Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Creative Promotion Surrounding Bryce Harper

As Bryce Harper’s hype machine continues to spit out numbers we haven’t seen since, well, Stephen Strasburg, Harper continues to be the most talked about Class A prospect I have ever seen.  However, Bryce Harper's immense media attention allows teams at the minor league level to get creative with their promotions.

Take this for example.   Bryce Harper’s Hagerstown Suns (Class A Washington Nationals) were in Lakewood, New Jersey for a series against the Lakewood Blueclaws (Class A Philadelphia Phillies).  So what was the promotion for the game?  If a Lakewood pitcher stuck out Harper, then every fan in attendance (8,217 came out for this Class A game) would get a 20% off voucher for the local IHOP restaurant.  Of course the promotion was not what drew the crowd in, but personally I think it is a very creative way to incorporate the opponent’s star player into a marketing plan.

I always wonder why MLB teams with falling attendance do not take more after the marketing genius of minor league baseball.  Promotions in the minors create a family experience that is unmatched in many sports at almost all levels.  I understand the whole pride element in the MLB; teams don’t want to feel reduced to a minor league level.  Creating a more family friendly environment could allow a team to leave ticket prices where they are.  There is always a fine line between lowering ticket prices and adding more promotional value.  I think when desperate times call for desperate measures; more promotional value and even a minor shift in demographic (more towards families) could never hurt.

Bryce Harper handled the promotion with grace when he joked with reporters after the game, “I hope I get a voucher”.

-Article based on ESPN.com writer Jerry Crasnick’s “Bryce Harper’s Journey in its early stage”.

-Written by Kevin Rossi

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New York One Step closer to MMA

The New York state Senate passed legislation to sanction mixed martial arts events throughout the state.  The legislation now faces its biggest test in the state Assembly.  New York is one of only a handful of states that do not sanction mixed martial arts.  New York is the biggest state, economy-wise, to not sanction MMA.

The debate in New York on whether to legalize MMA or not has been heated to say the least.  Some New York politicians have called MMA “the Four Loko of sports” (gothamist.com).  Some have also considered MMA the sport of barbarians.  The sport of barbarians?  Let’s break MMA down.  Mixed means multiple components together as one.  Martial arts is anything from boxing to wrestling, karate to judo, muay thai to jiu-jitsu.  Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure some of the martial arts are in the Olympics, and the Olympics are not barbaric.  Now when you put the components of MMA together you get Mixed Martial Arts, literally meaning multiple “fighting arts” put together as one.  If you look at it in the right light, it could be viewed as a sort of super Olympic event.  The sport of barbarians?  MMA has been consistently proven to be safer than boxing.  MMA’s lighter gloves mean less weight hitting a fighter in the head.  MMA event’s less rounds mean less time spent getting hit in the head.   MMA’s quicker knockouts mean less time a fighter spends getting hit in the head.

It is about time the lawmakers of New York State are beginning to realize how ridiculous they have been.  Finally somebody opened their eyes and saw the great economic impact MMA events could bring to the state.  It is estimated that an Ultimate Fighting Championship (biggest MMA production company) could bring New York as much as $1.4 million in an event held at the historic Madison Square Garden.  How many times were those New York politicians going to watch New Jersey steal all of their events and revenue? 

Tune into UFC 130 Rampage vs. Hamill this Saturday May 28th at 9pm on PPV.

For more on the growth of MMA and the UFC, check out this recent SBJ article http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2011/05/23/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/UFC-main.aspx

-Written by Kevin Rossi

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

FIFA Bribery Saga Continues

Just one week before FIFA's Presidential Elections, the world's governing body of soccer has announced it will be launching a probe on bribery allegations against the President of CONCACAF (the Central and North American Federation) Jack Warner and FIFA Presidential Candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam. FIFA is no stranger to claims of corruption, as President Sepp Blatter can surely testify, and it should come as no surprise that the claims against his challenger are occurring so close to the election. 

Very recently, FIFA has also announced that it will allow a 'whistleblower' to present evidence of bribes regarding the 2022 World Cup Vote. Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, which is coincidentally Asian Federation President Mohamed Bin Hammam's native country. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said that should the allegations prove true, FIFA will hold a revote. The United States was one of the other countries bidding for the right to host.

It's difficult to tell what to make of all this news, but it's surely important as the outcome of the two probes will have a great impact on the future of soccer. Many people are calling for Jack Warner's job, as he's been at the center of multiple corruption claims before. I would have told you I was rooting for Bin Hammam to unseat Sepp Blatter before this scandal, and now I'm not sure what I'd like to see happen. A complete overhaul would be nice, I suppose.

If you're interested in learning more about FIFA's historical corruption, check out soccer reporter Andrew Jennings' "FOUL!". The book details FIFA's beginnings, Adidas' involvement, and Sepp's rise to power. Also, visit Change FIFA, an organization devoted to bringing honesty and transparency to the governing body of the world's favorite sport.

-Written by Dan Mullin

Monday, May 23, 2011

HIO: It's the Big 5

The idea of the "Big 4" in professional sports is one talked about frequently. The NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL are the most lucrative leagues in the United States, and possibly the world. However, slowly the "Big 4" is transforming into the "Big 5" with the emergence of a newer professional sports league: Major League Soccer (MLS).

Having held its inaugural season in 1996, it is league that has grown exponentially in an age where professional leagues have faltered and failed to live up to expectations. Perhaps due to its young age, it is also one of the most progressive leagues in the country, always looking to adopt innovative techniques in attempt to further reach its consumer base. 
Recently the MLS became the first professional league to launch its own ticket sales education institute, the MLS National Sales Center, located in Minnesota. Specifically, its goal is to properly train prospective ticket sales representatives over the course of a 45 day hands-on curriculum.
MLS franchises are also using innovative sales and marketing strategies to cater to all types of fans. The Columbus Crew recently announced plans to hold the inaugural Pride Cup presented by Innovative Financial on July 23. It is billed as "a one-day GLBT and allied soccer tournament."

Those are just two quick examples of the progressive approach the MLS has taken to increase dollar amounts, widen its consumer base, and ultimately make the Big 4 a thing of the past. The MLS deserves to be in the conversation of top sports leagues in the country. Expect its growth pattern to continue as the league will expand to 19 teams during the 2012 season, with the addition of Montreal.

The American professional sporting landscape is changing. Take note. It's the Big 5.

In addition to serving as President of the Sport Management Student Union (SMTSU), Kevin Giordano is a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel University with industry experience working in men's and women's professional soccer and collegiate athletics. To contact or connect with Kevin, you can follow him on Twitter (@KevinGiordano) or connect with him here on LinkedIn.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drexel Athletics Outsources Sports Marketing Rights


Drexel University Athletics has decided to partner up with Front Row Marketing Services to bolster their corporate sponsorship revenue.  The move was made to enhance the Drexel Athletics brand, increase revenue, and expand partnerships.  Front Row Marketing Services will help Drexel generate profit on their increasing success in all sports.

Front Row is a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor.  Their collegiate clients include Temple University and the Colonial Athletic Association, among others.  The company has over 45 different clients in a variety of sports marketing areas.  In professional sports, Front Row works with the Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Soul, and Philadelphia Union.  Marketing expert Richard Sherwood formed the company in 1998.

Drexel University is hosting some major sporting events in the future.  In 2011, Drexel will be hosting the U.S. Open Squash Championships in the DAC.  Further into the future, Drexel will be hosting the 2012 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Quarterfinals at PPL Park and even further into the future they will be hosting the 2013 NCAA Lacrosse Championships at Lincoln Financial Field.  The major events paired with an athletics program that is building momentum every season, Front Row Marketing Services should have solid ground to start building a successful partnership.
-Written by Kevin Rossi

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Houston Astros Sold


For the first time in a while, baseball in Houston, Texas created some national buzz.  On Monday, a group led by Jim Crane bought the Houston Astros from Drayton McClane.  Jim Crane’s persistence finally paid off with the Houston Astros after his recent failed attempts to buy the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs.  Major League Baseball still has to approve the deal.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the deal giving Jim Crane the Houston Astros is the price tag.  Crane will reportedly be coughing up $680 million for the team.  The deal is not only surprising because Astros have been struggling on the field since the mid 2000’s but also because the $680 million price tag will be good for the second highest dollar amount paid for a Major League Baseball team.  The current highest price tag belongs to the Chicago Cubs at $845 million.  Jim Cranes offer on the Astros will surpass the $660 million it took to buy the Boston Red Sox back in 2002.

There is no doubting Crane’s persistence to own a Major League Baseball team.  When Drayton McClane first put the Houston Astros up for sale back in 2008, Jim Crane unsuccessfully tried to buy the team.  His most recent MLB ventures include being involved in the bidding war for the Chicago Cubs two years ago and most recently teaming up with Mark Cuban in trying to buy the Texas Rangers.  Even after multiple failed attempts, Crane stayed with it and was successful in his last go-around.

If approved by Major League Baseball, Jim Crane will be inheriting a messy situation in Houston.  The team has struggled as of the past few seasons, consistently battling the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates for last place in the National League Central.  No word yet if he will continue exclusively attracting former Phillies players.

-Written by Kevin Rossi

Monday, May 16, 2011

HIO: Props to Rick Welts

Props to Rick Welts. The man of praise is the President and CEO of the NBA's Phoenix Suns. Instrumental in the creation of the NBA's All-Star Weekend and annual dunk contest, Welts also served instrumental in the launching of the WNBA in 1997. In 1998, he was named "Marketer of the Year" by Brandweek Magazine after the WNBA's first season. As one of the league's most accomplished and influential senior front office executives, Rick Welts made this news this weekend for another, more personal reason.

Just the day prior to Kobe Bryant's anti-gay, on-camera slur, Welts met with NBA commissioner David Stern. In that meeting, Welts told Stern he was gay. Just this Sunday, Welts came public with his sexuality via Dan Barry's piece in The New York Times.

As one that personally hits home for me, Welts is an accomplished pioneer in professional basketball and is now poised to become a role model for members of the LGBT community, particularly the youth afraid of pursuing a career in sports. While other aspects of society may be slowly adopting a more accepting atmosphere, the competitive nature of sports makes it one of the most homophobic areas of American culture. Just ask Kobe.

Props to Rick Welts for his courage. Times are changing. Now, we just need a gay individual who is able to be open about it from the get go, to go on and have the professional success Welts has had. It will happen, I can personally asure you that fact.

In addition to serving as President of the Sport Management Student Union (SMTSU), Kevin Giordano is a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel University with industry experience working in men's and women's professional soccer and collegiate athletics. To contact or connect with Kevin, you can follow him on Twitter (@KevinGiordano) or connect with him here on LinkedIn.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The End of the Renaissance?

Now that both the Lakers (YEAH GOODBYE!) and the Celtics (Boooooooo) have been eliminated from the NBA Playoffs, a new champion will be crowned. In the past three years the old rivals made up 83.3% of the NBA Final’s appearances (2 head to head matchups, the Celtics taking it in 07-08, and the Lakers winning last season, their second in a row).

Is this the end of their resurgences? All signs point to a likely blow-up of one or both of these rosters. The Kobe Bryant-led Lakers lose long-time guru/coach Phil Jackson to retirement. They have a lot of money tied up for the foreseeable future, with key pieces like Kobe and Pau Gasol up there in age. They’re slow and unathletic: the Dallas Mavericks embarrassed them in a (beautiful) sweep. With a new coach, this needs to change, and fast.

On the other side, Boston’s Big Three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett are also up there in age. Allen and Garnett likely only have another year or so of elite play left in the tank, if that. Add in uncertainty about Doc Rivers’ future (will he take time off to watch his son play for that nauseating team in Durham?) and it’s not a rosy picture. Injuries have plagued them the past three years (Garnett in 09, Perkins last year, and Rondo this year).

There is good news for both teams: the Lakers are a prime place for players to WANT to play. Gasol is still talented, as is Lamar Odom. Andrew Bynum, if he can stay healthy, is coming into his own. Could a package of Bynum and Gasol get them superstar Dwight Howard? Time will tell.  The team needs to get more athletic, without a doubt. Young teams like Oklahoma City, Memphis, Portland, ad nauseum, will be able to give them fits if they don’t change soon. Kobe can only do so much.

The Celtics have their Big Four intact for another year most likely. The supporting cast are all free agents. This team, while having the spotlight on the superstars, could have a lot of new pieces come next season. The revolving door of centers will continue, as I can’t see Shaq coming back. He’s done. They will have to find weapons to spell their aging stars. My opinion is that they need to build around Rondo: he might not be able to drive the opposition into the ground with his scoring, but he makes everyone else better on the court. The transition needs to start now. Danny Ainge has worked magic before, is there any more in the tank?

At this point, I think both teams are flawed enough that they aren’t threats for the NBA Finals next season. That being said, there will be many a change coming, not disregarding the looming NBA lockout and new CBA.

-By Ryan Pratt

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Social Media and Sports

Social Media is a marketing and promotional platform that has been severely under-utilized by North American sports.  According to Sports Business Journal, 7 of the top 10 teams in ‘followers’ (Facebook likes + Twitter followers) are overseas soccer teams.  The only North American sport teams to crack the top 10 were the Los Angeles Lakers (3rd), the Boston Celtics (9th), and the New York Yankees (10th).  The first major thought that pops into my head when I look at the top ten is that NBA is on to something.  The second major thought that pops into my head when l look at the top ten; where is everyone else in North America at? 

The NBA has been trying to expand its brand for a while now.  Their major growth, at least from what I can remember, started with Yao Ming in 2002.  The NBA brought Yao Ming to the United States and Yao Ming brought the NBA to China.  I believe that the NBA is the closest league to expand overseas, prime example being their global social media ‘following’.  The NBA has more social media followers than the NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS combined.  The league is reaching a wider audience showing their clear potential to expand overseas sometime in the not too distant future. 

Now to my second, where is the rest of North America at in the top 10?  The New York Yankees are a brand that is recognizable across the world.  Almost anywhere you go, you will see a New York Yankees hat.  So why does such a global brand not translate to an even bigger following?  Major League Baseball and the teams do not utilize social media to its fullest potential. 

News and information spread like wildfire in this age of social media.  The MLS trails even the PGA Tour in social media following!  I love the PGA Tour as much as the next golfer but the Tour is one of the worst marketing properties in the world of sports and is geared toward an older audience, but the Tour still leads the MLS.  For a league trying to gain a larger piece of the sports media revenue pie and expand their brand, social media is the most inexpensive and forgiving promotional tool.

Social media presents largely uncharted waters for sports properties and the rest of the business/marketing world however the possibilities are endless.  Social media is free and can be used for countless different business ideas.  Activation is a big one that comes to mind.  Free ways to activate sponsorship is money in the bank.  Leagues and teams have a greater opportunity than ever to connect to fans through social media and they need to take advantage of it. 
-Written by Kevin Rossi

Monday, May 9, 2011

HIO: A Sports Industry Puzzler

The sports industry is all around us and we often do not realize how much we touch and depend on it. For instance, what does attending a high school lacrosse game, buying a pair of Puma running shoes, and working out at the gym all have in common? You got it, they are all associated with the sports industry.

We all know sports, namely at the professional level, are big business. League revenue-sharing, player salaries, and media rights deals are quickly shifting from being lucrative to outlandish. Just look at the PAC-12's recent 12-year, $3 billion tv deal between with ESPN and and FOX, as an example. This is only the most recent deal, BCS and NCAA March Madness television deals have blown this deal out of the water in recent years.

While we often associate professional sports as main contributors to the lucrative size of the sports industry, it is actually dwarfed by sporting goods manufacturers. According to Plunkett Research done on the industry, "Big 4" professional sports leagues only account for about $21 billion of the $414 total size of the sports industry in the U.S. alone. Sporting goods and equipment accounts for about $39 billion of revenue per year.

This leads to the ultimate question, why do sporting goods manufacturers bring in more revenue than the top professional sports leagues? The answer lies in fundamental marketing principles.

It comes down to product consumption and perception. More individuals touch sporting goods clothing, than professional sports. Look in your closet and your drawers, those disheveled gym shorts and old sneakers are all considered sporting goods. Now, lets take a step back for a moment and take into account others besides ourselves. There is naturally a large group of people in this country who just do not have an interest in professional sports and do not "touch" the product. However, lets make the assumption that they do have at least a pair of gym shorts and sneakers.

Another possible reason could lie in the influence of media on self-image. Today, the media portrays the ideal male and female body type. That message has been engrained into our minds from a very early age. To make ourselves that ideal, many of us have decided to begin a workout plan and engage in increased physical recreation and activity - one of the most overlooked areas of the sports industry. Due to this desire to workout, companies like Nike and Adidas salivate as their sales increase. More people are purchasing workout clothes and equipment. More people are touching the products offered by sporting goods manufacturers.

While there may be other reasons the top professional sports leagues are less lucrative than sporting goods, the long and short of it is that more people weigh their own self-image and exercise over watching professional sports.

Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section below. I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
In addition to serving as President of the Sport Management Student Union (SMTSU), Kevin Giordano is a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel University with industry experience working in men's and women's professional soccer and collegiate athletics. To contact or connect with Kevin, you can follow him on Twitter (@KevinGiordano) or connect with him here on LinkedIn.

Friday, May 6, 2011

SIAP Hosts Overbrook High School

On Tuesday, May 3, the Sport Management Student Union (SMTSU) at Drexel University hosted Overbrook High School as the first school to participate in the organization's Sports Industry Ambassadors Program (SIAP).

Approximately sixty 11th and 12th graders from the nearby high school came to Drexel to learn about sport management. Once they arrived, students were led on a campus tour by SMTSU Director of Marketing, Hayley Zedeck.

After the tour, students were brought back to the Goodwin College of Technology and Professional Studies for a presentation, given by SMTSU President Kevin Giordano. Among topics discussed were a general overview of the sports industry, the advantages of working in sports, and an overview of sport management. The day concluded with the presentation of a case study on sports marketing. Students were then tasked with creating their own sports franchise and developing a basic marketing plan.
Following the experience, Deanna Richmond, Physical Education teacher at Overbrook High School, complimented the SIAP by noting, "GREAT JOB!! Our students were glad they participated." For pictures, visit our Facebook page by clicking here.

SIAP intends to expand the program by engaging other Philadelphia area schools in the near future. The goal of the program is to introduce the sport management industry to inner-city students while encouraging students to graduate high school and continue their studies in order to achieve their professional goals. For inquires about the Sports Industry Ambassadors Program, please email the Sport Management Student Union at drexelSMTSU@gmail.com.

Job Opportunity Within Drexel Athletics

This coming fall Drexel Athletics is seeking students to join the event management staff for fall sports. This is a great opportunity for any sport management students who are looking to gain experience in the field. The student would not have a set position, but would be rotated though a variety of tasks including:
  • Scoreboard/ Game clock operator
  • Usher
  • Merchandise
  • Set up and Break down of events
Students who are looking for valuable experience as well as build a network of contacts within Drexel Athletics are highly encouraged to apply. Student schedules need to be flexible; the events will mostly take place on nights and weekends. We are willing to offer scholarship money to all of the student hired.

Any students interested, please email your resume to Chris Linnehan at cl499@drexel.edu.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Historic Night for UFC

Saturday, April 30th marked a historic night for the Ultimate Fighting Championship at UFC 129 in Toronto.  The fight card for the night featured great fights and big storylines.  Randy Couture in the final fight of his legendary career getting knocked out in the blink of an eye by Lyoto Machida.  Jose Aldo making his UFC debut against Canadian Mark Hominick in a fight that went on to earn fight of the night honors.  The headliner for the night belonged to Canadian superstar Georges St. Pierre retaining his welterweight belt by beating his “toughest opponent yet” in Jake Shields. 

In addition to the headlines, UFC 129 produced some record numbers.  The 55,724 people in attendance UFC 129 more than doubled the previous attendance record of about 23,000 at UFC 124.  UFC 129 also shattered the previous ticket revenue number of $5.4 million when they brought in about $12.1 million on Saturday night. 
The Ultimate Fighting Championship isn’t the only one benefitting from the record event.  UFC President Dana White predicted an economic impact of $40 million for the city of Toronto.  With the pre-fight media events, pre-fight parties, weigh-in event, and post-fight celebrations to supplement the big fight night, a $40 million figure is definitely realistic.  Helping out in reaching that number is the fact that the Ontario Athletic Commission (OAC) receives 5% of the ticket sales.  UFC 129 sold $12.1 million in gate revenue and the OAC receives 5%, so that would mean right there that the Toronto, Ontario area makes $600,000. 

Seeing these historic figures makes you wonder why the state of New York still doesn’t sanction mixed martial art events.  The economic impact is unquestionable.  New York is the biggest U.S. market not to sanction MMA and would instantly become one of the biggest markets to sanction MMA if/when they do.  It makes no sense for New York to continue denying the impact of holding a major UFC event.  In the meantime, cities like Toronto will continue to benefit greatly off of the ever increasing revenue of the UFC.

-Written by Kevin Rossi

Monday, May 2, 2011

HIO: My Penn Relays Experience

The largest track and field meet in the United States, the Penn Relays were much more of a spectacle and intense well-oiled machine than I had imagined.

In my current position as a Marketing Assistant with Nelligan Sports Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, I assist two others in selling and fulfilling sponsorship agreements with businesses for both Penn Athletics and the Penn Relays. When I began in January, most of my responsibilities revolved around prospecting new business for the Relays. Up until then, I also attended weekly planning meetins about the event. From the meetings, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect during the event. However, I ended up being very wrong.

With over 115,000 people who attend the Penn Relays over the course of the three-day meet, the crowds were immense. In addition, there were 498 events over the three days. At any given moment, a race was occuring on the track, pole vaulting, long jump, and high jump were happening on the infield, AND there was an awards ceremony with a sponsor happening on the podium. There were simply so many moving parts occuring all at once.

Our primary responsibilities were ensuring all of our sponsors, particularly those with vendor boths in the Vendor Village, were happy. Among businesses with larger displays in the Village were Nike, Grace Foods, Powerade, AAE, Clear Connections, and BMW. Also, Thursday and Friday Milk Marketing gave away bottles of chocolcate milk. In addition, we were responsibile for executing race sponsorships. With many races during the Relays, the more prestigious championship races were used as sponsorship inventory and were sold to sponsors.

My main responsibilities during the Relays varied per day. On Thursday, our General Manager and I primarily assisted Milk Marketing in their chocolate milk giveaway. Specifically, we took trips every two hours or so to provide them with more milk, ice, and coolers. On Friday, I assisted in oversight of the Vendor Village and in race sponsorships. On Saturday, most of the day was devoted to escorting sponsor representatives to the awards podium on the infield for races they sponsored. For those races, the sponsor had the opportunity to have someone on hand to present the awards to winners and be present with them during awards pictures.

Over the course of the meet, I also oversaw our excellent staff of student volunteers - all from the Drexel Sport Management Program. The nine volunteers assisted us in Village set-up and in staffing the Philadelphia Inquirer booth and the Penn Athletics Marketing booth.

All-in-all, the Penn Relays were far more complex than I expected. Sure, I had known the facts of the meet well-enough to sell our sponsorship inventory, but I did not know to expect the sheer size and importance of it.

In the past, I've assisted in game operations and execution in both men's and women's soccer, but the Penn Relays blow both of those out of the water. During the Penn Relays, I worked with and met a great group of sponsors and representatives, shared in the excitement of the events, and I created memories and experiences I will never forget, with the latter being the most important.

In addition to serving as President of the Sport Management Student Union (SMTSU), Kevin Giordano is a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel University with industry experience working in men's and women's professional soccer and collegiate athletics. To contact or connect with Kevin, you can follow him on Twitter (@KevinGiordano) or connect with him here on LinkedIn.