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Volume 21 No. 39
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Dyer to lead new Elevate college unit

Elevate On Campus will compete against Aspire, IMG Learfield to assist schools with ticket sales and marketing
Elevate’s first client is the University of Kentucky, where it will work to sell tickets in the Wildcats’ newly renovated football stadium.
Photo: Getty Images

Elevate Sports Ventures has brought on executive Mark Dyer to head up a college-focused vertical called Elevate On Campus.

The new college unit will work with schools on ticket sales and marketing, putting Elevate head to head against the two industry leaders, The Aspire Group and IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions. Dyer originally launched IMG College’s ticket business in 2011, two years after Bernie Mullin’s Aspire Group entered the college space. Since then, they primarily have been the only two players.

Elevate On Campus, which will be based in Charlotte, is introducing a new financial model by charging a flat fee, whereas others in the space traditionally charge a commission based on new ticket sales.

The new agency landed its first big piece of business, the University of Kentucky, through a competitive bid process, beating out Aspire. The Wildcats, who weren’t previously working with a ticketing firm, are seeking sales and marketing expertise to move tickets in their newly renovated football stadium, soon-to-be renovated basketball arena and new baseball stadium, as well as other ticketed venues.

“There’s plenty of business to go around,” said Dyer, who pointed out that there are 1.5 million unsold college football tickets each weekend.

“That stat really gets your attention,” he said. “The fact is that the majority of top 30 and top 50 Division I football and basketball programs are working on their own. They don’t have the resources to really maximize the investment they are making. They aren’t producing ticket sales.”

Elevate On Campus was formed as a joint venture between Elevate Sports Ventures and Dyer’s own ticketing consultancy, Taymar Ventures. Dyer was introduced to Elevate CEO Al Guido, who also is the San Francisco 49ers president, earlier this year and the two began talking about how they could unite Dyer’s extensive college contacts with Elevate’s expertise in ticket sales, marketing and analytics.

Elevate was formed earlier this year as a union of the 49ers, Oak View Group, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and Ticketmaster/Live Nation.

“We are committed to bringing our innovative, analytical and strategic approach to the college ecosystem,” Guido said, adding that the jump into the college space was a natural next step for the first-year firm that’s already working with Seattle’s NHL bid.

“These partners have the technology, analytics and information that works,” Dyer said.

Elevate On Campus already has hired Joe Rickert from the Atlanta Hawks to be the UK property’s general manager. Rickert, who was manager of the Hawks’ ticket sales, graduated from Kentucky. He’ll hire four sales representatives to start.

There’s also the potential for Elevate On Campus to work with Oak View Group’s new college business spearheaded by Tim Leiweke and Dan Shell. OVG works with schools to operate and monetize their facilities, which Shell said will be complementary to the ticket business. Dyer and Shell worked together for several years at IMG College.