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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

Social Spaces Rule the Day at Venues

Beyond just providing fans with another option in which to take in the event, these spaces have also created more sponsorship inventory.

Front Office Sports

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Photo via Richmond Raceway

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

Everywhere you look, a new social space is popping up at a venue. Beyond just providing fans with another option in which to take in the event, these spaces have also created more sponsorship inventory.

Opening Chaos Corner last year, Richmond Raceway saw great success in attracting fans with options such as cheaper concession prices.

Ahead of this year’s season, we caught up with Dennis Bickmeier, President of Richmond Raceway to see why the track has turned to social spaces, why options are important, and why Larry’s Hard Lemonade came aboard this year as a sponsor of Chaos Corner.

On building social spaces…

“When we started the design process, I wanted to do something similar to what we were beginning to see in other sports. Party decks were creating a social atmosphere and more of a gathering during sports events. We designed our party deck without fixed seating and levels deep enough for barstools and standing room space to congregate during the race. It was important that this area be in the middle of the action, so you can see and feel the race. From the infield to grandstands to the midway, we have areas that are essentially built around socializing.”



On offering different experiences…

“It is important to make sure we have a variety of offerings and strike the right balance between price point and experience. When you look across the spectrum of who is coming to our races, we have everything from first-time attendees or casual fans to long-time avid fans and season ticket holders with each group having different wants and expectations for their race-day experience. It is up to us to provide the menu and let them make the selection that is the best fit for the experience they want. Once they decide, then it is up to us to deliver.”

READ MORE: Richmond Raceway Takes Unique Approach to Fan Engagement With Seven-Day Trip

On creating new inventory…

“My view is it’s a two-way street. There are times, like with the Chaos Corner, when we knew it was something we wanted to do, and then worked to find a partner or brand that aligned with that experience to help us bring it to life. There are other times, and you see this a lot with promotions, whereby in our discussions with a sponsor, and understanding their objectives, that we hit on something that we can build together from scratch.”

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

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Ticket Sales

SeatGeek and Cargo Bring Tickets to the Backseat

Thanks to a new partnership, passengers who find themselves in Cargo-equipped vehicles will have the chance to get exclusive pricing on tickets.

Adam White

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Image via Cargo

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

Next time you hop into an Uber or another ridesharing service, you might have the opportunity to load up on snacks, drinks, and even tickets to the biggest sporting event in town.

Thanks to a new partnership between SeatGeek and Cargo, passengers who find themselves in Cargo-equipped vehicles will have the chance to get exclusive pricing on tickets for concerts, sporting events, shows and other live events in the area in which they are traveling.

We caught up with Jeff Cripe, Founder & CEO for Cargo and Lee Moulton, Director of Partnerships for SeatGeek, to see how the deal came together and what it means for both parties.

On being more than a ticketing platform…
Moulton: “At our core, SeatGeek is obsessed with leveraging technology to make the experience of discovering and attending live events seamless and enjoyable. Enabling ticket discovery and commerce in relevant contexts such as during an Uber ride is just another way we are applying technology to serve consumers. Consumers are demanding that the apps and platforms they use are dynamic and adaptable. Our partnership with Cargo is a great example of contextual commerce at its best.”

On integrating teams…
Moulton: “We are currently working with various teams and sponsors to create special in-car offers for consumers. This will include offering last minute deals on tickets, being able to get complimentary rides to games and much more. Stay tuned!”

From chips and crackers to tickets…
Cripe: “Riders’ default behavior in rideshare vehicles is to shop, browse the internet, listen to music, and play games. Cargo’s long term ambition is to support all of that digital behavior, and we are thrilled to kick off our digital product marketplace with SeatGeek, whose data shows that ticket-buyers match up with Cargo’s core demo and are often traveling, via rideshare, within active Cargo cities.”

On brand integrations and custom offerings…
Moulton: “The possibilities are endless. You can imagine that buying a RedBull in the Cargo app could unlock a promo code to get discounted tickets to your next event. You can also imagine a rewards program where buying a certain number of products from Cargo can be used to redeem a ticket.”

Cripe: “Our brand partners have already reached out to sponsor ticket giveaways to riders and drivers, append physical product samples to relevant ticket offerings, and more. Success for us is creating a compelling ecosystem inside of the vehicle that generates value for our four key constituents: drivers, riders, rideshare companies, and brands. Blending the physical and digital products we offer will be a big part of that.”

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

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Ticket Sales

How Teams Are Using Technology to Increase Ticket Sales

Companies like the Aspire Group and Semcasting provide teams with in-depth information, which has helped organizations increase ticket sales.

Bailey Knecht

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Beyond wins and losses, sports organizations have lofty goals, particularly when it comes to ticket sales. Teams are constantly working to build a loyal fan base and increase attendance, so to address this challenge, many have begun outsourcing to tech companies that help them expand their reach.

One of those teams is the Dallas Mavericks, who work with Semcasting, a data-as-a-service company that creates predictive models for potential customers.

“We are a compiler of databases,” explained Geetha Neelakantiah, vice president of business development and partnerships for Semcasting. “Some is public information we’re pulling in, some is survey information, some is a variety of governmental agencies that make the data public. What we do is we add our smarts because we have the tools to create inferences based on income and other data elements.”

Those inferences help develop a 360-degree view of the customers to analyze the best way to market to them.

Semcasting builds profiles by taking into consideration fans’ income, home values, interests and distance to the arena. The company also addresses Customer Trade Areas using Mobile Footprints, by mapping smartphone signals and identifying patterns and “hot spots” in the fan base.

SEE MORE: How Teams Can Use Social Video Franchises to Tell Unique Stories 

“Knowing who’s attending an event or game or retail location and finding them and identifying who they are, marketers are able to provide better programming to them so next time they come, it could be catered to those coming to the event so it’s more customized,” said Neelakantiah.

The Aspire Group is another organization that works with teams to optimize ticket sales and fan experience. According to Bill Fagan, chief operating officer for the Aspire Group, the main goal in ticket marketing is to retain fans.

“If we’re losing existing fans, ticket holders or donors or whoever, then we’re never going to grow,” Fagan said. “It’s very challenging to acquire new fans. Analytics indicate that if you’re not retaining at least 85 percent of your fans, you won’t get back to your previous year’s total.”

Finding and retaining fans is particularly important for teams that may be struggling to earn wins, Fagan said.

“Hope is not a strategy, and winning is not a strategy,” he said. “You can’t just hope that team is going to turn it around. You have to work twice as hard to retain people and make sure you don’t lose them. There’s nothing more important than taking care of the people that are attending.”

In order to preserve those existing fans, as well as identify potential new fans, the Aspire Group uses a variety of tactics, ranging from conducting surveys to utilizing data aggregation technologies.

That technology is what allows organizations to draw conclusions based on existing information.

“What marketers are attempting to find is lookalikes,” Fagan said. “They say, ‘Here’s what our average fan looks like in their demographic and behaviors. Let’s find other people that behave in similar ways.’”

“Knowing that information — how often a person purchased with their demographic — helps identify other individuals,” Neelakantiah added. “It does give us more information about how a sports team is able to develop different marketing programs and increase sales on different segments.”

LISTEN: Rob Perez’s Journey From Ticketing Entrepreneur to NBA Personality 

In order for the team to deliver customized advertising to specific audiences, organizations like Semcasting aim to access the “unknown fan” — someone who has attended a game or visited the team website, but isn’t a regular buyer — an ideal customer for the team to zero in on. Once data is used to nail down the demographics of the “unknown fans,” advertising can be specially targeted to fit their needs and hopefully turn them into regulars.

According to a testimonial from Veronica Cantu, director of sales marketing with the Mavericks, the partnership with Semcasting has been beneficial.

“Thanks to Semcasting, we now have a deeper understanding of our fan base and clearer solutions on how to customize and optimize our engagement with them,” she said. “When our fans buy single tickets, season tickets or simply visit our website, Semcasting has helped us discern who those unknown fans are and where they spend their time, both online and offline.”

With the help of Semcasting, the Mavericks saw a 380 percent return on investment, based on a $25.30 cost per acquisition.

Looking ahead, Semcasting hopes to tie it all together by identifying the most effective forms of marketing, using attribution to connect sales back to the relevant marketing channel.

In a broader sense, the next step for data analysis companies is making fan identification resources more universally affordable and available, particularly for smaller market organizations with less manpower, according to Fagan.

“The challenge for entertainment properties is getting the right ROI,” he said. “Unfortunately, the resources might not be available to invest in the technologies, so there is an increased demand for third party, technologically-based affordable solutions… That’s where we put our heads, which is servicing the entire world of live event ticketing and understanding that an empty seat is a cancer to the brand.”

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