Tag Archives: Florida

Jacksonville Fights Off Blackouts with Attendance Boost

24 Nov

Six months ago, murmurs of relocation plagued the Jacksonville (Fla.) Jaguars. Noise of the team’s struggles to sell tickets, problems connecting with their fan base and the Jaguars’ inability to avoid TV blackouts grew beyond a hum.

Jacksonville finished last season selling less than 80 percent of available seats at Everbank Field, ranking 30th of 32 National Football League teams in attendance, according to league records. The team plays in a flooded Florida sports market and are in one of the most difficult divisions in the NFL, the AFC South. The division includes the Super Bowl runner-up Indianapolis Colts, who nearly went undefeated last season, and the long-successful Tennessee Titans.

Jaguars SVP Macky Weaver said the 2010 season is viewed by the organization as a crossroads: either bring fans in or accept the possibility of relocation, possibly to Los Angeles. “We had a difficult season in 2009,” Weaver said. “It was time for this city to decide if they wanted a team.”

Halfway through 2010, Weaver calls the city’s response to the ultimatum a “resounding yes.”  Jacksonville’s attendance has increased by more than 14,000 per game from the mid-point of the NFL season last year, by far the biggest increase in the league. Since their Sept. 12 trouncing of the Denver Broncos, the team has sold out the 63,047-seat stadium and avoided a league-mandated blackout for all home games.

Sixteen of the league’s 32 teams have seen attendance losses thus far in 2010, some around five percent. San Diego, Buffalo, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and St. Louis are averaging 4,000 fewer fans per game than through nine weeks last season, according to the NFL. Overall attendance is down 0.5 percent, averaging around 350 fewer fans per game, or 11,515 total. If you subtract the Jaguars’ attendance boom, the other 31 teams are down more than one percent.

Jacksonville has been insistent on learning lessons from other teams’ failures. The team looked deep into its fan base’s needs by conducting focus groups during the offseason.

“As you could imagine, number one across the board on everyone’s list is quality of play and the direction of the team, which from a business side we don’t have a lot of control over,” Weaver said. “But, the number two thing was feeling valued by the team and organization. We took a step back and looked at that component because we can affect that. Trying to establish a value proposition for our fans for buying tickets outside of just being able to come to the games. Looking for opportunities to engage with the team to get value outside of what happens on Sunday.”

Jacksonville attributes part of the attendance jump to unique season ticket incentive packages. “We created a book where if you are a season ticket holder you receive a coupon book that has about $2,500 in value,” Weaver said. “You get $10 to $20 off local restaurants, $50 at some of the nicer ones, it really adds some outside value to being a season ticket holder, which our fans appreciated and it helped motivate some people to get back on the bandwagon.”

Despite being plus 14,000 in attendance, there will still be struggles in the second half of the season.  Traditionally, NFL attendance numbers slip as teams fall out of contention (which is possible for the 5-4 Jaguars). At 2009 season’s end, the average leaguewide attendance was 65,043, and at the halfway point of ’09, the average NFL game was drawing close to 68,000 per game.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL expects no different this season. “(It) continues to be our projection that paid attendance for the season will be down one to two percent,” Aiello said.

Jacksonville isn’t the only team trying to uphold strong attendance numbers. Detroit has seen the second biggest boost, bringing in nearly 5,000 more fans per home game than at this point last season.  Washington and Miami have drawn 2,700 or more above last year’s mid-season totals, according to league attendance figures. Indianapolis, Tennessee and Philadelphia have also performed well, averaging more than 100 percent of capacity.

Keeping Jacksonville in the success category and relocation noise mute, Weaver said, rests on the shoulders of attendance numbers.

“It’s all interconnected; attendance, ratings on TV, they all drive other revenue opportunities from sponsorships to merchandise to concessions sales,” Weaver said. “It is an important cog in the wheel to make sure we are successful everywhere we can be and that we compete with other teams in the NFL.” — Matthew Coller

Interviewed for this article: Macky Weaver, (904) 633-6207; Greg Aiello, (212) 450-2000


BankUnited Center Expansion Approved

6 Oct

The eight-year-old BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla., has received approval from the University of Miami and city leaders to expand the arena from 7,972 seats to 9,830 seats as part of the a $22 million expansion. The arena will also now be allowed to serve beer, wine and liquor for certain concerts and events.
Contact: Allison Dobin, (305) 284-8165

Miami PAC Launches Gin-Themed Lounge

23 Sep

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami has built out the former 1929 Sears Tower – vacant for more than 25 years – and is getting into the gin game.

In partnership with Miami-based Bacardi U.S.A., Inc., the venue will launch the Bombay Sapphire Lounge on Oct. 19, named after one of the spirit maker’s most popular drinks.

The $1.2 million lounge is the first stand-alone venue themed after Bombay Sapphire Gin, the fastest-growing premium gin brand in the world. Bacardi has made a $300,000 contribution to the project in exchange for five-year naming rights to the lounge.

“It is designed as a destination in and of itself, and provides for a total patron experience,” said John Richard, president and CEO of the Adrienne Arscht Center. “It keeps them here longer.”

The lounge is on the street level of the Art Deco Carnival Tower, on the corner of 13th and Biscayne, an area that is rapidly becoming Miami’s town square, Richard said.

The 60-seat interior design pays homage to the area’s Art Deco history, and features a large-scale collage of vintage Miami photographs. The menu will include specialty cocktails created by award-winning Bombay Sapphire mixologist Milo Rodriquez, and tapas light bites.

“The land [for the Adrienne Arsht Center] donated 20 years ago was the old Sears building, and the Art Deco signature tower was saved, preserved and reinforced,” he said. “It has been empty for 27 years, so we are bringing an incredibly beautiful Art Deco feature back to life.”

Reviving the dormant facility has been part of the performing arts center’s business plan, Richard said, as revenue from food and beverage helps support the arts mission.

Last fall, the center partnered with restaurateur Barton G., opening the on-property Prelude Restaurant.

Between the Barton G. restaurant, the Bombay Sapphire Lounge, and the venue’s bistro bars, Ken Harns, VP of operations for the venue said they expect the facilities’ two kitchens to serve approximately 225 tables before curtain.

“The death knell of many great establishments is fixed costs,” Richard said. “We were fortunate that we banked the capital we needed to do a build out of the tower, so the arts center will not have debt service.”

Richard projects a “modest return” from commissions from the lounge, and the income generated will support the center’s educational missions. – Liz Boardman

Interviewed for this article: John Richard and Ken Harns, (786) 468-2201

Naming Rights Report

7 Aug

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

Date Announced: July 28

Buyer: Wells Fargo

Terms: A continuation of the Wachovia contract of 29 years, $40 million. 

Ownership/Management/Tenant: Comcast-Spectacor/Global Spectrum/Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers

Comments: In the aftermath of the financial industry meltdown of 2008, Wells Fargo & Co. purchased Wachovia. As they begin to change over 300 former Wachovia branches in Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey, they are changing the name of the Wachovia Center as well. 

The Wachovia name began coming off the building last week.

“There are three signs, and it takes time, because they have to be removed letter by letter,” said Ike Richman, spokesman for Comcast-Spectacor. “While we have renamed the building already, we hope to have the transition complete in time for the Lady Gaga concert on Sept. 14.”

“The contract successor owns the naming rights, so we are still in the original deal,” Richman said. 

The 29-year, $40 million deal was originally made with CoreStates Financial Corp. in 1996. A year later, the Philadelphia-based bank sold to First Union Corp., which later merged with Wachovia Bank.  

“We have done this a couple of times already, so we have an inventory of signs, napkins, and cups that need to be changed that we can pull out,” Richman said. 

That said, Richman said that the explosion in social networking changed how they announced the switch.

“When we first did [a name change] it was harder to get the new name out. We had to make sure newspapers, television and radio knew,” Richman said. “At 7:15 a.m., I tweeted that the signs were coming down, and in five minutes, I had more than 100 retweets. By 7:30 a.m., people were reading the tweet on the air. 

He also placed a video of the letters coming down on Facebook, and found people were quickly commenting and reforwarding it. 

“I hadn’t even sent a press release out,” Richman said.

Contact: Ike Richman, (215) 389-9552

EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.


Date Announced: July 27

Buyer: EverBank Financial Corp., a Jacksonville-based financial corporation

Terms: 5 years, with an option, $16 million

Broker: Velocity Sports & Entertainment

Ownership/Management/Tenant: City of Jacksonville/SMG/Jacksonville Jaguars

Comments: The Jacksonville Municipal Stadium has been without a naming rights deal since 2006, when a deal with Alltell expired. That is changing. On July 27, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced a five-year, $16 million deal with EverBank Financial Corp., a Jacksonville-based bank. The deal must receive final approval from the Jacksonville City Council, who will consider the matter on Aug. 10. 

The deal includes options to extend the terms beyond five years. 

“We look forward to a long and mutually-beneficial partnership with the Jaguars and as a member of the NFL family,” said Robert Clements, president and CEO of EverBank. 

“The partnership includes EverBank’s designation as the official bank of the Jaguars, business presence at Jaguars’ home games, plus extensive advertising and promotions within Jaguars’ game telecasts and a variety of other media, rights to the Jaguars and EverBank Field marks, prominent permanent signage in the stadium and elsewhere in Jacksonville, and many other benefits,” Clements said.  “More details about business presence at EverBank Field will be unveiled during the course of the partnership.”

Community outreach partnerships are also in the works, Clements said, and the company will “receive extensive hospitality and unique experiences at EverBank Field.”

The stadium address is being changed to One EverBank Field Drive. 

Contact: Robert Clements and Kevin O’Keefe, (646) 325-7739 — Liz Boardman