The King of Beers: From the Footiebusiness Vault

FIFABudweiser is a huge player in sports and sports advertising.  With the World Cup on the near horizon, we thought we would run an interview from June with  Camilo Durana, Budweiser’s Global Director, Budweiser Sports and Entertainment was kind enough to share a few thoughts about the current Man of the Match Program and Budweiser’s promotional efforts around the world of soccer.  Prior to joining Budweiser, Mr. Durana worked for both MLS and Octagon.

Footiebusiness.com: Budweiser is running its Man of the Match Program for the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup in 2013.  What efforts will be made during matches to make fans aware of the voting options?

Camilo Durana:  During every game, Budweiser is encouraging fans around the world to vote for their Man of the Match picks through social media. Our partner FIFA is also encouraging fans to vote through its social channels.  We are also communicating with fans in the tournament venues and during match broadcasts in select markets

FB: Is the Man of the Match Program being promoted only on domestic broadcasts or also internationally?

CD: Fans from around the world can vote for their pick for the Budweiser Man of the Match during each game and we encourage fans supporting every team to cast their votes on one of the several open voting platforms during each game – from budweisermanofthematch.com to Facebook and our new iOS and Android apps. We’re currently offering voting in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

FB: Does Budweiser have plans to extend the Man of the Match Program to other soccer properties including MLS?

CD: In addition to the Budweiser Man of the Match award being presented at each game of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup™ and the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, fan voting also helps determine the Budweiser Man of the Match in the FA Cup, the oldest association football competition in the world.  We are currently focused on these tournaments, but we are always exploring other opportunities to enhance the fan experience through the Man of the Match program.

FB: Why are the Confederations Cup and World Cup attractive properties for Budweiser Sports and Entertainment?

CD: Football and sports in general are key global celebration moments and the FIFA World Cup™ and FIFA Confederations Cup™ offer a strong and relevant global platform from which we can connect with passionate football fans around the world. We’re looking forward to the opportunities presented as the tournaments bring the excitement of the beautiful game to new places around the world, and to enhance the fan experience in the more than 85 countries around the world where Budweiser is served.

FB: Finally, with the World Cup only a year away, what does Budweiser anticipate doing to activate around the tournament?

CD: As an official partner of the FIFA Confederations Cup™, Budweiser is taking this opportunity to connect with passionate football fans around the world during the tournament.  We’re proud to take this opportunity to unveil our new Man of the Match programming, including the enhanced voting platforms during this year’s tournament, and we’ll look forward to making the experience even better as the eyes of the world turn once again to Brazil during next year’s FIFA World Cup™.  Beyond continuing our Man of the Match program, we are finalizing additional plans for next year’s FIFA World Cup™ but we know that expanding our voting to even more fans for Man of the Match will be a critical component, given the passion fans have displayed for making their voices heard.

 

Soccer Business Bits: New York Stadium, Miami Stadium & More

cityNYCFC was in the news on Wednesday for multiple reasons, including the introduction of Jason Kreis as the new coach of the expansion franchise.  However, the big news was the announcement that the team is moving towards a stadium deal in the Bronx.  The reported $400 million structure will reportedly seat 28,000 fans and will occupy a vacant lot near the  Major Degan Expressway near Yankee Stadium.  Per the Gothamist.com, “the stadium would still be constructed using private funds (as has been the plan since the beginning), new details about public sweeteners have emerged. The team would be given a 99-year lease, where fair market rent would only start to be paid 38 years into the lease. City-backed tax exempt bonds would help to finance the project, and other tax breaks could be given.”  The team is looking for approval from incoming Mayor DiBlasio and would be set to open in 2018 or 2019.

In other expansion news, there were multiple reports on Wednesday that David Beckham’s effort to locate a team in downtown Miami are taking a step forward.  Per the Miami Herald,” [a] Miami-Dade County Commission vote scheduled for Tuesday would authorize Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s administration to identify possible stadium sites and negotiate construction contracts with any interested private developers. That would begin talks in earnest between the county and Beckham and his investors, who have approached Gimenez about building a 25,000-seat stadium on public land on PortMiami’s Dodge Island.”

Finally, overnight ratings for MLS Cup Final are in and the English language numbers were disappointing, with the game generating a .5 overnight.  Perhaps more interestingly, the Spanish language broadcast attracted more viewers than the English language telecast on ESPN.  The .5 represents a downward move from the last few years and is a very difficult number for the league to carry into the next round of negotiations.

 

 

MLS Cup: The Secondary Market

timbers ticketsIt is no secret that attendance in Major League Soccer has been outstanding over the last few years.  Smaller stadiums have meant packed houses, great environments and increased buzz.  Yet MLS fans are rarely forced to the secondary market to find tickets.  Between promotions, giveaways and a comparably limited group of fans, those wishing to attend a match can typically find a ticket, even at the last minute, and often at little to no cost.

Yet the MLS Cup Final (and this has become increasingly true), offered a chance for the secondary market to play a prominent role in providing opportunities for fans to attend the game.  Between the significant amount of season ticket holders in Kansas City, the pre-sales offered to certain interest groups and the relatively small size of the stadium, the secondary market was primed to pray a prominent role.

At various time, about 5% of the ticket inventory was available on StubHub.  Many of the tickets were selling at significant mark-ups.  Many tickets were listed for at least double their face value and some were listed for significantly more.  As the day of the game approached, ticket sales slacked off leading sellers to drop the price in hopes of ensuring a sale.  However, even on Friday afternoon, tickets were selling for more than face value as bargain hunters were forced to make a choice at the last minute.

Ultimately, a healthy secondary market is a great sign for the league.  Ticket scarcity makes an even seem more important and provides the most devoted fans with an opportunity to profit from their fandom. When fans can walk-up to the gate on gameday and purchase tickets at face value, it provides fans with little incentive to buy in advance.  Those advance sales allow a team to plan and ensure that bad weather doesn’t significantly depress attendance or ticket sales.

Monday After (Cup Final Edition)

mlsSaturday night saw a thrilling end to the 2013 MLS season, with Sporting topping RSL after 10 rounds of penalties.  After a first half punctuated by injuries, stoppages and poor play, the teams turned in a riveting final 45 minutes, overtime and spot kicks.  A standing room only sellout at Sporting Park provided the backdrop to the Final, and the fans stayed through to the end to create a raucous environment that came through clear on the television.

ESPN provided its usual quality coverage, both from the on-site studio and the broadcast booth.   It is especially worth noting how much Taylor Twellman continues to improve as a color analyst. The halftime featured the usual interview with the Commissioner and the night ended with KC’s love affair with in stadium pyrotechnics.  Some other broadcast notes: SiriusXM provided a simulcast of the ESPN700 feed from Salt Lake City over satellite.  After some initial technical glitches, the broadcast was clear, although there were some problems trying to get the MLS pregame via the SiriusXM service.  Also, the KC Star and Salt Lake City Tribune are to be commended for their thorough coverage of the Final. Both papers treated the event like the big time sports event it was.

Some other business notes from the weekend.  The extra long pks and overtime cut into the typical post game proceedings on ESPN, but kudos to the network for staying with the game long enough to show the trophy presentation.  It will be interesting to see how the long telecast will impact viewers for the Final which have been dropping over the last few years despite the presence of David Beckham and Landon Donovan.  The game was certainly another advertisement for the new model of hosting the game at the stadium of the team with the highest record; the environment was great and the scene was befitting a Final.

 

And the Winner is?????

ivyCongratulations to…..Sporting Kansas City, the 2013 Footiebusiness Front Office Award winner.  For the 2nd time in three years, Sporting takes home the award.  This time, KC earned just over 47% of the vote, with Chicago earning second place and Portland third.  Thank you to all who participated and cast votes.

Sporting played host to the 2013 All-Star Game and did a wonderful job converting downtown Kansas City into a home for fans, journalists, players and more.   The team continues to manage its social media presence, ensuring that fans and media were kept apprised of important developments all season long.   As has long been the case, the team’s leadership is active on Twitter, providing access to fans unmatched by most teams.  The team continues its fantastic attendance own attendance mark, and has become a fixture in the Kansas City sports scene.  They have locked down a great primary sponsorship relationship, built a great stadium and have become the true success story among first generation franchises moving towards the league’s third decade.

Sporting is now gearing up to host the 2013 Final and early reports suggest that the team is equally devoted to ensuring as great an experience as they delivered for the All-Star Game in July.

Congratulations Sporting Kansas City.

Thoughts on the State of the League

mlsBefore we get to the meat of tonight’s post, please remember to cast your vote for Front Office of the Year.  Voting closes tomorrow at 8.

On Tuesday Commissioner Garber gave his annual State of the League Address.  As usual the talk included some prepared remarks followed by questions from both journalists and fans.  Not surprisingly, much of the discussion centered on expansion with the Commissioner making specific references to a number of potential expansion targets.  The Commissioner suggested that Atlanta and Miami are both on the near term radar screen (although he acknowledged the challenges surrounding success in Miami).  He also pointed to Texas, St. Louis and other locations for the 24th and final? MLS franchise.

Not surprisingly, the Commissioner addressed the League’s struggles with television ratings.  Interestingly, he took the opportunity to “call out” television partners for failing to provide MLS with scheduling priority and promotion.  He mentioned the “Game of the Week” concept and referenced the promotion provided by NBC for its Premier League properties.

Garber also mentioned that there is $20 million in annual spending on youth programs and that MLS is looking for support from college soccer to help develop players.  He also discussed flexible scheduling and the possibility of moving to a Winter schedule.

Overall, there were few surprises in his talk.  He did mention that MLS is still losing money, perhaps with an eye towards upcoming CBA negotiations.  Right now, the focus is expansion, television ratings and a broadcast deal.

For a recording of his talk, click here.

 

Footiebusiness Front Office Vote

sporting kansas citTime for the Vote!  We have laid out the case for our three finalists; they are Chicago, Portland and Kansas City.   To read the summaries of each nominee, click here.  The voting criteria are here:  It is award season in MLS,  and the league used to offer a front office award.  The award is no more, but we have picked up the mantle.   In past years, the Award was defined this way:  “Department recognized for consistent, accurate and proactive efforts in providing media members with information and generating coverage for its team.”  However, because this is now a Footiebusiness Award, we think recognition for marketing and promotional efforts should also be included. For purposes of this award, the “2013 year” started when voting closed last October.

chicago-fireTimbers Billboard

The Nominees Part II

ivyNormally, this would be the day for the most recent Monday After Post, but the league taking its break until the Final on Saturday, we thought it was time for our third and final entry in our own award season.  It is award season in MLS, and it is time to start looking at the candidates for the Footiebusiness Front Office Award. In past years, the Award was defined this way:  “Department recognized for consistent, accurate and proactive efforts in providing media members with information and generating coverage for its team.”  However, because this is now a Footiebusiness Award, we think recognition for marketing and promotional efforts should also be included. For purposes of this award, the “2013 year” started when voting closed last October.

Tonight we will present the last 2013 nominee.  For discussion of the first two nominees (Portland & Chicago), click here.  Our third  nominee is Sporting Kansas City.  The team played host to the 2013 All-Star Game and did a wonderful job converting downtown Kansas City into a home for fans, journalists, players and more.   The team continues to manage its social media presence, ensuring that fans and media were kept apprised of important developments all season long.   As has long been the case, the team’s leadership is active on Twitter, providing access to fans unmatched by most teams.  The team continues its fantastic attendance own attendance mark, and has become a fixture in the Kansas City sports scene.

That is it.  Portland, Chicago and Kansas City, our three nominees for 2013.  Voting will go forward this week and we will announce the winner before the week is out.