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Volume 21 No. 2


Don Muret

A 90-year-old Chicago brand with historical ties to Wrigley Field has taken over crowd management at another high-profile sports venue: AT&T Stadium.

The Dallas Cowboys signed Andy Frain Services to a five-year deal covering both game-day and 24-hour security in Arlington. The agreement took effect July 1 and extends to the Cowboys’ headquarters at Valley Ranch, said Steve Zito, the firm’s president.

Andy Frain is poised to work its first Cowboys game Saturday against the Ravens. Its first stadium event was a Jay Z and Beyoncé concert on July 22.

Andy Frain won the Cowboys’ business after co-owner Dane Vontobel first discussed a potential relationship with the NFL club a few years ago. The firm was certified in 2006 under the federal Safety Act, awarded by the Department of Homeland Security, and the federal government’s seal of approval drove the Cowboys’ decision to change vendors, team spokesman Brett Daniels said. 

In 2009, the NFL itself was certified under the Safety Act, protecting the league from being sued as a result of a terrorist attack at any one of its 31 facilities. Since that time, MetLife Stadium (where the New York Giants and Jets moved in 2010) has also been certified, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

The Cowboys are taking the same steps for certification as a team. “We feel like it’s the right thing to do,” Daniels said. 

Andy Frain Services replaces Platinum Event Services, the Cowboys’ security firm since AT&T Stadium opened in 2009.

The Cowboys are Andy Frain’s second NFL account after the Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams. Last week, the company started screening fans entering Busch Stadium in tandem with the MLB Cardinals’ security force.

Over the past few years, Andy Frain has picked up multiple accounts in MLB, college football, NASCAR and the PGA. Founded in 1924 in Chicago, it’s best known for the old blue blazers and Navy-style officers hats worn by ushers for 50 years at Wrigley Field and other Chicago sports venues.

The Cubs took crowd management in-house several years ago, but the Andy Frain brand lives on in sports without the formal uniforms. The Aurora, Ill.-based company has about 50 accounts, making it the sports industry’s second-largest security firm behind CSC, said Andy Frain co-owner Dave Clayton.

As for returning to Wrigley, one of its original accounts, Andy Frain and Cubs officials have discussed that possibility as part of the team’s $375 million ballpark renovation. But to this point, Clayton said those talks have not advanced beyond casual conversations.

> PANTHER VISION: Bank of America Stadium’s new and larger video boards will serve as a social media showcase for fans wishing to display their photographs in-stadium through Twitter.

The Panthers and sponsor AT&T will showcase fans’ photos on new, larger video boards.

The Carolina Panthers signed a deal with The Famous Group to use its Vixi technology to display photos sent from fans’ mobile devices to the team through the hashtag #panthervision. A team employee monitoring those images sends them to the two boards in a promotion sponsored by AT&T.

“We’ve got these big, beautiful new boards and what we’ve heard most from our fans over the years is they want more content and less sponsorship,” said Scott Paul, the Panthers’ director of stadium operations.“But we’ve got to have a good mix. We saw [the technology] at league meetings and thought it was a good opportunity to use the new boards.”

Elsewhere, the Rams use The Famous Group’s system in St. Louis, and it also was part of social media displays for the Super Bowl in February at MetLife Stadium.

In Charlotte, the Panthers plan to use their new upper-level ribbon board in the corners of the 400 level to display team-approved Twitter messages without photographs. The team is handling that piece of technology on its own, Paul said.

In other Panthers news, the team has signed Papa John’s and Salsarita’s as new food sponsors. Their pizza and nachos will be served by Delaware North Sportservice, the stadium’s concessionaire.

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

A Wisconsin sports marketer has brought a new kind of premium NFL hospitality to the Green Bay Packers’ neighborhood.

Good Karma Brands, which owns ESPN Radio affiliates in Madison, Milwaukee and Cleveland, had been looking for a way to expand its business beyond radio, CEO Craig Karmazin said. It decided to create a high-end experience tied to Lambeau Field, a stadium that’s a fixture on any fan’s bucket list. It’s also the only NFL stadium still standing in a residential neighborhood.

The backyards of houses on Stadium Drive look out over Lambeau Field. See slideshow below for more images from the Tundra Trio.

“The concept in this day and age with development around a sports facility, to imagine you could actually walk from a luxury house to an NFL game without having to cross a street or even a sidewalk, just blew us away,” Karmazin said.

In September 2011, Good Karma bought a house on Stadium Drive, in the shadow of Lambeau. It then bought two more. All have backyards that look out on the stadium.

Good Karma invested more

than $1.4 million to buy the homes and renovate them with an elegant yet casual touch. Together, they are branded as the Tundra Trio, a take-off on Lambeau’s Frozen Tundra theme.

Rental rates start at $10,000, and the cost goes up as amenities are added, such as game tickets, airfare and private chefs, as well as golf

Inside, Good Karma has created a high-end atmosphere. Clients have included the Washington Redskins.

at Whistling Straits, site of the 2015 PGA Championship, and lodging at the five-star American Club resort, both about an hour south of Green Bay.

The rate also varies depending on the Packers’ opponent and the size of the group. Last year, the first season for the Tundra Trio, the Washington Redskins brought 200 of their top season-ticket holders to a game, using two of the houses that are side by side for hospitality. The Cleveland Browns, by comparison, rented one home for an intimate gathering of 15 people to entertain sponsors such as FirstEnergy Corp., the utility that holds naming rights to their stadium.

“It worked out beautifully,” said Brent Stehlik, the Browns’ executive vice president and chief revenue officer. “Outdoors, they had a fire going and a full buffet. The game started at 4 p.m., and we had five hours to party. It’s perfect for a corporate outing due to the location.”

As of last week, Good Karma had booked 14 events at the Tundra Trio for the 2014 season, including preseason games. It has sold all inventory for the Jets and Bears regular-season games at Lambeau. Availability remained for the Packers’ six other regular-season games.

One event is a non-game-day function connected to a State Farm promotion for a fan who won a Tundra Trio tailgate with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, star of the insurer’s quirky television commercials.

“If our only goal was to sell out the homes, we could have them all rented the day after the NFL schedule comes out,” Karmazin said. “But the homes are also a tool for us to build our relationships, both within pro sports and in the corporate marketing community.”

Good Karma paid an average price of $312,000 for the three houses, which were initially assessed at $110,000 to $130,000. One home apart from the Tundra Trio was listed at $350,000 and had gone unsold for 16 months. But after Good Karma bought its first house for $314,000, eight of the 11 houses on the block were sold over the next six months, Karmazin said. (The Packers bought four of those houses and had them relocated to provide more space for television network trucks).

One of the unique aspects of the houses is a garage converted into a wine bar.
Good Karma’s internal director of real estate teamed with a local architect and builder to create some unique aspects, such as a garage converted into a wine bar. There is no heavy Packers theming, though. You won’t find foam cheeseheads and Brett Favre shrines inside. The intent was to redesign spaces in neutral colors to the point that opposing team executives visiting the houses would feel just as comfortable hanging out there as the biggest Packers fans, Karmazin said.

“High end was the vision,” he said. “There are a lot of party houses in Green Bay, a lot of green-and-gold urinals and cool Vince Lombardi Trophy showcase rooms. What we wanted is to have something completely different.”