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Volume 20 No. 46
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‘Underserved audience’ for fantasy getting its own convention

Terry Lefton
Tapping into the sought-after demographics of the estimated 35 million or so who are playing fantasy sports is the launch of a convention targeted to the space. The Fantasy Football Fest will be held Aug. 18-19 at the Atlantic City (N.J.) Convention Center and put on by Reed Exhibitions’ Comic Con division, a New York-based group dedicated to comics and video games.

The initial attempt at Comic Con for fantasy will include ESPN fantasy expert Matthew Berry, who will deliver a keynote and also run several panels at the event. Fantasy players are being encouraged to hold drafts on site, which will also include player appearances and panel discussions from the likes of Phil Simms, Michael Vick, Lawrence Taylor and Tony Dorsett, along with memorabilia and video game tournaments.

Greg Topalian, Reed Exhibitions senior vice president, is hoping for 20,000 to 25,000 attendees with pricing at $40 for one day and $55 for two. Sponsors include Steiner Sports, Fathead, SiriusXM Radio and a smattering of endemic sites, like Marketing support will include ads on sports radio and an outdoor campaign.

Big Lead Sports founder Chris Russo recalled a Las Vegas “Super Draft” a few years back but added, “This is still an underserved audience, so the opportunity to program for them comprehensively and possibly do some media extensions out of that is very intriguing.” Big Lead, the former Fantasy Sports Ventures, was sold to Gannett/USA Today this year.

Premier Partnerships will study naming-rights possibilities for the Alamodome.
DEEP IN THE HEART OF NAMING RIGHTS: Could the 19-year-old Alamodome in San Antonio get a corporate moniker? That possibility now exists, as San Antonio’s city fathers recently gave Premier Partnerships a green light for a study to assess valuations for sponsorship sales of both the city-owned Alamodome and the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Sports in the dome include the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the Valero Alamo Bowl, the AFL San Antonio Talons and University of Texas-San Antonio football. However, the facility still hosts 150 events a year, so optimistic estimates of what the Alamodome could fetch for naming rights per year went as high as $2 million a year among other naming-rights sales executives.

San Antonio officials point out that the Alamodome is one of the few domed facilities without a naming-rights deal. Premier Managing Director Jeff Marks noted that the company’s relationship with the city of San Antonio began when Premier secured Petco as a naming-rights partner for a city animal shelter.

SIGN LANGUAGE: LED stanchion signage in NBA arenas will be a reality next season, according to Chris Granger, executive vice president of team marketing and business operations (SportsBusiness Journal, May 14-20 issue). “It is a go,” Granger said, adding that teams will do their own valuations of their stanchion signage. However, the addition of LED signage from Van Wagner Sports does not necessarily mean the elimination of its predecessor: the static signage from ANC Sports that has been used in NBA arenas since 2007 and was in 21 NBA arenas during the 2011-12 regular season, all carrying State Farm marks. Some of those team deals are long-term enough that both forms of signage will occupy baskets in some arenas.

FINDING COMFORT: Brown-Forman’s Southern Comfort 100 spirits brand is in for a year as the first presenting sponsor of the World Series of Poker’s secondary Circuit Tour, which WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart referred to as “our Nationwide Series.” The 100-proof version of Brown-Forman’s 138-year-old liquor will activate against a “Raise The Stakes” tag line and gets branding in and around the set. The tour culminates in New Orleans, where Southern Comfort was born.

Activation also includes on-premise events and an “instant poker night” retail bundle that will package poker chips and playing cards with the liquor bottle. “We like their activation and the brand fit is dead on,” Stewart said.

COMINGS & GOINGS: Rodnell Workman departs Madison Square Garden for the CMO post at the New York Racing Association. He had been with MSG since 2009. … Donna Goldsmith, former WWE COO and NBA licensing vice president, has left her post as general manager of operations at the 2014 NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee after nine months.

Terry Lefton can be reached at