Tag Archives: MLB

Cardinals Cash Creates Cuisine Currency

23 Aug

The St. Louis Cardinals have become the third major league baseball team to utilize stored value ticketing through Tickets.com.

Named Card Cash, the program allows fans to assign value to the bar codes of tickets, which can be redeemed for food, beverage and merchandise purchases. The program utilizes Tickets.com’s UpTix software, and can be used by fans who want to add food to tickets they give to their guests, or by teams as a promotion.

On July 31, the Cardinals held a pre-game ceremony in honor of former Hall of Fame Manager Whitey Herzog, whose number 24 was being retired. Ticketholders for every seat number 24 throughout the ballpark received $5 in Cards Cash added to their ticket. Each person seated in section 240 also received $5 in Card Cash, and a $5 bonus for each strikeout thrown in the third-inning (there was one). The team estimated that 75 percent of ticket holders that received “24” themed Card Cash spent all or part of their winnings that day.

“It’s a good tool to drive per caps, they get prepaid revenue and they get lift from having prepaid tickets,” said John Rizzi SVP of Product Management and Strategy for Tickets.com.

All of the POS systems at Busch Stadium in St. Louis accept Card Cash as a form of payment, along with the team store. The system can detail which fans from which sections purchased concessions from specific food stations, creating never seen before geolocational data.

The Houston Astros utilize a stored value system on the Ticketmaster platform, and the Philadelphia Phillies run a similar program on Paciolan. The San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics — both Tickets.com clients — also use UpTix.

“Rather than using discounts to move tickets, we’ve found it is a great way to add value” to distressed inventory, said Steve Fanelli, the team’s director of ticketing.

The team rolled out the platform this season, replacing its $35 all-you-can-eat section with a $6 ticket that came preloaded with $6 worth of food, priced at $12. The 990-seat section typically moves 650-700 seats per game, Fanelli said. The section has a value menu with $5 beer and $4 pulled pork sandwiches.

UpTix has also helped with some group sales, and the team hopes to roll out the program for season tickets next season.

Oakland also puts an expiration date on unspent value in the gift card, but Fanelli said the goal isn’t to keep unspent money, known as breakage, but to encourage people to spend more than the card’s value, a practice known as lift. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: John Rizzi, (714) 327-5469; Steve Fanelli, (510) 563-2270

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Ilitch Goes for Hat Trick with Pistons Acquisition Attempt

13 Aug

Mike Ilitch after winning the Stanley Cup in 2008

Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch has announced his intention to purchase the Detroit Pistons and possibly move them out of the suburbs and into a new downtown arena. If he is successful, he’d be the owner of three professional sports teams, including the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball.

The 81-year-old creator of the Little Caesars Pizza chain said he was concerned that the Pistons might move out of state. Pistons Owner Bill Davidson died at the age of 86 in March 2009 and his widow Karen Davidson has since put the team on the market and entertained several overtures from out-of-state bidders.

“When I read in the paper there was the chance that this great sports town could lose one of its professional sports franchises, I just didn’t see how we could let that happen,” Ilitch wrote in a statement. “I really want to see the Pistons remain the Detroit Pistons. We talked about it internally, and when you take our 33 years of experience in professional sports, our commitment to this community, our passion for winning and pursuing championships, and you couple that with the opportunity to have a local, engaged owner for the Pistons, we decided to take a run at it.”

Of course, a Piston’s buyer would get much more than a team. Palace Sports and Entertainment also manages the DTE Energy Music Theatre, as well as the Palace of Auburn Hills, a suburban arena often viewed as one of the top NBA facilities in the U.S. If Ilitch bought the team, he might attempt to move the Pistons downtown, near the bulk of his real estate holdings.  Earlier this year, Ilitch hired former Palace CEO Tom Wilson to work for Olympia Entertainment, just as the Red Wings lease for Joe Louis Arena was set to expire.

“Tom has an intimate knowledge of the Pistons and how they operate,” said Tony Tavares, president of Sports Properties Acquisition Corporation, which assists with big time sports deals. “He is a very capable and competent sports executive, and if anyone knows the Pistons, it’s him.”

The team is considering renovating Joe Louis Arena, or possibly building a new arena.

The price tag for that type of project could be anywhere from $200 to $500 million, although the low price of real estate and construction in Detroit could top the project out at $300 million. It’s unclear how a new project would be financed, but Ilitch already has a number of properties located downtown including Detroit’s Fox Theatre, the Masonic Temple and City Theatre, along with the MotorCity Casino.

“In today’s political environment, building a publicly-funded arena is incredibly difficult,” said Tavares. “He’s probably trying to form some type of public-private partnership to finance the deal.”

There’s also a possibility that Ilitch could move his team to the Palace of Auburn Hills — or abandon the space and sell it at a markdown.

“Keep in mind that the Palace and Joe Louis compete against each other for concerts, so Ilitch is probably going to look to consolidate to one arena,” Tavares said.

The Pistons remain a popular team, winning the championship in 2004 and making it to the playoffs every year until 2009. Last season they only won 26 games, but the team has signed Tracy McGrady in hopes of improving on-court performance.

There is no formal deadline to buy or sell the team, but Davidson has said she’d like to see the transaction completed by the start of the NBA season in late October. Ilitch must then go through a vetting process before the NBA’s Board of Governors, who conduct an audit to ensure Ilitch has enough cash on hand to maintain the team. Forbes magazine estimated the team is worth $479 million, the fourth highest pricetag in the NBA. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Tony Tavares, (775) 853-4712

MLB All-Star Game Wraps With Record Fan Fest

15 Jul

Angels owner Arte Moreno signs an autograph for Patrick Kirsh of Garden Grove at the MLB All-Star FanFest in Anaheim, Calif. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM ANAHEIM, CALIF — The Major League Baseball All-Star Game wrapped Tuesday night, capping off a five-day baseball celebration at the home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The annual Mid-Summer Classic included two back-to-back 5,000-person parties at the nearby Grove of Anaheim, a number of sellout events at Angels Stadium including the Home Run Derby and Tuesday’s All-Star Game, and a FanFest at the Anaheim Convention Center. Aramark was the exclusive concessionaire for all events surrounding the All-Star Game

Attendance and per cap information for the All-Star Game had not been released by deadline, but reports on the FanFest indicate the event was on track to have a record year.

“Friday, the FanFest’s first day, broke an all-time one day record with 24,000 people in attendance,” said David Meek, GM of the convention center.

As part of the city’s bid for the All-Star Game, MLB was given the Convention Center rent-free. The league got to keep 100 percent of the gate revenues, with tickets running $30 per adult and $25 per child.

“There is definitely an upside for us,” said Meek. “We got to keep the food and beverage, and we brought in about $180,000 from parking. The estimated economic impact to the city was $84 million.”

Once inside the FanFest, visitors were treated to three expo halls of baseball-related attractions. Dozens of players were on hand signing autographs and taking pictures. A miniature baseball diamond was constructed in the middle of the convention center with popular team mascots playing home run derby, while a mock locker room gave youngsters a taste of a professional clubhouse. The 2010 World Series trophy, created by Tiffany & Co., was on display, as was Angels owner Arte Moreno, who spent several hours taking pictures with fans and attendees.

FanFest included 104 exhibits and artifacts from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, including a giant map of AA and AAA minor league teams in North America. Sponsors like Fox News, New Era Hats, Sony PlayStation and Progressive Car Insurance had booths, as did a number of memorabilia dealers. Booths were priced between $5,000 and $10,000 for spaces from 10 by 10 feet and 10 by 20 feet.

“We get a lot of feedback from our sponsors because we estimate that most fans spend approximately four hours going through FanFest,” said MLB spokesperson Dan Queen. The entire event takes over 100 trucks for load-in. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: David Meek, (714) 765-8951; Dan Queen, (212) 931-7878