of $1.1 million. The 22,000-seat college basketball arena opened in October.

Daktronics produced the arena’s center-hung scoreboard and LED ribbon boards, and all signage in the seating bowl is connected to the building’s 400-plus televisions.

IPTV technology enables teams to send dozens of messages on video screens throughout a facility and customize the information depending on who’s sitting in those seats. For advertising purposes, an automaker, for example, can run a commercial for a luxury car in the suites, and at the same time, show an ad for an SUV to a family sitting in the upper deck.

Cisco’s StadiumVision product, or CenterVision, as it’s branded at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, allows suite holders to order food and drink in the suites through touch-screen technology. The flexibility of those digital display systems extends to menu boards at concession stands that can change prices and images during a game at the push of a computer key.

In south Florida, the Marlins decided Daktronics provided the best value for their $515 million ballpark, Delorme said.

Similar to Louisville, Daktronics is supplying the high-definition video board for the Marlins’ park, measuring 102 feet wide and 51 feet tall, and its ribbon boards, out-of-town scoreboard and other digital displays.

“What we really liked was the synergy of the system, with all the scoreboard information linking seamlessly with the televisions,” Delorme said. “We have one supplier with a strong presence, which also helps with maintenance issues.”

Officials with Daktronics, a publicly-traded company, could not comment last week because the deal had not been signed.

In Miami, the Marlins’ new park opens April 1 with the first of two exhibition games against the Yankees.