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The Vegas Golden Knights 2018 Success Has Kick Started A New Era In Sports Business

The Las Vegas Golden Knights and their ticket prices are making NHL history.

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Most Expensive NHL 1st Round Series

 

*This post is part of the brand new FOS Insights program. TicketIQ is a proud launch partner of the program. 

While technically not the first expansion team to reach the NHL playoffs, the Golden Knights are the first team to do so in the modern NHL expansion era, which began in 1991.  At 7/1 odds to win the oldest trophy in sports, their casino neighbors have also made them one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup–definitely a first. As a result, demand for Vegas Golden Knights playoff tickets are amongst the highest in the NHL. Having filled T-Mobile arena at 103% during the regular season, it’s been this way since October since #VegasBorn was born. Whether the Knights are still playing in the June desert heat, it’s a good bet that the gambling-friendly Knights uncovered a new model for driving demand to live sporting events.

Prior to the Knights, the NHL’s effort to bring hockey to the desert been hasn’t been the most successful. Now in their 21st year, the Arizona Coyotes moved from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996, and have won a total of 11 playoff games in that time. That’s a pace of less than one playoff win each year of existence, well under the Knight’s current pace.  As a result, the ‘Yotes’ filled their Gila River Arena at a depressing 76% of capacity – one spot ahead of the league-worst Carolina Hurricanes.

While VGK’s 100%-plus attendance has been driven by several factors, it’s proximity to and acceptance of gambling may be the thing that other team owners notice most. Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, may be most interested for reasons I detailed in a Techcrunch article last year.

In an excellent article from late last month, Darren Rovell frames Leonsis as purveyor of a future gambling-infused game-day experience, where betting is as much a part of the appeal as beer and dogs. Time will tell how much of his vision is imagination versus real.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court’s pending decision on ‘Christie Vs. NFL’ will have a lot to say about who can do what, when. While parties are typically at odds in a lawsuit, this case on the potential repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992  (PASPA) has everyone aligned around the benefit of gambling to the bottom line, for both teams and state.

If PASPA is struck down, as is widely expected, Christie has said that New Jersey could go live with sports gambling ahead of the 2018 NFL season, at Monmouth race track. With at least four professional sports teams in the Garden state, and Leonsis just 200 miles down  I-95, the NJ-DC-PA corridor could become a hotbed of live sports gambling innovation. Depending on how it plays out, it could the first meaningful response to television that live sports have had in the 25-year battle against the couch.

The last time an expansion team qualified for the playoffs in 1979-1980, Wayne Gretzky was the NHL’s rising star. While the Oilers lost their first series that year to the Flyers, they would win enough of them to collect five Stanley Cups in the next decade. The Oilers also gave the NHL a bonafide mass-media star that would set the foundation for the league’s current $2 billion TV deal with NBC.

Amidst the current wave of inward-facing nationalism, the time for gambling-driven growth model appears nigh. Unlike the internationally-driven expansion efforts that have stretched out the NFL, NBA, and MLB to London, Mexico, and China, gambling-driven expansion will keep people close to home. More importantly, it will keep people close to their phones and the apps that will power a gambling-infused game day going at a piece of the $100 billion legal gambling marketplace.  

After a five-year rebuild, the Devils of New Jersey are back in the playoffs for the first time since Martin Brodeur retired with three Stanley Cups of his own. For their first-round games at the Prudential Center in 2018, the average price for a ticket is $242 which makes it the fifth cheapest first-round home series on the secondary ticket market, and $200 less than the Vegas Golden Knights.

If sports gambling is legal New Jersey next season, a Sportsbook at the Prudential center could take bets on games around the country and world, including the main live event, the Devils. For a marquee game like their first-round game, demand might be double current prices, drawing in demand from dollars that previously would have been lost to a Casino.  

For the Devils, the NHL and every other league, what’s most exciting – and as a long-time sports fan, slightly unsettling – is that they may not care who’s actually playing.

TicketIQ is the leading ticket search engine that works directly with teams, venues and promoters and other sellers to deliver the best deals on tickets and a Low Price Guarantee.

Ticket Sales

Inside The Huddle: Membership Programs with Aaron Lampkin

Seattle Sounders FC’s Director of Ticket Sales shares his insights on breaking into and succeeding within the sports industry.

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In the buildup to Front Office Sports’ Ticketing Huddle at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 10, we’re introducing you to the huddle leaders who will be lending their expertise to the conversation.

Today, meet Aaron Lampkin, Director of Ticket Sales with Seattle Sounders FC. A Spokane, Washington native, Lampkin graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Denver where he was also a basketball student-athlete. There, Lampkin first realized his desire to turn his passion for sports into a career.

“I realized my junior year of college that my time playing basketball was pretty much over. When I started to think about career options, I wanted to be in a situation where I control my destiny. In sales, you definitely can and having a background made it a little bit more my cup of tea to sell sports.”

After graduation, Lampkin interned with the Colorado Rapids, which is a part of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment. Lampkin utilized his time as an intern to learn as much as he could and make a positive impression in hopes of landing a full-time job.

“The Rapids didn’t have an inside sales training program at the time. So I put 15 minutes on my calendar with every single department head, discussed my career goals and how I was going to attain those, and basically said if there’s a full-time opportunity, I want to at least be in consideration.”

Lampkin was then hired as a sales rep for Kroenke Sports and Entertainment before working in membership services specifically for the Colorado Avalanche (another Kroenke entity) for nearly five years, including two as the team’s manager of membership services.

“I really wanted to just prove and show that I could teach value better than anybody else regardless of position and just because your position doesn’t really limit what you can do on the sales side,” he says. “I want to teach people to be the strongest in their routine and in bringing in new business. My teams embody that.”

Lampkin came to the Sounders in June of 2018. As a sales director, Lampkin takes great pride in managing young reps for advancement. Reps that Lampkin has trained have moved onto management positions in the NFL, NBA and other major sports leagues. This is a point of great personal pride for him. Conversely, with several years of teaching under his belt, Lampkin says the biggest mistake he sees young reps make is giving up before realizing their potential.

The thing that hurts me the most is knowing that we do have reps who have potential to be extraordinary that are early in the learning process and/or they want that promotion tomorrow instead of focusing on the process and perfecting their craft,” he says. “It limits their overall growth. I see reps give up too early and not see the vision fully through [rather] than spending time to understand their why.”

In order to take the first big step in their career, Lampkin advises young reps to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack that is getting more competitive by the day.

“Be proactive in interviews or conversations,” he says. “Get to know reps and managers and directors and the industry of what they’ve done to be successful. I would tell anybody who’s looking to get into the industry to start early because there are hundreds of applications that come in for every opening. If you can differentiate yourself before an interview starts, you have a much higher chance.”

Meet Aaron and hear more of his thoughts on the current ticketing space at the Front Office Sports Ticketing Huddle at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA on May 10. For tickets and additional info, click here.

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Giants Search for Ways to Weather Attendance Dip

The team, which finished third or fourth in attendance each of the last eight seasons, currently finds itself 13th in the league.

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Photo Credit: Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

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

From 2010 through 2014, the San Francisco Giants were dominant on the field, scooping up three World Series victories in five seasons. Since then, the team has only made the playoffs once in the last four years.

Boasting a seven-year sellout streak until 2017, the team is now looking at new ways to keep fans engaged with an on-field product that hasn’t lived up to expectations set by past success, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

What do you need to know?

1. The team, which finished 3rd or 4th in attendance each of the last eight seasons, currently finds itself 13th in the league.

2. One of the changes includes having weekday games start at 6:45 p.m. instead of 7:15 p.m., giving fans the opportunity to be home earlier during the week.

3. Another change includes forgoing the annual hike in season-ticket prices this season.

4. In an effort to improve the fan experience in the venue, the team unveiled a new $10 million scoreboard this season. At over 150-feet-by-70-feet, it is the third-largest in the league.

Focus groups prove successful…

After another poor on-field performance last year, the team turned to focus groups to make sure they were getting a pulse on their 30,000 season ticket holders. Hosting 10 of these focus groups after the season, many of the strategies implemented this season have come as a direct result of those groups.

The biggest, according to Schulman, was the team reducing their season-ticket base by 2,500 by limiting sales to legal ticket brokers. The goal? Give season-ticket holders the chance to get more money for their tickets on the secondary market.

“We need to learn as much as we can from them so we can be selling more of what the customer wants and not what we want to sell.” – Russ Stanley, the Giants’ managing vice president of ticket sales and services, to Schulman about the benefits of the groups.

Is it all bad?

While the total butts in seats might not be ideal for the team, there are other metrics that ownership is likely very pleased with.

For one, according to Forbes, the team, now valued at $3 billion, is the fifth-most valuable team in Major League Baseball.

The team has also done a good job at maximizing the fans it has when it comes to revenue opportunities. According to the same Forbes report, the Giants make $183 in revenue per fan, far and away the most in the league. The next closest? The Red Sox at $105 per fan.

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Meet the #Rising25: Andrew DiMario of Austin FC

Meet Andrew DiMario, Manager of Sales at Austin FC. A 2016 Ohio Northern University graduate, DiMario is racking up accomplishments in ticket sales.

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The #Rising25 class of 2019, presented by AB InBev, represents some of the brightest young professionals in the sports industry. Over the next several weeks, we’re proud to introduce you to this year’s winners and highlight some of their achievements to date.

Today, meet Andrew DiMario, Manager of Sales at Austin FC.

A 2016 graduate of Ohio Northern University, DiMario worked in temporary positions with the Cleveland Indians and Dayton Dragons during his time as a student while also playing college football. Shortly after graduation, DiMario spent a year as an Account Executive at IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions in San Antonio, where he generated $558,957 in sales.

READ MORE: Meet the #Rising25: Adam Johnson of ISM Raceway

DiMario fell in love with sports and its competitive nature at a young age. By the time he reached college, there was no question he wanted to work within the sports industry in some capacity.

“For me, it was exactly what I wanted to do, so I went after it. I was all in, there was no other option,” DiMario says of his decision to pursue a career in sports. “I knew and set my goals early on, and I feel like that dedicated focus allowed me to translate everything I learned as a student-athlete into big accomplishments early in my professional career.”

Following his time in San Antonio, DiMario returned home to Ohio to become Manager of Inside Sales for the Columbus Crew SC, where he helped his department exceed their new season membership goal by 137% in 2017. DiMario was the leader of the sales team in Columbus, which enabled him to help fifteen different reps reach higher-ranking positions either within the Crew or with different sports organizations, an achievement DiMario takes a great amount of pride in.

Then, in January of 2019, the Crew’s ownership group at the time asked DiMario to return to Texas to start a position with Austin FC in effort to build the foundation for the newest team in the MLS. The club will play its first match in 2021.

DiMario prides himself on being a sponge. With each personal or professional encounter, DiMario tries to gain a better understanding of the human condition, which in turn makes him an effective leader of people and better sales professional.

“From a learning and development standpoint, I try to absorb as much as I can from as many different people as I can,” he says. “It helps you gain a better understanding of other people’s perspectives and ideas. You can learn something from everyone in this business, regardless of their rank or position. I learn something each day from my own staff.”

READ MORE: Rising 25 Class of 2019

Up to this point, DiMario has achieved success through a high level of dedication, consistency, and unrivaled work ethic. His advice to the next generation of sports business professionals is to exhibit the same type of determination day in and day out.

“Make it obvious. I try to instill that motto into every rep that I work with. If you make it obvious that you are working hard, continuing to develop, and putting up numbers, then at the end of the day, managers or supervisors will have no choice but to promote you or recognize your work. I’ve always strived to leave no doubt in people’s minds that I’m doing the job at the highest level, making a significant impact. You may only get one opportunity in this industry, take advantage of it.”

Meet the full class of 2019 here.

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