“While Others Are Content to Imitate, We’ll Continue To Innovate”
I ran across a Lexus commercial this weekend featuring the above quote – I couldn’t help but be inspired. At the 2009 Baseball Winter Meetings Trade Show Modular Products & Pendulum Studio unveiled the second generation of our Loge Box/Outdoor Suite and drink rails as a follow-up to our 2008 installation in Modern Woodmen Park. At the time, we were actively pitching Alan Stien, owner of the Omaha Storm Chasers and Martie Cordero – General Manager of the team. Alan and Martie were nice enough to stop by the booth and take a look at our products, in fact they liked it enough that they asked if we minded them bringing their “architect” that was designing their new ballpark, Werner Park (pictured above) by our booth to take a look. The “architect” was visibly annoyed with being asked to stop by…he kinda had that “I can do that” look, but from the looks of the pictures of their drink rail in the outfield, he definitely took a few notes.
In all fairness, we’ve consistently stated in presentations, panel discussions, and in our printed materials that what we’re doing is not rocket science. Other architects have found success in implementing similar concepts in sports facilities for quite some time – especially in arenas. The difference with our solutions is simple – they are “turn-key”, consistent quality, price, and delivery method – coast to coast.
Even more importantly, the biggest differentiator between our solutions and others, when taking into consideration economic sustainability, is the fact that we integrate branding and sponsorship in everything we do; this is the game changer. The ability to offset upfront cost with sponsor dollars facilitates rapid return on investment for our clients – in most cases within the first two seasons. A good example of this is our solution for Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, IA. This year the Quad Cities River Bandits sold exclusive sponsorship to Pepsi that in turn delivers dominate branding on the aluminum surrounds that wrap each Loge Box. In our opinion this is where the drink rails at Werner Park missed the mark – no visible sponsorship.
By The Numbers
Hypothetically speaking let’s say your ballpark has a capacity of 6,000 and you average 3,000 paid per season with a total per cap of $16.25. Let’s break that down further:
- Ticket Sales: $5.50
- Merchandise: $1.25
- Food & Beverage: $7.50
- Sponsorship: $2.00
We recognize that most teams don’t run their own concessions and merchandise, so our goal is to focus primarily on the potential revenue streams that teams do control = tickets and sponsorship. We’ve also chosen to ignore surplus inventory because our goal is to maximize revenue potential within immediate reach, we’ll leave increased ticket sales strategy to the team – it will vary in every market. Within the 3,000 tickets (on average) that are already sold at $5.50 per cap, we will remove 100 low yield seats (i.e. bench seating) and replace them with 60 semi-premium seats at a higher per cap (each loge box accommodates 15 ticketed patrons).
Assuming tickets in the loge box are priced at $8.00 a head (in lieu of the previous $5.50), there’s a guarantee on food & beverage ($18 per ticket), and sponsorship is sold at $5,000 per box (based on four boxes), the team stands to yield a capital increase of approximately $60,000 annually – that’s a 1% bump and the only thing that’s been changed is minor diversification of existing inventory. The key take-away here is “little things make a big difference” (Malcolm Gladwell).
Let’s face the facts, the traditional baseball business model has changed from its early roots and continues to evolve as business savvy ownership groups contend with the ongoing economic downturn. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a lot of discernible change in the work of mainstream sports architects since 1991, partially due to a self-serving focus on designing the next monument, and partially because most owners are risk averse, they want what they know rather than focussing on the potential for changing the game. Don’t get me wrong, Camden Yards is cool but it’s a very contextual solution, it won’t work everywhere nor do teams have the financial wherewithal to invest the funds needed to get to that level of detail.
Our Modular Products embrace the kind of change that we are all confronted with…especially now; we’ve got to maximize existing infrastructure with modest long-term capital investment. As stated at the beginning of this post, we will continue to innovate…which also means that as the market evolves so will we - “design is change”.
Thanks to the good folks at The Sports Business Journal/Don Muret writing about our modular outdoor suites installed at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, IA (SBJ 2010) we were contacted by a NFL team with interest in building eight suites on the 50 yard line of the mid level concourse. The only catch…the suites needed to be 100% removable at the end of each football season – complete install and breakdown with a small crew in no more than three days.
In addition, the design challenge included addressing poor air circulation on the existing concourse, resolving component transport issues due to long distances to freight elevators, and planning for off-season storage. The animation above illustrates the preliminary concept that we shared with the team. We solved the transport issue by designing mobile carts for each disassembled suite. We improved air circulation on the concourse by specifying in-line fans mounted to the structure above. The off-season storage remained an issue through the remainder of our design discussions however, branded shipping containers were pretty high on our list of suggestions.
After finishing up the NFL suite concept we started thinking about smaller, less labor intensive and more affordable versions for alternate venues. With the Baseball All-Star break quickly approaching we couldn’t resist tossing around the idea of a six person suite equipped with flat screen TV, kegerator, buffet table and a generous amount of sponsorship and branding inventory on the front and rear panels of each box. The animation below illustrates our preliminary design – easily installed in one day by a small crew.
From the office to the ballpark…”Temporary Suites” may be coming to a town near you.
When we first moved into our office a little over three years ago, we were full of ideas about what we were going to do with the space but at the time it was just an empty box (pictured above). We had very few belongings…two desks, banker boxes, a couple chairs, and a broom; standard fare for a young startup.
Fast forward three years – some things are the same…we still have the broom, but a lot has changed. We’ve collected a few new pieces of furniture and equipment along the way but even better, we’ve had some of our modular designs featured in a few nice built projects (i.e. Modern Woodmen Park Outdoor Suites – 2008, BB&T Ballpark Premium Club Drink Rails – 2009, Swope Health South Reception Desks – 2010). In 2009 we had one of our suites fabricated for our office (pictured below) and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed showcasing it in the front lobby but it’s time for a change. We’ll be packing it up and letting a few of our College Wood Bat League friends try it out at their ballparks this season as a part of our “2011 Temporary Suite Promotional Tour”. The pictures below illustrate how we’ve got it arranged in the office now, our next post will provide more detail on ballpark tour dates and locations.
At the 2010 Baseball Winter Meetings our theme was “Watch Us Design”. We decided to bring one of our work stations to the booth with ballpark designer Keith Crane at the helm. We contacted a few of our friends within the baseball industry in advance and challenged them to bring us an idea for expansion to their ballparks no matter how big or small. Kurt Landes, GM of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs answered our call and said – “O.K. let’s see what you’ve got”.
The Iron Pigs had an idea for a tiki bar expansion above the existing left field bull pens, a rough hand sketch (pictured above), and a few photoshopped marketing images. Our plan was to use our time at the Winter Meetings wisely and expose attendees to our work flow and design methodology. Everything that Keith input in the workstation was on display on our large LCD screens for everyone to see, and as anticipated we were successful at drawing a few crowds. The value added to the Iron Pigs was the ability to bring staff to our booth and have open dialogue about their likes and dislikes as it relates to the general design content. This lively dialogue yielded a few changes here and there, but as I always say…”Design Is Change”. In the end I think everyone benefited from the process – the images below are the final released work product to the Iron Pigs.