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Why the St. Louis Blues are Turning to Inviting Spaces Inside Newly-Renamed Enterprise Center

Heading into year two of a three-year renovation plan, the Blues are looking to create inviting spaces that will appeal to a wide variety of fans.

Adam White

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A look at the new Ledge Table and Ledge Box experience inside of Enterprise Center (Image via the St. Louis Blues)

Gone are the days of most fans paying for a ticket, hot dog, beer and leaving a stadium and arena feeling content and happy with their experience. Fans have become more sophisticated with their tastes and now not only expect, but demand an experience worth their time and monetary investment.

Built in 1993, the newly-renamed Enterprise Center (thanks to a recently signed 15-year agreement with locally headquartered company Enterprise) had not seen any major renovations since its doors first opened and welcomed Blues fans to a game in downtown St. Louis. Now, in year two of a three-year renovation process that will see everything from the ice plant and video board replaced to refurbished bathrooms and public gathering spaces, the Blues are elevating the experience for their fans through new premium areas, upgraded concessions, brand new seating, and an expanded merchandise store.

The transition started last year when the organization took out over 400 seats and 8 suites to create Theater Boxes that allowed fans a high-end experience without having to shell out for a suite.

“We had 97 suites before we built the Theater Boxes, which we felt was too many for a market this size. Most markets of our size have about 60 suites,” said Josh Bender, Vice President, Ticketing and Guest Experience for the Blues. “We wanted to create a product for people who couldn’t necessarily use a whole suite for entertaining at every event, but at the same time wanted to create a very premium experience for 4-6 of their best clients or employees. Other venues have been very successful with this concept.”

Having the chance to attend 100+ events a year while also enjoying larger, more comfortable chairs, premium service and the best food and beverage experience in the arena, the Theater Boxes have quickly become one of the most sought-after offerings in the arena.

“We sold out relatively quickly,” added Bender. “They have been very well received and we now have a substantial waiting list for them.”

The Blues are also elevating all of their premium spaces with experiences in mind.

“We wanted to enhance the experience of a wide range of clients. When it comes to our premium clients, for example, last year we had about 1,600 Club Seats. All of these guests were serviced by a club in the end zone called the Bud Light Zone for their all-inclusive food and beverage offering. We try our best, but there are limits to the experience when you put that many people in a small space. You really want to enhance the experience of those people who are paying a premium.

Now, in one half of the new club, called the Clark Avenue Club, we are building a direct access lounge right behind the seats that will give fans a much better experience including higher quality amenities, a better F&B experience, with a capacity of only 732. We are essentially tripling the amount of square footage per person in this new Club.

On the other half of the club, we are changing to what we call Terrace seating and we are creating more of a premium value experience for our clients. They won’t have an all-inclusive offering, but they are going to have a $25 loaded ticket for every game per ticket so they can create they own food and beverage experience and the lowered ticket price will reflect that flexibility and value. They will have close access as well to a Sports Bar space we are creating on the Club level.”

Thanks to the success and demand for the Theater Boxes, part of the new renovation includes a seating area opposite the theater boxes that will provide fans with a similar elevated experience.

“We had such great feedback from the Theater Boxes that we wanted to create a comparable experience on the other side of the arena,” said Bender. “Although access will only be for Blues games, we anticipate the demand to be just as strong for this area. Clients will be able to select from a couple of different seating options, while also experiencing the same first-class service as the Theater Box product.”

If there is one trend these changes help capture is that attending games is more about the whole experience than just what happens on the ice, something Bender and his team want to make sure is the best for every fan, regardless of their price point.

A look at one of the refreshed concourses inside Enterprise Center (Image via St. Louis Blues)

“We want to give fans a wide variety of elevated experiences. We are still very cognizant of those who want to come to the game, sit in their seats, and enjoy their hot dog and beer experience. We are keeping and enhancing that experience, but we are also creating elevated experiences at different price levels all the way up to our new rinkside space where we are creating a new, event level lounge for our clients who sit close to the glass.”

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It’s these types of experiences that Tim Rebich, a Principal at Centerfold Agency, says will allow teams like the Blues to create new opportunities for brands to connect with consumers.

“Creating a variety of experiences within a stadium allows for a lot of different opportunities for the fan or even sponsor experiences. The fan can benefit from being able to ‘explore’ these neighborhoods while being connected to the overarching brand.”

From fans to brands and everyone in between, renovations like what the Blues are doing for Enterprise Center are only positives for the industry as a whole.

Adam is the Founder and CEO of Front Office Sports. A University of Miami Alum, Adam has worked for opendorse, the Fiesta Bowl, and the University of Miami Athletic Department. He can be reached at adam@frntofficesport.com.

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.

Front Office Sports

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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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Ticket Sales

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.

Front Office Sports

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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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Ticket Sales

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.

Front Office Sports

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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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