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Volume 21 No. 1
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Comcast-Spectacor: Revenue up 40 percent at Front Row since arrival of Lencheski

With NHL games canceled through mid-December, NHL revenue is absent at Philadelphia Flyers parent company Comcast-Spectacor. However, a year after installing new leadership at its Front Row Marketing sales, analytics and corporate consulting unit, things are going swimmingly.

Revenue is up 40 percent since industry veteran Chris Lencheski was installed as Front Row’s president by Comcast-Spectator President and COO Peter Luukko last October. Front Row is doing business in new areas like motorsports, where it is now the sales agency for Pocono Raceway, and in European soccer, where it recently signed EPL club Norwich City for sales and consulting, and the French Super Cup match between Ligue 1 champion Montpellier and French Cup winner Lyon at Red Bull Stadium in July. For that match, Comcast and Front Row did the TV deal, handled TV production, and sold tickets and sponsorships. The event was shown on NBC Sports Group regional sports networks.

The success of the Xfinity Live! restaurant/sports bar complex next to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia led to a broader sales relationship with developer The Cordish Cos. Front Row also signed to consult on naming rights for a venue that will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

“The vision here was to expand into new areas, and a year later, I can say we can and we are into areas like soccer, motorsports and growing our international business,” said Luukko, who first knew Lencheski as a Flyers season-ticket holder. “We’re a company that has promoted from within, just as we have generally built our businesses, rather than acquired them. But Chris has that sense of urgency that comes from running your own business, where if you aren’t selling, you aren’t eating.”

Other wins over the past year include representation for what is now the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Front Row is a finalist in one of the most closely watched agency shootouts of the year — the bid for West Virginia’s media and marketing rights. An agreement to sell naming rights at Miami of Ohio is intriguing, too, since the school is otherwise represented by IMG.

“We’ve raised our profile,” Lencheski said, “but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Helping with that work will be two well-connected sales executives brought in recently — Sergio del Prado, who is now a regional vice president based in Los Angeles, and Lee Stacey, the unit’s new senior vice president of national sales.

While Front Row has some synergies with its closest corporate cousins, like venue management firm Global Spectrum, the ultimate potential is synergy across more distant NBC Universal properties, like selling for Universal theme parks or creating golf tournaments in which Golf Channel held a principal role.