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Volume 22 No. 14
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Veritix-AXS merger means new opportunities for AEG buildings

Don Muret
The merger of ticketing companies Veritix and AXS brings new marketing resources to AEG Facilities, a leading operator of arenas and stadiums worldwide.

About four years ago, AEG corporate formed AXS to compete against Ticketmaster. Since then, AEG has converted the 100-plus venues with which it has relationships to the AXS system.

Now, the alliance between AXS and Veritix, announced June 11, creates a much stronger platform for both ticketing vendors and provides AEG-run venues with additional technology such as Flash Seats, Veritix’s digital ticketing system.

For example, Staples Center, AEG’s flagship arena in its hometown in Los Angeles, can build out its system by adding Flash Seats, an open ticketing platform in which fans can buy, sell and transfer their tickets without restrictions.

The same is true for AEG-run concert venues such as the O2 in London and Red Rocks Amphitheatre in suburban Denver, two of the company’s busiest venues for live shows, Veritix CEO Sam Gerace said.

Room to grow in the NFL: Veritix has only one NFL account, the Detroit Lions, and AXS has no such deals.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The AXS platform contained some of those features, but joining forces with Veritix takes AEG Facilities to the next step, providing more options for patrons to freely move tickets and to collect valuable customer data to customize the fan experience, said Bryan Perez, AXS’s president and CEO.

Conversations will start soon internally on integrating those additional ticketing features at AEG-run buildings, Perez said.

“We think [Flash Seats] gives us a competitive advantage and once you have the ability to have complete transparency into who’s using your tickets, a lot of great things come from that,” he said. “Staples is constantly driven toward differentiating the event experience. You can’t do that unless you know who’s attending your event. If you’ve only got a handful of people who can really take advantage of the experience, it doesn’t work. That’s why Veritix and Flash Seats is such an important piece of the puzzle.”

The merger extends AEG’s reach into college ticketing for the first time through Veritix’s agreements with the NCAA championships and Boise State, Texas A&M and Utah, among other schools.

The NFL provides additional opportunities for AXS, which on its own had no NFL deals. Veritix has one NFL account after signing the Detroit Lions in 2013, breaking the stranglehold Ticketmaster had in pro football over the past decade.

Both ticketing CEOs are having conversations with teams across most sports. In the NFL, Gerace said those talks could extend to opportunities for teams to book concerts at their facilities through AEG Live, North America’s second-biggest concert promoter.

To this point, though, they’re both staying clear of MLB, mostly because the league itself is in the ticketing business. MLB Advanced Media, its technology group, owns Tickets.com, a company with 19 MLB teams as clients. Ticketmaster has deals with the league’s 11 remaining teams.

“It’s not something we’re focused on right now, largely because I don’t like the notion of having to ask my competitor for permission to compete,” Perez said. “We think this [merger] isn’t going to be as much about us selling as it is us reacting to inquiries. There’s always a subset of teams that want to be innovators … and we think we provide an alternative in the marketplace, and we think it will be well-received.”

> BETTING MAN: Sacramento Kings President Chris Granger raised a few eyebrows during his recent presentation on Golden 1 Center, the team’s new arena, which will open in fall 2016.

“Arenas eventually are going to move in that direction [gambling], and we want to be ready for it.”
Chris Granger
President, Sacramento Kings

Photo by: RICH SCHMITT
Discussing the future arena’s technology at the recent SportsBusiness Journal/Daily facilities conference in Santa Clara, Calif., Granger said the Kings must have the infrastructure in place to accommodate the potential for “in-arena gambling from your seat.”

In the NBA, where gambling on games is illegal outside of Las Vegas, it was interesting to hear Granger talk about the possibility of placing wagers from your seat. After his presentation, Granger was asked how the system might work at his facility.

“Right now, you can envision a time where you’re sitting at your seat and transacting points … which can be turned into something else,” he said. “The time will come where it’s not just points and you can gamble with real currency.”

Granger said, “You go to any Premier League venue, go to the window and bet during the game. But that’s not going to happen [in the NBA]. What’s going to happen in real life is, ‘Will DeMarcus Cousins make this free throw? Yes or no?’ Click [on your mobile device]. It’s going to be more of the prop betting that you see in Las Vegas. Arenas eventually are going to move in that direction, and we want to be ready for it.”

Most important, has Granger discussed the opportunity for in-arena gambling with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver?

“Perhaps,” he said with a smile.

> GANG GREEN: MetLife Stadium’s effort to go green extends beyond theming for New York Jets games. In November, the joint venture running the building for the Jets and Giants bought a giant composter to develop mulch to be used for the stadium’s landscaping operation.

All food waste, cardboard and disposable utensils are thrown in the composter to produce mulch. A composter operating at full capacity all year long could produce 70 to 75 tons.

By composting in-house, the venue reduces its hauling costs and the need to purchase mulch while reducing its carbon footprint by using fewer large trucks to haul trash from the stadium.

“We control the process from start to finish,” said Nicole Fountain, a stadium spokeswoman.

The machine costs in the low six figures, and officials expect it will pay for itself in less than five years. The cost savings is expected to run about $25,000 annually, Fountain said.

For more stories on the greening of sports facilities, read the In-Depth section on sustainability in this issue.

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