Posts Tagged ‘sports venues’

More from your venue

October 26, 2015

It sounds like the old Larry Bird-Magic Johnson McDonald’s commercial..off the backstop, through the dugout, off the steps..but at Petco Park, it’ll be the way you play miniature golf—and it’s a unique sponsorship activation at the same time.

Over the first weekend in November, the San Diego Padres and Callaway Golf will create a nine-hole layout around the downtown ball park. The Links at Petco Park, to be held November 5-8, will begin on a putting green in the home dugout. Golfers will move to the ballpark’s upper deck for Nos. 2-5, where they will hit shots onto the field from various locations. The sixth will tee off on the field near the Western Metal Supply Co. building in the left field corner before golfers move to the batter’s eye in center field for No. 7. The eighth hole will be a putting green in the bullpen. The final hole will be on the roof of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building.

Prices are $100 for twosomes and $200 for foursomes. Callaway will provide clubs and balls. Upgraded packages include specially branded Callaway clubs and tickets to a future Padres game. No surprise, tee times are all gone, but you can still sign up for a wait list.

“We’re always trying to provide authentic golf experiences with our products that are unique and engaging, and that’s exactly what this partnership with the Padres is about,” Callaway senior vice president of marketing Harry Arnett told the Padres’ website. “Playing a nine-hole course at a venue like Petco Park with Callaway golf clubs and balls will be a once-in-a-lifetime round, and we are excited to be a part of it.”

Each hole along the course will feature a unique theme and an opportunity to win prizes like a new Callaway Great Big Bertha Driver, with various holes offering corresponding snacks and beverages.

We’ve talked about using existing venues for new events. The Petco Park activation, the Fenway Park snow jumping event this winter, even stadium concerts, all offer new revenue streams for venues at a time when their stadium wouldn’t be used. And, it gives fans a unique look at a facility they thought they were familiar with. More and more facilities are taking a new look at how to bring in fans, and money, during what would otherwise be the off-season.

Petco Park links course

illustration is courtesy San Diego Padres

Getting the most of the venues you have

September 29, 2015

Fenway Park in Boston has been the home for football, for concerts, for hockey, and now, this winter, it will be the home for big-air snowboarding. “Big Air at Fenway” will bring in top winter extreme athletes to compete on a 140-foot snow ramp inside the park. With the winter Boston had last season, having enough snow or cold shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, organizers say they’ll just truck in enough snow for the athletes.

“I think it’s more that we see Fenway as a community gathering place, and doing high-profile, blue-chip events outside of baseball season a couple times a year is an appealing thing for the community,” according to Red Sox and Fenway Sports Management President Sam Kennedy. “A lot of them are a return to a past. Soccer had happened way back in the early part of the century, and the Patriots even played at Fenway and Boston College played at Fenway way back, so I think we’ve been inspired by Fenway’s history and actually bringing these events back in terms of a return to the past.”

More and more venues are getting more and more use out of their facilities by opening them up to new ideas and new sports. Yes, sometimes it’s a pure gimmick, as with the U.S. Synchronized Swim Team performing routines in what was called the largest swim tank in Times Square history last week, but it’s another way to expose what may be a niche sport to more people. You can bet Fenway will be sold out for the Big Air event.

(Boston, MA, 09/22/15) Fenway Sports Management (FSM) and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) during a press conference announce a big air ski and snowboard competition that will take place at Fenway Park in February.  A drawing of the massive snow ramp within the park on Tuesday,  September  22, 2015.  Staff photo by Matt Stone

Drawing courtesy of Fenway Sports Management

Investing in Sports

June 11, 2015

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is making a big play to use a $55 million upgrade of its sports venues to attract more events and in turn, bring in millions of new dollars in visitor spending.

According to the Rockford Register Star, a new $24 million sports complex under construction in the downtown area landed its first big ‘get’ last month with the AAU 6th Grade Girls Basketball Tournament in 2018. That will bring an estimated 3,500 people to Rockford, projected to spend $750,000 while they visit.

That sports complex already is paying dividends, months before it is slated to open, as it’s already spurred nearly $120 million worth of development planned for the area, including two hotels.

Rock River Cup Lacrosse RockfordAccording to the paper, the tourism bureau there spends half a million dollars a year on marketing to bring sports tournaments to the region. John Groh, the bureau’s president/CEO, is quoted as saying his agency will need more personnel to capitalize on the downtown venue and a $31 million expansion on tap at Sportscore Two in Loves Park.

The Rockford region plays host to 250 sports tournaments a year, and the bureau’s goal is to attract 60 more a year by 2018. But it’s a competitive market. The 600-acre National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota offers a soccer stadium, more than 50 soccer fields and an eight-rink ice facility. The $33 million Louisville Slugger complex in Peoria has 10 synthetic turf youth softball and baseball diamonds, plus a dome for indoor events. And Westfield, Indiana, already has plans to expand its still-new 400 acre Grand Park youth sports complex with two indoor venues.

Amateur sports tournaments produced nearly $9 billion in visitor spending in the U.S. last year, with 42 percent of those events played in the Midwest, according to the National Association of Sports Commissions. And Groh is quoted as saying the sports tournament business has become increasingly competitive.

“Cities everywhere are building more athletics venues and facilities, but there’s a finite number of tournaments to go around,” he said. “So you have relatively the same number of buyers and more sellers. The buyers are in a relative position of power and can extract more from tournament hosts, so that means we have to be really smart about how we put deals together and market what we have to offer.”

Right now visitor spending tied to sports tournaments brings in roughly $16 million a year to the Rockford region. That figure is expected to double within three years with the indoor athletic complex in downtown Rockford and expansion of Sportscore Two.

For Rockford, the investment in sports is paying off for now, and in the future.

A New Look at Old Venues

December 30, 2014

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is crammed with all kinds of sporting events, not the least of which is the New Year’s traditional 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, featuring hockey (Chicago and Washington) playing outdoors, this time at the Washington Nationals stadium.

The outdoor series started as a made-for-TV New Year’s tradition in 2008, and since then has become one of the most popular and most-watched NHL games of the season. It’s spurred a similar Canadian series, the NHL Heritage Classic, and has NHL teams asking to either host, or take part in the series. 2015-WinterClassic-Rink-Build

These so-called “gimmick games” aren’t anything new, but they do emphasize the point that sometimes a change of venue can give new life, and bring new fans, to any sport. Basketball has been played on aircraft carriers and on the stage at Radio City Music Hall, even outside in the desert in the dead of winter. Collegiate hockey (as well as the NHL) has been played at the “Big House” of Michigan Stadium.

Golf balls have been hit off decks and docks and tennis has been played on the top of skyscrapers (as promotional stunts); Wrigley Field and Fenway Park have been the hosts for college football games in recent years and Yankee Stadium holds the annual Pinstripe Bowl.

Don’t have a beach to host the pro volleyball tour? No problem. For the AVP stop in Cincinnati two years ago, sand was trucked into the middle of the street and bleachers were set up on the sidewalks and voila, sand volleyball!

All this is to say, don’t hesitate to look at your facilities in different ways for different uses. Several years ago when the organizers of the Las Vegas Bowl weren’t able to use the stadium’s suites for hospitality, they took the end-zone space, put up a tent, brought in lounge chairs and big-screen televisions and created their own field-level exclusive hospitality area which became even more popular than the traditional suite box.

By looking at venues with a new, creative eye, sometimes you can make an event an even more exciting experience and bring in new fans at the same time. Make 2015 the year of maximizing your venues for the best experience possible.

The Importance of Locally Created Events

May 13, 2011

I have had many opportunities to study home-grown soccer tournaments. Each was developed originally by a small group of individuals or a local club. Because they were created locally they use existing sites. Very recently I have learned a good deal about the events in one city. In fairness I am not going to reveal the name except to say it is in the Midwest.

Prior to this year, four annual tournaments took place. These included several age groups and spanned just about all levels of skill. The smallest event has been drawing 350 teams and the largest 525! This year, two new fall events will join the calendar and both are targeted at about 350 teams. The credible estimates I have seen put the number of visiting teams at fifty percent or more. This means more than 1000 visiting teams a year. If you assume 30-40 people per team, the numbers get interesting.

Please remember these are locally created. No bids, no guarantees, but lots of room nights!

It became clear to me a number of years ago that local events are much more adept at using multiple sites. The organizers know the local area and are willing to spread competition over a 20 or more mile radius. Event owners looking for host communities are less able to adjust to these conditions.

The fields themselves are usually large expanses of turf with moveable goals. These permit sizing the fields to suit varying age groups. Most fields are not lighted, and few have scoring systems, team bench areas or permanent seating. The city in question has complexes that can hold from 35 to fewer than 10 fields. Some are public facilities, and all of these are under the care of a park and recreation department. A surprising number, however, are private including the 35 field complex. These are owned by the clubs themselves.

One such complex opens this spring. It has fifteen new fields…no lights, no scoring, but plenty of parking and the ability to size the fields to suit each week’s schedule.
Many of you have heard me speak about the value of youth soccer. Most players demonstrate uncertain skills, and most will give up the game before they reach 14. One of the most attractive things about youth soccer is the simple fact that most players are of average ability. There are lots more average players than elites.The events they enter are designed to provide competition experiences outside the norm in their home communities.

What’s my point? We may be spending too much time worrying about how many full size (70 by 110 yards or larger) fields we have and not enough time thinking about how many youth teams need or can play on fields that size. I believe that if you think about it you will conclude that large expanses of good turf will serve best in your quest for visitors and their spending.

Many of you are fortunate to have multiple field complexes with lighted fields and electronic scoring. These, of course, are the kinds of complexes everyone would like to have. I have been able to visit scores of such places, and they are sights (sites?) to see!

I cannot help but think, however, that the cost of developing and maintaining complexes like these may be out of the reach of many communities…and success can be achieved by using something more like a polo field!

What do you think?

Kind Regards

Don

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