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Tunes and Touchdowns: How Music Will Play a Huge Role at the Super Bowl

By creating a musical event at the Super Bowl, On Location Experiences is solidifying its place as a leader in the experiential hospitality business.

Scot Chartrand

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Photo via On Location Experiences

The music industry and the sports world have long been a natural match. You don’t have to remind the athletes and well-known musical acts of that, but when attending a tentpole sporting event, the trend of the last decade has been to complement that event with a concert or a large music festival. 

A decade ago, that might mean that a Pro Football Hall of Fame Weekend would include a performance by Canton, Ohio’s own, the O’Jays. Fast forward to now, and Maroon 5 headlined the Concert for Legends at the stadium. In addition, visitors to the NCAA Final Four know that the March Madness Music Fest has become a staple of the traveling road show going back years.

However, the Super Bowl — one event that truly captures the undivided attention of sports fans every year — hasn’t quite had that same accompanying treatment.

Until now.

In an effort to create a blowout musical event to pair with the Super Bowl, Don Renzulli, executive vice president of events at On Location Experiences, is proud of his team’s latest efforts in further solidifying its place as a leader in the premium experiential hospitality business.

“On Location Experiences was initially launched in March 2015, when the NFL was seeking a strategic reposition of its premium events and hospitality business,” he said of the company, which besides its NFL work, also operates well-known brands in the sports travel business such as PrimeSport and Anthony Travel. “From then, we have grown by providing unrivaled access to corporate clients and fans looking for immersive experiences at the biggest events in sports and entertainment.”

READ MORE: Why Winning Should No Longer Be a Strategy When It Comes to Driving Attendance

On Sunday, February 3, the AFC and NFC will send their best to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

From Thursday, January 31 to Saturday, February 2, many of the most popular and cleverly selected feature acts from the music industry will also descend upon Georgia to add to the atmosphere and experience at the brand-new Super Bowl Music Fest.

“When looking at major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, there are so many opportunities to really enhance the experience and incorporate the hosting city,” Renzulli said. “In years past, we have helped produce concerts leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, but they were held in a private pop-up venue. With the Super Bowl Music Fest, it allows us to really tap into city’s offerings and work with what is already there, instead of bringing in something new and temporary.

“In short, the Super Bowl Music Fest has always been a part of our plan. This is our third Super Bowl, and with each year, we learn more about the fans, the hosting cities and what we can do to amplify the event.”

Along the way to the Super Bowl, On Location Experiences learned a fair amount from other events stemming from separate partnerships. In turn, that played a substantial part in the design of the Super Bowl Music Fest.

“On Location is involved with numerous events across the sports and music industries. With each one, we gain a little more insight on the important operational aspects that enhances the overall fan experience,” he said. “No matter the size or type of event, we always build our events around the clients’ experience.

“In creating the SBMF, we relied on our previous knowledge of the Super Bowl and the events that surround the weekend, and in combination with our growing involvement in the music industry, we are able to create an event that merges the worlds of sports and music.”

It’s not just the way it’s designed; the inaugural Super Bowl Music Fest features a lineup of heavy hitters from the music industry too. From Bruno Mars and Cardi B to Aerosmith and Post Malone, the festival showcases names that are sure to draw attention. The lineup even features Atlanta’s own Ludacris and Migos to kickoff the festivities the Thursday before the big game.

That, too, was no accident.

“When the plans started to come together for the SBMF, we always wanted to focus on the ‘local’ aspect of the event. From where the event was taking place, to the performers, we wanted the SBMF to be a way to highlight each hosting city and what each uniquely has to offer.”

There was something else “very Atlanta” that came into play when putting together the event for On Location Experiences: the Atlanta Hawks.

The NBA franchise plays in State Farm Arena — next door to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, CNN Center, and major tourist attractions around Centennial Olympic Park. The Hawks’ schedule had to be accounted for as the venue was selected to play host for all events at the Super Bowl Music Fest. If you look closely, the Hawks are on a multi-week road trip leading up to and including Super Bowl LIII.

READ MORE: What the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena Gain from Reduced Concession Prices

“I would say the scheduling of the Hawks was pretty important, especially since State Farm Arena was always on the top of our list as we starting to look for the right venue to host the SBMF,” Renzulli said. “Luckily for us, we were able to partner with the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena to use the space for our event, as well as from a sales and marketing standpoint.

“Steve Koonin, the CEO of the Hawks and State Farm Arena, and his team have really been key partners in the planning and development of this event, and we are absolutely thrilled to be able to have this event at their state-of-the-art arena.”

So, where does the pairing of major sporting events and major music acts go from here? Were there learnings and aspects of putting on the Super Bowl Music Fest that On Location Experiences has already seen as opportunities to leverage in the future?

“Absolutely,” Renzulli said. “We believe that the sports and music industries are intertwined and that there are still more opportunities to be found in this space. Since the Super Bowl Music Fest is the first of its kind, we think it can be used somewhat as a template at future sporting events.”

Scot Chartrand is a contributor with Front Office Sports and has worked in program management driving strategic initiatives at a corporate level. He has a passion for helping clients and corporate stakeholders achieve strategic goals while providing change management and optimizing process that drives repeatable results.

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Nike and US Soccer Team Up for Shoppable Snapchat Lens

For today only, Snapchat users can “try on” the new USWNT home and away jerseys that will be worn by the team in France this summer.

Front Office Sports

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*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

Today only, you will have the chance to “try on” one of the new USWNT home and away jerseys that will be worn in France this summer.

Thanks to a partnership between Nike and US Soccer, Snapchat users will be able to rock the new look via a Snapchat Lens that overlays the jersey and Nike’s famous “Just Do It” slogan on a user’s photo or video.

What do you need to know?

1. That it’s only for live for today, May 9th.

2. The lens is shoppable. Once used, a link out/swipe up opportunity to buy the jersey will appear, allowing users to go from trying it on to purchasing it in only a few clicks.

3. According to a Nike spokesperson, it’s the first time that the brand has ever delivered a shoppable activation for Nike apparel on Snapchat.

Snapchat, Nike and commerce… 

In 2018, when Snap launched Snapchat’s native shopping experience, Jordan became the first brand other than Snap to sell a product via Snapchat.

That night, Jordan dropped the Air Jordan III “Tinker” on Snapchat with same-day delivery available. The shoe sold out in 23 minutes.

The rise of shoppable social media opportunities…

As platforms like Snapchat and Instagram become more refined, shoppable opportunities are natural evolutions to their platforms and ones that brands like adidas have seen success already with.

According to Kasper Rorsted, the CEO of adidas, Instagram played a major role in their online shopping success in Q1.

“There was no doubt that Instagram had a positive impact for our online business in the first quarter. Product launches and Instagram’s checkout tool were the two most important things for our online sales business in the first quarter.”

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Liverpool FC Ready to Build Overseas Brand on U.S. Tour

The Reds take to the States to play three games this summer against German, Spanish and Portuguese foes in historic stadiums.

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Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A thrilling 4-0 win for Liverpool FC Tuesday against FC Barcelona propelled the English Premier League club into the Champions League Final and gave a recently announced United States tour an extra boost.

“Soccer in the U.S. has been growing, gathering momentum for the past decade,” said Bruce Grobbelaar, who played in 624 games as a goalkeeper for Liverpool from 1981 to 1994 and serves as the ambassador for the tour. “Now Liverpool is growing its fanbase in the U.S. A few years ago, there were only 24 U.S. supporters clubs. Now, there’s 49.

“You can see it’s growing, and it will be brilliant after that spectacle the other night.”

The team will travel to the U.S. for three games in July in an effort to grow its brand, with games at Notre Dame Stadium, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Liverpool will play Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, LaLiga’s Sevilla and Portugal’s Sporting CP of Primeira Liga over those three matches.

READ MORE: Jaguars’ Unique Arrangement Builds U.K. Audience

The U.S. tour serves two purposes. First, it provides the team with a challenging preseason schedule ahead of the next Premier League slate. Beyond that, it’s a way to showcase the team to its American fans firsthand.

“We’re heading to three incredible locations this year,” said Billy Hogan, Liverpool FC managing director and chief commercial officer. “Each of these stadiums has their own deep-rooted heritage similar to our own and we’ll face three great opposition teams.

“This trip to the USA will be very special and we’re really looking forward to having as many of our supporters with us along the way.”

Grobbelaar said the mix of opponents will make for a unique cross-branding opportunity to grow the sport of soccer in the U.S. as well as the presence of the respective leagues and teams. He believes historical immigrant populations could provide an interesting storyline to the exhibition matches this summer, as the Midwest was a popular destination for Germans and Brooklyn is now home to a significant Portuguese population.

“I happen to look at where they’re playing the games and the populations of descent,” he said. “It’s a good idea to grow fanbases like that.”

The cross-league exhibitions also represent a prime opportunity for exposure for participating leagues, which in turn promotes the European game and the sport of soccer as a whole. The English Premier League has grown prominently among U.S. soccer fans with its NBC broadcast deal the past decade and now other leagues are making their investments in growing the U.S. market well known.

Front Office Sports has detailed both the efforts by the German Bundesliga and Spain’s LaLiga in recent months, each of which noted strong potential in U.S. soccer growth versus limited growth potential in their already established home markets. Bundesliga cited data of 59.6 million soccer fans in the U.S. and growing, leaving plenty of room for leagues and teams to gain fans.

“Right now, interest levels are growing so much, everybody benefits,” said Arne Rees, Bundesliga Americas executive vice president of strategy. “I have no idea if in 10 years we’ll be in a food fight for the same fan, but it’s not exclusive right now.”

In the long run, Grobbelaar believes the U.S. soccer market will be controlled by the MLS as it fills out its expansion plans and the leagues underneath it, including USL Championship and USL League One, continue their growth. But even with those leagues growing in strength and commanding local fandom, Grobbelaar said the U.S. will have room for foreign team supporters. Likewise, to continue the growth of soccer in the U.S., the U.S. men’s national team needs to join the women’s team in international play success. A CONCACAF Gold Cup win and continued World Cup qualification would also help, and Grobbelaar believes the U.S. could play in a World Cup Final in the next decade.

“If you look at the MLS, they’ve attracted a lot of foreign players from Europe, South America; a very diverse situation,” said Grobbelaar who played in the North American Soccer League prior to his Liverpool career. “The younger U.S. generations will see that and want to follow international soccer.”

READ MORE: Gold Cup Looks To Gain Mileage This Summer With Valvoline

But before any of that, or even the Liverpool U.S. tour, can happen, American Liverpool supporters are heading to Las Vegas for a big Champions League final watch party in early June. Grobbelaar said at least 30 U.S. Liverpool FC supporter groups will make their way to Las Vegas to hear three Liverpool legends: David Johnson, Roy Evans and Howard Gayle.

“They’ll be out there to tell their stories, grow the Liverpool brand,” he said. “David Johnson has some stories.”

It’s another step on top of the club’s Champions League success and this summer’s U.S. tour toward increasing its foreign presence. The road is still long, but the club whose motto is “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is intent on coaxing plenty of Americans to join them on it.

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Daytona Tortugas Hope to Push Women’s Sports Forward with NPF Deal

The Beijing Shougang Eagles will play their home games in Daytona’s Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Tortugas ownership believes the move befits Robinson’s name.

Mike Piellucci

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Photo Courtesy of Daytona Tortugas

What’s in a name? Plenty, says Daytona Tortugas Co-Owner Rick French, where the team’s home stadium of Jackie Robinson Ballpark is concerned.

That’s what led the Reds’ High-A affiliate to create a groundbreaking partnership with the Chinese Softball Association which will see the Beijing Shougang Eagles of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) women’s softball league play their entire 2019 home slate at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, which overlaps with part of the current minor league baseball season. The occasional double-header aside, the Eagles’ home games will coincide with Tortugas road games. According to team president Ryan Keur, the deal is the first of its kind between a MiLB and NPF team.

For French, the agreement was no-brainer. The ballpark is where Robinson played the first racially integrated game in professional baseball history, and French believes that, as the stadium’s primary tenant, the Tortugas have an obligation to uphold Robinson’s legacy as a boundary-breaker. In this case, that means providing stability for the Eagles, who did not have a full-time home after spending 2017 playing at multiple parks in Ohio before bouncing around Florida last year.

READ MORE: LPGA’s ‘Drive On’ Campaign Highlights Diversity, Inclusion, Empowerment

“We bear the name of somebody who transcends gender and race and spoke to diversity,” French says. “The idea of stabilizing women’s professional sports and potentially giving one of these squads a home at a ballpark where he broke the color barrier was something that spoke to me personally.”

The impetus for the deal came from a series of upgrades to “The Jack,” as Keur calls it, most notably the installation of an artificial playing surface. That opened the doorway to attracting new opportunities, and Keur says that the organization was anticipating a more packed schedule in 2019.

Integrating another professional sports team, though, exceeded the bounds of his imagination. Both Keur and French readily admit the agreement comes with challenges. As part of the deal, the Tortugas will handle all marketing, ticket sales and game-day production for the Eagles’ 25 home games as well as handle additional field maintenance.

“We recognize that within the ownership that it’s asking a lot of our staff,” French says, and Keur notes the team has already brought on additional part-time staff to help shoulder the load before the NPF begins in mid-May.

Ultimately, though, Keur says the organization is viewing this season through the lens of opportunity – not only for what it provides the Eagles but also through what the Tortugas’ staff can demonstrate with a fresh canvas to work with.

“I think this is a great way to showcase what we can do now at the Ballpark,” he says. “It gives us 25 new openings here at the Ballpark to entertain and engage our fans.”

READ MORE: AT&T’s Logo Deal With WNBA Represents Deeper Strategy With NBA

Then there’s the revenue piece. Keur estimates the deal is worth $10 million in economic impact, with a healthy chunk coming from 5,000 sold hotel rooms over the course of the NPF’s three-month season. That number could climb in a big way, too. The Eagles essentially double as the Chinese national softball team and are in the process of attempting to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If they succeed, they’ll return to Daytona Beach to train for the game for another three months as well as hold exhibition games. The Tortugas are optimistic that the team and city’s relationship with Chinese Softball Association can blossom further from there.

To French, though, the bigger-picture impacts transcend pure economics. He believes that too many women “have had to play in facilities that are not up to the standards of professional baseball.” The solution is much bigger than anything the Tortugas can conjure up on their own. But he is confident that the agreement is a step in the right direction – and, hopefully, a call to arms.

“We hope that it sends a message to other minor league clubs… that they should be getting behind as well as providing women’s sports and these players the same kind of opportunities that we provide,” he says. “What makes us proud is the ability to take a team of female professional athletes who have dreams like every other athlete and give them a great facility and a great infrastructure in which we can support those dreams.”

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