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Volume 21 No. 2
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Comcast-Spectacor names Lencheski to lead global growth for Front Row Marketing

Veteran sports marketer Chris Lencheski has been named president of Front Row Marketing Services, the Comcast-Spectacor venue marketing, premium ticket sales and analytics company.

Lencheski’s 20-plus years in the business include experience in sales, event management, media and motorsports. Most recently, he ran the agency Phoenicia Sport and Entertainment, and before that he was owner of the Central Hockey League’s Quad City Mallards hockey team, as well as founder and CEO of the sports marketing firm Ski & Co.

“We’ve got a nice business with a great infrastructure,” said Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko. “Chris is a rainmaker who can help lead us to the next level with great contacts on the client side, and experience outside of North America. If you look at our history, we grow much more than we acquire, and we see Chris as someone who will continue that growth.”

Lencheski fills the slot left open by Dick Sherwood, who founded Front Row in 1998 and sold it to Comcast-Spectacor in 2001. Sherwood retired in July 2010.

Front Row sells naming rights, advertising/sponsorships, concession product rights, premium seating and hospitality elements. Other than selling for venues tied to Comcast-Spectacor properties, about 30 percent of Front Row’s approximately $38 million in annual revenue is from outside clients. Its current niche is in secondary markets and the college space.

Front Row claims to have more seats under its aegis than AEG, but for it to challenge AEG, it will need to land major market deals and expand its overseas capabilities.

However, since Comcast-Spectacor parent Comcast now owns NBC, and with it the rights to the next four Olympics, the opportunity for global expansion is apparent. Global Spectrum, Comcast-Spectacor’s facility management firm, manages the Singapore Sports Hub complex and Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, while it looks for other opportunities in the United Arab Emirates. Elsewhere, Global Spectrum Europe, a partnership with England-based NEC Group, signed a deal in March to manage a new arena under development in France.

“When you look at the connections this company has around the world, that’s really what got me excited — whether it is building management, TV programming, cable TV or Internet. There’s so many possibilities and not many companies have this kind of firepower,” Lencheski said.

Staff writer Don Muret contributed to this report.

Luukko identified Front Row’s analytics business as an area ripe for growth, along with the collegiate market. Front Row sells for the Colonial Athletic Association, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Saint Cloud State and Drexel.