Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Super Bowl

Tonight is the Super Bowl, the annual football championship for the National Football League, which brings together the conference champions from the National and American Football Conferences.

1.  Economic benefits for localities. For some reason, the convention and visitors bureau in San Jose believes that tracking Super Bowl attendees every move will generate scintillating information relevant to tourism ("San Jose will track Super Bowl visitors' mobile devices to find out what they like to do in the Bay Area," Silicon Valley Business Journal).  I suspect not.

Mostly attendees go to events sponsored by the NFL and to restaurants and bars, and spend money on food and lodging mostly, and don't spend much time or energy on activities that don't have anything to do with the Super Bowl, meaning that ancillary tourism benefits from holding the Super Bowl are pretty minimal.

That's why most communities find that they don't benefit much economically from such all star games and championship sporting events.

San Jose, site of some pre-game events, expects to net about $200,000 ("San Jose expects its extra Super Bowl expenses to be exceeded by visitor-generated tax revenues," SVBJ). It seems that SJ has been better at getting reimbursements for expenses from the NFL, compared to past hosts such as Glendale in suburban Phoenix ("Report: Super Bowl likely was fiscal flop for Glendale," Arizona Republic).

Opening day of the free fan experience Super Bowl City at the foot of Market St. in downtown San Francisco, Calif., on Sat. January 30, 2016 Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle.

2.  More benefits connote to the location where NFL organizes Super Bowl week activities. If the events are held separately in a location distant from where the stadium is, the stadium community is not likely to see much in the way of ancillary economic benefits.

Just like how the NFL held most of its events in New York City when the actual game was at a suburban-located stadium in New Jersey, this year's Super Bowl is in Santa Clara but most of the week's pre-game activities are in San Francisco ("San Francisco is Super Bowl Central this week," USA Today; "Huge crowds force evening closure of Super Bowl City," San Francisco Chronicle. From USAT:
Sure, the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos clash at Levi's Stadium on Feb. 7 in the heart of the valley — Santa Clara, 40 miles south of San Francisco. The stadium is a John Elway heave from gleaming corporate office complexes for Intel and Samsung. But most of the festivities, fans and tech bigwigs are centered in San Francisco until game time.

Super Bowl City and the NFL Experience, book-ending the financial district and South of Market neighborhoods, are drawing thousands of fans to festival-like settings that lean heavily on tech exhibits for virtual reality, drones and video games. A fireworks show and lighting of the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Oakland, illuminated the Bay on Saturday night. Super Bowl parties hosted by ESPN, Playboy, Vanity Fair, Maxim and other high-end brands are scattered across S.F.
3.  Transit.  The Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) did experience about a 10% rise in usage during they week, which they attributed to an increase in the number of riders traveling to Super Bowl related events ("Super Bowl hoopla dramatically pumps up BART weekday ridership" and "BART trains so crowded, passengers asked to remove backpacks especially during Super Bowl Week," SF Chronicle).

Note that to be able to accommodate such ridership increases without taxing the system, the transit network needs to be quite robust.  For example, light rail systems are generally not that robust and have a hard time dealing with such one-time massive increases in ridership.  Similarly, railroad systems may not be that successful either, depending on the stadium location and the track line configurations.

Photo by Peter Menchini. 

4. The opportunity for protest.  Protesters are taking advantage of the opportunity to bring attention to their issues, by calling attention to the contrast between wealth and poverty as exemplified by the Super Bowl ("Why San Franciscans Are So Angry at the Super Bowl," Vice), and city spending in support of Super Bowl-related activities.

5.  Leveraging brand opportunities at the stadium: stadiums as marketing platforms.  Adweek Magazine ("Here's a Look at All the Parts of Levi's Stadium That Are Sponsored by Brands") has a diagram of Levi's Stadium, and all the ways that sponsoring brands are being integrated into stadium marketing opportunities.

It's another illustration of the concept of stadiums and arenas as "media platforms."  See the past blog entry "Stadiums and arenas as enabling infrastructure for 'money making' platforms."  From Adweek:
In addition to the Levi's name on the outside of the structure (a deal worth a cool $220 million), the stadium is stuffed with sponsored amenities—from the Pepsi Fan Deck to the Safeway tailgate area. In all, the San Francisco 49ers inked 16 decade-long deals worth a cumulative half-billion dollars with sponsors "who wanted to establish brand equity inside of our game-day experience," according to the team's chief revenue officer Ethan Casson.

And when that game day happens to be the Super Bowl, all of these brands can expect "a significant uptick in exposure," said 49ers senior manager of corporate communications Roger Hacker.

Still, with so many brand names scattered around, will that exposure translate to new customers for those brands, too? Mario Natarelli, managing partner with brand agency MBLM, isn't sure. "They've taken this asset and sliced it into a million pieces," he said. "If you're going to build strong connections with your customers, is naming part of a parking lot the way to get there? We're skeptical."
The Faithful Mile, courtesy of Safeway, is among the sponsored features of Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers’ new home. Credit: Tony Avelar/Associated Press.

The Adweek article "6 Ways Brands Can Draft Modern Sports Fans," discusses research by Momentum Worldwide on fan attitudes towards brand associations with sports, in a study they called "We Know Sports Fans."

The article is important in providing insight on the directions that sports marketing is moving, and how it will impact the development of stadiums and arenas.  From the article:
Agencies, brands, leagues, properties, content partners and media need to develop new ways of working together to make sure fans never feel like an afterthought. A new approach demands new principles:

Data and intuition: Don't do what's always been done. Understanding what your target audience cares about ensures lasting ROI. Looking at numbers isn't enough. Proper data leads to insights that drive your brand's objectives.

Fan and brand led: Sports properties matter, but if platforms aren't focused on fans, you're already losing. Experiences matter more than messaging. Putting fans first and your brand a close second gives them an experience that provides a value.

Partnership vs. sponsorship: Sponsorships need a long-term view. Being a better partner leads to more access and new opportunities to meaningfully connect.

Activation vs. association: The numbers prove that simply being connected to a sports property doesn't increase sales or brand loyalty. Create an engagement that enhances or evolves the fan experience and people will never forget your name.

Ownership vs. exposure: It's the difference between an experience and a media buy. The very nature of exposure doesn't allow for personalization or a strong connection between property and brand. Creating owned equity is the brand bond you need to build a platform.

Creativity and innovation vs. volume: More than ever, fans walk by static brand placements and the messages don't connect. Build something different, interactive and exciting, and you can do more with one activation than millions of branded logos spread out across a property.

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At 9:40 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: branding. Clearly a tier 2 city in a region isn't going to get the branding -- I'd say the super bowl was in the san francisco. Even when you have a pretty strong subregional identity (Bay Area).

So, for example, a Fairfax County bidding for redskins isn't going to get much local branding value.

Doubly so when you have a partner as greedy as the NFL which want's a 90/10 branding share. Did enjoy Peyton Manning screwing with everyone on his bud light endorsement.

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

That's why what's happened with the Super Bowls in places like NJ, Phoenix/Glendale, SF vs. Santa Clara is so important to acknowledge in terms of ROI.

(or in the past I've written about how Loudoun County paid the Redskins for branding opportunities because of the hq being in Ashburn. Seemed like wasted $ to me. Similarly, why it didn't seem worthwhile to have the Redskins practice facility in DC.)


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