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Volume 20 No. 42


The Memphis Grizzlies have signed a deal with Spotlight Ticket Management as the franchise looks to offer its premium seating buyers more control and data from the use of their tickets.

“You can track who is using the suite, how much a company is entertaining in a suite, and, ideally, how much value you are getting in a suite,” said Dennis O’Connor, vice president of ticket sales and service for the Grizzlies. “We want to provide our suite holders an automated way to manage their tickets.”

The Grizzlies are the 12th NBA franchise to sign a deal with the Calabasas, Calif.-based company. Spotlight said it has 37 professional sports teams as clients.

Specific financial terms of the Grizzlies’ one-year deal with the company were not disclosed. The Grizzlies will make the ticket tracking system available to all suite holders, who will access the software from a Spotlight website portal and pay an unspecified fee to the ticketing company.

There are 59 suites at the FedEx Forum. The team may expand the software to other premium seating products, such as club and courtside seating.

Spotlight rolled out the software in the NBA during the 2009-10 season. “The No. 1 driver of our business is the tickets sitting in drawers,” said Spotlight CEO Tony Knopp.

The percentage of suite holders using the technology varies by team, but officials at the Spurs, one of the first teams to use the software, said 38 percent of their premium ticket buyers use the product.

Todd Taylor began his job as senior vice president and chief sales and marketing officer for the Indiana Pacers last June, joining the franchise from the Texas Rangers just before the NBA lockout.

The job marks a return to the NBA for the industry veteran, who worked for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2004 to 2006. Taylor also has worked for the Milwaukee Brewers and the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

Taylor spoke to staff writer John Lombardo about his sales approach for the franchise, which last season ranked last in the league in average attendance.

Todd Taylor learned from baseball’s longer schedule.
Talk about timing: You came to the Pacers from the Rangers just before the lockout. How did the work stoppage affect your transition in the job and your sales strategy?

TAYLOR: [The lockout] did give us a chance to reflect more on what we wanted to do, but the challenge was that we had to create multiple strategies because we didn’t know the timing [of when the season would begin]. … Each one had a lot to do with the communications with our customers and prospective clients.

Outline the team’s marketing strategy now that the season is under way. What are the big changes in store this season?

TAYLOR: We are focusing heavily on smaller ticket packages. … Our overall campaign is, “Indiana’s Game, Indiana’s Team,” which wraps in the history and tradition of basketball in Indiana while allowing us to talk about our current players.

What lessons are you applying in your job with the Pacers from your time spent in baseball?

TAYLOR: In baseball, with the 81-game home schedule, you really learn how to break down a schedule and segment who you want to go after. …There was something nice about having a 10-game homestand in baseball that you can market around, but you don’t really have that in basketball. My philosophy is to have people buy a small ticket package and have them work their way up and stay with us longer.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge since taking the job?

TAYLOR: People got out of the habit of buying. … That’s why for the first time we are offering a five-game ticket package with the Miami Heat game free, and an 11-game package where fans can pick their own games. Typically, when the schedule comes out, we’d have a few weeks to set up our strategy, but this year all that happened over just a few days. There have been a lot of moving parts.

What are the biggest business changes you have seen since coming back to NBA?

TAYLOR: The league’s team marketing and business operations division has really evolved since I last worked in the NBA in 2006.