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Archive for March, 2012

 

Mar 14 2012

Headed Home

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By J.C. Poma

Sunday, March 11, 2012

As I sit here on our flight back to Washington D.C., I keep thinking back to the words that Professor Lynn spoke in our closing dinner toast, “No other sports management program in the country does what you guys just did.” Well, now that I have had a little bit of time to look back on our last 8 days in the great city of London, I could not agree more. Coming into this trip, some of my fellow classmates had a much a better understanding of the international sports landscape than others. But, after meeting with some of the most respected people in the industry from some of the most reputable organizations around the world, we are all CEO’s in one of the most important subjects in the sports industry, the globalization of sports.  If you  are reading my post because it is one of the last posts and therefore at the top of the blog, I highly encourage you to keep going at the end of my entry and see what my classmates thought of each meeting we had and each event we attended. We were each given a specific meeting/event to cover, and in being assigned the recap I hope to get across just how much this week has meant to all of us and how lucky we are that the SIM Program provided us with this unprecedented opportunity.

One of the best things about this trip was that we were able to hear from the team side, the league side, the agency side, and the operations side of the sports industry in London. So, no matter what side of the industry we are looking at post-graduation, we were all able to take that side and compare the international model we learned about this week to the American model that we are becoming so familiar with in our classes.

The week started off with a bang when we all braved the pouring rain and saw Clint Dempsey and Fulham pound Wolverhampton 5-0. Our seats were unbelievable (thank you Stephanie!) and it was a great start to the week. On the way over to London, the hot subject was whether or not we thought an NBA or NFL team could call the city its home (it is still a hot subject).  It was unbelievable to hear both the NBA and NFL speak about the importance they place on this market and others and the challenges that they will have to overcome to land a team in London. Personally, I believe that the NFL is much closer and also much more feasible.

We were then treated to an awesome tour and meeting at O2 Arena as well as a tour of Emirates Stadium and a meeting with Tom Fox at Arsenal FC. It was amazing to hear his plans to expand and the importance they place on the Asian market, especially Malaysia. One of the highlights of the trip for all of us was the business tour we got at Wimbledon. Our guide was very informative and gave us a glimpse of the brand that Wimbledon tries to maintain year in and year out. We were also treated to two great meetings with two of the most renowned agencies in the world, IMG and Octagon. These two meetings were a great way for us to learn about some of the trends in football (soccer) and also how important it is for both organizations to diversify their business abroad.

Towards the end of the week, we heard from great speakers at two unbelievable international organizations, Beyond Sport and Sport Business International. Beyond Sport, for those of you who do not know, is a business that promotes how sports can be used for global social change and Sport Business International is the Sports Business Journal equivalent abroad. We closed out the week with a trip over to Olympic Park to see the British Swim Trials. The area was beautiful and it will be awesome to see all of those sights on NBC in July and August. Each speaker this week also spoke to us about the impact that the games will have on the city of London. While some are still skeptical about the exact impact that the games will have on the city because it is such a tourist city as it is, each and every one of them agree that the city will be a great host. We all could not agree more!

In closing, I speak for every SIM student on our trip in thanking Dean Winkler, Professor Lynn, Stephanie, and Laura for all of their efforts in putting this trip together. Once we all get over the jet lag and the lack of sleep we are going to get because our sales papers are due, we will be blessed with an unbelievable amount of knowledge about sports beyond the borders of the United States. Not only did we get to learn from some of the best, but also for many of us we got to meet each other outside of our busy lives at Georgetown. The sports industry is smaller than most people realize, and the friendships we built this week will not only be a great asset down the road but will last a lifetime!

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Mar 14 2012

The Home of Harry Potter

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By Alexis Cohen

Saturday, March 3, 2012

When I arrived in London I immediately called the hotel concierge to ask about a Harry Potter walking tour. Fortunately for myself and three other HP fans, there was a tour scheduled later that afternoon.

We met outside the Westminster tube station and spotted our tour guide sporting a striped burgundy and gold scarf. For the reasonable student rate of 6 pounds, we set off for two hours to walk the streets of London. We learned about inspirations that JK Rowling used in her books, as well as detailed information about where movie scenes were filmed. We not only learned more Harry Potter information than we had bargained for, but we also learned about London’s history and culture. And no trip to London would be complete without a quick picture at Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station.

So how does Harry Potter relate to sports? As an American, I went out of my way to experience the brand in a foreign country. JK Rowling isn’t the second richest female in the world by luck. She is an amazing storyteller that figured out how to extend a brand globally. Harry Potter can be experienced through multiple mediums including books, movies, walking tours, merchandise and amusement parks.

After meeting with multiple sports properties that discussed globalization, I feel Harry Potter is a successful model for transcending multiple cultures and maximizing global reach.

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Mar 14 2012

NFL UK

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By Nicholas Rust

Wednesday,  March 7, 2012

On a very rainy Wednesday afternoon, SIM London students and staff braved the elements and entered an office building via an entrance off an alleyway.   After requiring several trips on a lift to the 4th floor, the SIM group made their way through a rather small office and past several unopened mailboxes and encased autographed helmets to the large conference room, where sodas awaited us.  There, David Tossell, the Director of Public Affairs-Europe and 16-year NFL UK veteran, spoke of the NFL’s history in Europe before fielding a variety of enlightening questions from the SIM students.  Tossell’s thorough explanation of the NFL’s evolving European presence was quite riveting, and included several details that only a scant few, if any, in the audience could have known.

For example, the NFL has existed in Europe since as far back as 1982, when a brand new 4th channel (creatively named Channel 4) in England was looking for new and unique properties and stumbled into an unusual game in America interestingly named “football.”  The NFL was able to take advantage of the ongoing hooliganism problem plaguing English football at the time, riding the momentum of the popular 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl team (featuring the Super Bowl Shuffle and the Fridge) to launch the World League in 1991.  The 10-team association consisted of seven America teams and three European teams that aimed to capitalize on the hypothetical desire for football during the predominantly empty space of spring.  While the German teams in Frankfurt, Rhein, and Dusseldorf thrived, no broadcast deals were reached, and the NFL clubs’ interests shifted, no longer desiring to send players abroad in the offseason and incur losses of $20-$40 million as a result.  Nonetheless, overseas games still intrigued NFL owners, and London put in a long-shot bid to host the 2006 San Francisco 49ers-Arizona Cardinals contest that eventually was awarded to Mexico City.  The very next year, Wembley Stadium in London hosted a game between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, the first of five London games that has become an annual tradition.  London now hopes to make the St. Louis Rams into Britain’s team, inking a deal late in 2011 to make the Rams the host of three London games in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons.

After the history lesson, it was the students’ turn, and more information was extracted.  A few highlights include:

  • The Packers, due to their mass American popularity and easily recognizable “G” logo on the helmet, would be London’s ideal choice to play a series of London games.
  • The learning curve for Europeans in learning American football is very high, and is one of the most difficult challenges in marketing the sport in Europe.
  • 22% of London game attendees are female, yet women comprise 46-48% of the television audience for the same game, further complicating marketing strategies.
  • The hysteria regarding concussions and head trauma in the United States has not even remotely translated to the UK, as rugby fanatics continue to believe the NFL is “soft” with all the pads and protections players have.

Overall, the debut meeting between GU SIM and NFL UK was a tremendous success, and will surely be a relationship maintained for future London trips for the SIM program.

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Mar 09 2012

Beyond Sport

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our last meeting of the day was with Beyond Sport.  Nick Keller and Lex Chalat met with us to teach us about the importance of corporate social responsibility in the sports industry.  Beyond Sport was started in 2008 as a “global organization that promotes, develops and supports the use of sport to create positive social change across the world”.  The company is built on five pillars that form the foundation of their approach: share, promote, collide, grow and advise.  Beyond Sport have three different programs that carries out their mission- Beyond Sport Awards, Beyond Sport Global Events and Beyond Sport World.

Beyond Sport Awards is a global competition that facilitates support worth $2 million annually to projects that use sport to address issues within their communities.  In 2011, they received over 400 entries submitted from social enterprises, federations, corporations, professional sports teams and grassroots initiatives that reached more than 130 territories and countries.  The entries are then reviewed and cut down to 35 different awards that vary in subject from best new project, social inclusion, conflict resolution, education, health, environment, team of the year, corporation of the year and federation or governing body of the year.

Beyond Sports hosts numerous other global events, on being “Beyond Sport United” which was held in September 2011 at Yankee Stadium.  This event brought together more than 80 sports teams from around the world to discuss the role teams can play in their local communities.  Beyond Sport United was the first time all leagues were seen together – MLB, NBA, NFL, MLS, and WNBA.

One thing Nick stressed was the need for shared value in companies, which is a new development in CSR.  CSR removes profit in order to give back to their community, but shared value allows companies to drive profit as well.  Companies use CSR as a quick win, but shared value is often a long-term plan that is more effective.  Companies are now engaging in shared value in order to show profit in 5-10 years.

Reminding us about the value of profit, Beyond Sport explained how their business plan provides for a profitable model in order to sustain the companies objectives. By doing so, they will be able to continue to provide effective direction towards utilizing sport to provide social change into the next decade.

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Mar 09 2012

Arsenal & Emirates Stadium

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By Richard German

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On the fifth day (March 7th) in London, Georgetown SIM took a trip over to Islington to visit Emirates Stadium, the home of The Arsenal Football Club. The day began with a guided tour of the stadium itself. We visited the locker rooms, sat in the various seating sections, toured the owners and media rooms, and took in an amazing view of the field at pitch-level.

After a marvelous tour, we were privileged enough to meet with a leader in international sport, Tom Fox. Fox serves as Chief Commercial Officer for The Arsenal FC, and he has an extensive history, network and experience-base from his time with the NBA.

The main themes in London so far this week were further reinforced by Mr. Fox. The Arsenal is a top-five brand in world sport and, for Mr. Fox, it is his job to monetize that brand by identifying growth markets in the global arena.

The English Premiere League (EPL) is very different from the American sports-model for our main leagues in the U.S. One distinct difference is the “rich-benefactor” drive here in the U.K. In the U.S., sports franchises are seen as a way to make money; they are businesses first and sports second in the eyes of owners. This, coupled with the passion fans feel for their local clubs, is what really distinguishes the EPL from the American sports-model. After understanding this, you can really begin to understand the different approaches sports industry professionals must take when working in world football. Mr. Fox said that that is the reason he enjoys his time here. He is able to learn, while still using his American perspective to create fresh, new ideas to promote The Arsenal brand worldwide.

My major take-away from many of the meetings, and it was re-iterated in the meeting with Tom Fox, is that the growth markets in sport are really in Asia. Markets such as China and India are hotbeds for sport. The number of people, the passion for sport, and the strong economies are all reasons sports brands are rushing to have stake in the Asian markets. That’s the future, and it will be interesting to see how leagues and teams establish a real presence in those growth markets.

———

On our fifth day in London, the rainiest day yet, we started the morning off with a tour of Arsenal FC’s match facility, Emirates Stadium. An extraordinary facility, the stadium follows the legendary Highbury playing grounds and provides 60,432 seats, over 20,000 more than its predecessor.  The facility is so large that if all the seats were removed, it could facilitate 187,000 spectators with standing room.  As this stadium is an all-seater, however, it does not currently provide any standing room.

The naming rights deal was with Emirates Airlines, who are also the club’s jersey sponsors, and the deal was worth over 90 million pounds. Since the move from Highbury, the stadium has been profitable both on the field and off – there have been only 13 defeats out of the 150 home games played, and the club  makes more money from Level 2 seating alone than they did in a sellout at Highbury.  On Level 1, there is box seating available, but they are only leased to blue chip clients. A 15-seat box on the midline will run a group 150,000 pounds!

With the prestine interior, the players have quite a place to call home on gamedays (a separate facility is used as the training grounds). The home locker room provides each player with a dressing stall, with captains at the forefront of the room. With a feng shui setup that emphasizes British sophistication, the home dressing room is equipped with a tactics board, a meeting table and provides “calm lighting” – one of the many intangibles that are significant to Emirate’s Stadium.

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Mar 09 2012

The Business of Wimbledon

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By Mike D’Ambrosio

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

History and tradition, grass courts and white clothing, strawberries and cream, and legendary champions winning on Centre Court.  These are just a few of the many things commonly associated with Wimbledon that the SIM London program discovered when we set foot inside the gates of the All England Lawn Tennis Club for our “Business Tour” of Wimbledon.  While many us have seen Wimbledon on television, the opportunity to walk the grounds of the tennis club and hear about the business side of the event provided us a new perspective on the magnitude and prestige of the tournament.  Ben, our equally knowledgeable and entertaining guide, began our tour with a discussion of the different elements of Wimbledon that make the tournament one of the most recognizable sporting events in the world, as well as a financial success.

According to Ben, the tournament’s conservative business model generates approximately 70% of its revenue from television deals (network, mobile, internet, radio), ticket sales, and “official supplier” sponsorship deals.  The tournament’s unique ticketing models include a debenture option – new dentures are only offered every five years – for those willing to invest between £20,000 to £50,000 for a financial share in the tournament and a ticket, and a ticket ballot (lottery) for general admission.  The models are used to control the number of attendees for the event and to ensure that attendees are true tennis fans interested in the actual play of the tournament. With no electronic ticketing options, the only way to enter the ticket ballot each year is to send a letter directly to the All England Club. 

Sponsorships are limited to “official suppliers” of the tournament such as Rolex, but no presenting or title sponsor. Wimbledon will likely never have a presenting or title sponsor because the revenue generated isn’t worth the cost to the tournament of losing the purity and prestige of the Wimbledon brand. Equally prestigious is the membership of the All England Club, which is so exclusive that winning the tournament is apparently the easiest way to join.

Our walking tour took us to key sites around the Wimbledon grounds. We sat in the 11,500 seat No. 1 Court stadium and heard about the tournament’s ongoing facilities reinvestment efforts, stood at the foot of the show court where John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played their epic 183 game match in 2010, and visited the Wimbledon press room where we learned about the tournament’s press policies and posed for photographs on the podium.

The tour concluded with a few minutes inside the iconic Centre Court stadium.  We saw the retractable roof installed over the court in 2009 and the Royal Box, where members of the British Royal Family, including the Queen, sometimes sit to watch the tennis and entertain guests during the tournament.  I’m sure many of us sat in the stands imagining what it would be like to watch Wimbledon legends like Bjorn Borg, Billy Jean King, Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Roger Federer, and Steffi Graf play a championship match.  A last stop in the Wimbledon museum and gift shop capped off one of the best visits we’ve had so far during our time in London.

Hanging in the Wimbledon museum is the original version of an inscription players still see just before entering Centre Court for a match, featuring a line from the poem If— by English poet Rudyard Kipling:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.”

That’s a pretty good piece of advice before a Grand Slam final and, along with the rest of our London experience, something many of us will take back to our classes, careers, and lives moving forward.

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Mar 07 2012

SIM Tours O2 Arena with AEG

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By Alex Berberian

Monday, March 5, 2012

Raj Saha, Director of AEG facilities, welcomed our SIM student group at Entertainment Avenue located inside the doom of the O2 arena.  Entertainment Avenue features a wide variety of restaurants, bars and leisure sightings for all guests to enjoy and increase their fan experience.  Saha first discussed O2’s latest developments including nearby condominiums, a hotel, and the largest ballroom in London which will increase the facility’s features.  He also noted the arena’s select 13 sponsors including Visa, Nissan, and SKY which is a main television network provider.  Saha then led our group backstage to see the lower bowl of the 23,000 capacity venue.  AEG manages O2 Academies which provides up and coming artists such as Kings of Leon.  The O2 arena will also close for 3 months for the Olympics to host gymnastics and the 1st quarter finals for basketball.

The group was then led into a luxury club lounge where students addressed their questions to Saha.  For working in facilities, Saha recommended gaining as much experience in multiple areas including the ticket office, setting up events, athletics department, operations, and minor league teams.  Although facility operations is not a revenue generating department, it is a huge expense savings aspect of the business.  In addition, learning a second language is a strong quality to possess to communicate for events and working abroad.  Saha discussed a typical events day and the unexpected occurrences that arise.  The ability to address issues, adapt, and quickly problem-solve on site is a vital component of operations.  Overall, knowing your facility and implementing planning strategies for events will lead to successful operational processes within facilities.

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Mar 07 2012

NBA Europe

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By Surena Ebrahimi

Monday, March 5, 2012

On the first day of this trip’s week of meetings, we had the pleasure
of meeting with the top executives from NBA Europe. With strong
emphasis on the NBA’s mission of growing and celebrating the game of
basketball, in addition to demonstrating leadership in social
responsibility, the staff provided a thorough and interactive
presentation on the depth of their reach on an international scale,
grassroots development, and the value of digital media towards
furthering the objective of spreading the game worldwide.

Headquartered out of London, the NBA has 14 offices worldwide,
including China, Johannesburg, and Milan. The league boasts an
astounding 500 plus million fans across the world! In large part, this
is due to both the highest level of popularity the league has
experienced since the late 1980’s and the power squad the U.S.
assembled for Olympic play, rivaling the original “Dream Team” of the
1992 squad that included all-time greats like Magic Johnson, Larry
Bird, and Michael Jordan.


Most importantly, the league has established an initiative of growing
the game from a grassroots level, with encouraging results. Neil
Meyer, Director of Basketball Operations in the Middle East, and Kent
Christian,  who is in charge of events and marketing, have both lead
the way in growing the basketball brand across the international
spectrum with innovative techniques like working with soccer clubs in
Europe and Asia (dominant sports whose players and executives have
actively  supported the growth of basketball). In addition, they have created youth camps comprised of talented international players with
aspirations of making a splash in the league one day. With these
innovative methods, in conjunction with strategic partnerships with
the likes of Adidas, BBVA, American Express, and Nike amongst others,
the NBA and their European partners have been effectively developing
basketball as a brand globally.

After informing our group of 20 about the sports dominance in the
realm of social media, including 3.8 million + Twitter followers, 711
million + annual You Tube video streams, and a 511% NBA Facebook fan
increase since 2009, the execs engaged in a compelling and in depth
question/answer session with various members of our group asking a
variety of questions with issues ranging from cultural conflicts to to
league leadership’s future international agenda. Never shying away
from any questions, the staff’s responses were informative, direct,
and insightful.

The experience cannot be described as anything short of incredible,
from the initial awe of us all to the superstar memorabilia hanging on
the office walls, to the fantastic level of responsiveness of the
executives to our inquiries. NBA Europe truly represented the 100
+cities it partners with in spreading basketball, and provided my
fellow students and I  with a unique experience that will not be soon
forgotten.

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Mar 06 2012

Fulham FC & Craven Cottage

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By William Cooper

Sunday, March 4, 2012

One of our first organized activities in London was attending Sunday’s Barclays Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham FC.  Situated right on the Thames River, Fulham’s Craven Cottage  stadium provided the venue for the first soccer game abroad for many of our trips’ participants.  

Though we sat through cold and rainy conditions (we are in London, after all), the game provided several thrills for us #simlondoners: (a) seeing Fulham score no less than 5 goals, (b) seeing American star Clint Dempsey score 2 of those goals and (c) seeing ourselves on the highlights of the game due to our position just six rows behind the net.

We very much enjoyed the trip and the opportunity to see soccer played at its highest level.  It will be very interesting to compare the approx 25,000-seat “Cottage” with the NFL-style, 60,000-plus seat Emirates Stadium, which we will have the opportunity to explore on Wednesday.

—————————

By Chelsea Lyles

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I consider myself a football (real football, not American football as we’ve been gently reminded) newbie. I recently began playing for the Washington Area Women’s Soccer League (WAWSL) after a 15 year hiatus from the sport. I was in middle school then. I’ve been to one DC United game. That’s the extent of my knowledge. So when we went to watch the Fulham v. Wolverhampton game yesterday, there were a good many things I didn’t quite get (don’t worry, these are just a few).

1. They played on a grass field, which meant divots were replace by pitch forks at the half.

2. Craven Cottage (the Fulham stadium) was pretty old, so i had to ask where the scoreboard was. It was right above my head. In all fairness though, they only had the one.

3. The stadium wasn’t as loud as I was expecting, although there was a pretty solid chant section at the top of the end zone behind us. Perhaps because alcohol isn’t allowed inside the seating area of the arena?

4. One of my classmates managed to get a video of a Fulham goal.

5. The team store was not open during play.

 We got to experience typical London weather (glad I packed my rain boots) and an exciting 5 goal performance by Fulham, including 2 by Dempsey. All in all, a pretty good afternoon.

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Mar 06 2012

A Hop Across the Pond- GU SIM Travels to London

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By Scott Polunsky

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wow we finally made it!!! The first night was kicked off with a fantastic group dinner. We had a traditional meal at a British Pub. We did not have an opportunity to get to know our classmates prior to our trip, but this dinner allowed us to get to know everyone! I specifically enjoyed my shepherds pie and chips. This trip has been going smoothly and we have been able to get around on the tube like the locals. I am very excited to meet executives from IMG and NBA International. I think I’m most excited to watch my fellow Texan,Clint Dempsey play for the Fulham Football Club. If he scores a few goals, I’ll be pumped! I know by the end of the trip I will have had the experience of a lifetime. I am so pumped for the rest of the week and the meetings ahead!

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