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Super Bowl's Meadowlands location draws Wall Street money 

John Brennan October 21, 2013


Every year, no matter where the Super Bowl is played, the high-ranking and well-paid executives of the financial-services industry are a prominent presence among those attending the NFL’s championship game.


But this year, with the big game taking place just miles from Wall Street, it is the big companies employing the executives that will be dominant.


Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and other financially focused companies make up nearly half of the 29 businesses named “host sponsors” for the Feb. 2 game at MetLife Stadium — each having paid a reported $1 million-plus to achieve that status.


Two decisions by the National Football League created this feeding frenzy: First, the league chose to hold the 2014 Super Bowl right across the river from Manhattan. Then it allowed more than one representative of the industry to be a host sponsor.


That has gone a long way toward footing the $60 million bill that officials estimate it will cost for the weeklong festivities surrounding the game being played in East Rutherford for the first time — about twice as much as was raised by host committees in Dallas in 2011 and Indianapolis in 2012.


Al Kelly, the chief executive of the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee, told an audience of executives at a recent sports-marketing symposium in New York that the NFL “did a smart thing” in not limiting financial-services companies among the host sponsors — whereas Bud Light is the only beer host sponsor, and Hertz is the only rental car host sponsor.


Even when the game is not played in its back yard, the financial-services industry plays an outsize role in the market for sports tickets, especially in prime seating like luxury boxes.


Tony Knopp — co-founder of Spotlight TMS, a California-based company that helps Fortune 500 and other businesses analyze the effectiveness of their ticket and suite purchases — said banking and other financially oriented companies buy about one-fourth of the sports tickets in the United States.


Steve Rosner, a co-founder of the 16W Marketing sports company in Rutherford, said the financial sector was among those that retrenched on such high-end spending as corporate sponsorships and luxury-suite purchases after the worldwide economic collapse of 2008.

“But that’s coming back now on the Wall Street side, where there are more assets and more dollars available. Then throw in that it’s the Super Bowl and it’s here, and it’s no wonder this is happening,” said Rosner, who has attended 23 Super Bowls. “I give the host committee credit for going right to their strengths and letting everyone know that it’s not exclusive, but here’s a chance to get in the game.”


Knopp said the NFL has been aware that each Super Bowl locale has its own business niche.

“If the game is in Houston, you’re going to see a lot of companies related to gas production, and when it’s in the Los Angeles area, there’s a lot of entertainment money, and there will be a lot of tech when the game comes to San Francisco” in 2016, Knopp said. “Giving a waiver to the local industry of choice makes sense.”


Beyond that, some New York-based chief executives who normally leave it to subordinates to fly to the Super Bowl for a long weekend are now saying that they want to be at this game as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Frank Vuono, the other 16W Marketing founder and a veteran of 28 Super Bowls.


“First of all, we’re all basically kids at heart,” Vuono said. “Plus financial services — as in all business, really — are driven by relationships, and there’s nothing like attending a Super Bowl.”

None of the Super Bowl host sponsors contacted by The Record offered a comment on the reasons for becoming a host sponsor. That was “not surprising” to Knopp, who said the nearly two dozen banks his company counts as clients don’t usually comment publicly on such matters.

In addition to the Super Bowl game-day suite, the NFL’s chief corporate sponsors get to associate their brands with the NFL’s big game. In addition, host sponsors gain access to a host of events, such as the annual golf outing and The Taste of the NFL, a food connoisseur’s delight, Knopp said.


Host sponsorship also allows executives to be recognized by executives from other industries at a variety of events in the week prior to the Super Bowl, Knopp said.


“You’re named in all sorts of marketing materials, and you have an opportunity to spend a lot of time aligning yourself with that NFL shield” — the league’s logo, Knopp said. “There’s a certain tribalism to playing a big role at an event like this, and our research shows that the returns on investment in many cases is very significant.”


That may be why most of the host sponsors wasted little time getting involved: Kelly was named to his post in the spring of 2011, and by the end of that summer most of those companies already were announced as Super partners.


Kelly said the committee has signed up 106 sponsors overall, and that the premium host sponsor level is “almost sold out”; Kelly said the committee is strategically holding onto “a couple” of the luxury suites that come with the sponsor designation.


“We’re waiting for people to come to us with some ideas and thoughts — and big pocketbooks,” said Kelly, the former CEO of American Express. “If someone comes along that can offset a big remaining expense, I’ve got a potential asset [the suite] to help sweeten the deal. We have to hold a pregame party for 3,000 people. That’s going to cost us a lot of money, and we don’t have a sponsor for that yet, as an example.”


Unlike most Super Bowl host committees, Kelly’s group is not receiving a government subsidy. He said that the committee has already raised “in the neighborhood” of the $60 million the non-profit needs to break even. That’s well beyond the money raised by the group’s counterparts for the last three Super Bowls


As Sports Business Journal editor Terry Lefton, who moderated the symposium panel, said, “That’s a nice neighborhood to be in.”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Ron Darling Joins MLB Network as Offseason Studio Analyst

Associated Press October 31, 2013

Secaucus, N.J., October 31, 2013 - MLB Network today announced that World Series champion and award-winning baseball TV announcer Ron Darling has joined its roster of on-air talent as an offseason analyst. Darling will appear across MLB Network's offseason studio programming, which begins Monday, November 4, and make his MLB Network debut live on MLB Tonight on November 4 at 6:00 p.m. ET.


Since beginning his broadcasting career in 2000, Darling has won two Emmy Awards for Best Sports Analyst for his work covering the Mets on SportsNet New York (SNY), and he works as a game analyst for Turner Sports' MLB regular season and Postseason coverage. Over his 13-year pitching career, Darling collected 136 wins with a 3.87 ERA. He was named a National League All-Star in 1985 and won the World Series with the New York Mets the following year. Darling also won 17 games for the 1988 NL East champion Mets and was the first Mets pitcher to be awarded the Gold Glove Award in 1989. Darling began his MLB career with the Mets (1983-1991) and also spent time with the Montreal Expos (1991) and Oakland Athletics (1991-1995).


"Ron's experience from his career on the field and his work on local and national baseball broadcasts give him a unique perspective that will be a great addition to our offseason programming," said MLB Network President and CEO Tony Petitti.


Taking an in-depth look at the offseason's news on free agents and managerial candidates, MLB Network will launch a one-hour weekly studio show called Inside MLB featuring MLB Network insiders Peter Gammons, Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, Joel Sherman and Tom Verducci, hosted by Greg Amsinger and Paul Severino. Inside MLB premieres on Monday, November 11 at 10:00 p.m. ET following the announcement of the 2013 Rookie of the Year Award winners by the Baseball Writers' Association of America live on MLB Network at 6:00 p.m.


ET.Starting Monday, MLB Network's offseason lineup will feature Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds returning to host Hot Stove, the only television morning show dedicated to baseball, along with Chris Rose and Kevin Millar hosting Intentional Talk  and the return of Clubhouse Confidential, hosted by Brian Kenny, airing weekdays. MLB Network's signature studio show MLB Tonight will continue to provide the latest news and interviews around the league throughout the offseason. 

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