Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Welcome to Club Erwin, where UT’s changing the gameday experience

Posted on: February 16th, 2015

Austin American-Statesman

By: Brian Davis

The person most responsible for turning up the music, finding DJs and bringing fireworks to Texas athletic events is Felisa Israel, a striking brunette just under 6 feet tall with copper-toned skin, charisma and someone who, quite frankly, got a little freaked when the locals refer to her as ma’am. She’s from LA.
Israel, who has a long background in working with NBA teams, had never really spent much time in Austin. She knew of Texas men’s athletic director Steve Patterson from their days together at the Portland Trail Blazers. When Patterson came to Texas in the fall of 2013, he saw what most Longhorns fans have known for years. The Frank C. Erwin Jr. Special Events Center has about the same dull, lackluster basketball atmosphere as the name implies. No offense to the progressive former Texas regent, of course.

So Patterson hired Israel to, as she said, “sprinkle some professional sports dust on what’s going on here.”

Welcome to Club Erwin. Patterson didn’t want to know what was planned. “They told me they had some good things coming and they wanted to surprise me,” he said. Israel went to work. “The first thing that came into my head was how am I going to incorporate Kevin Durant’s MVP speech?,” Israel said.

The arena staff was incredibly helpful with some out-of-the-box ideas. What about lasers? What about video mapping, the hot new NBA craze? That’s where an image is projected onto the floor to give it a three-dimensional look. Katy Perry used it during the Super Bowl. But Israel said 90 seconds of video mapping costs $100,000. Per game. “I said let’s get a $7,500 disco ball and start with that,” Israel said. A new pregame video featuring Durant, a darkened arena, lights bouncing off the mirror ball and some on-court pyrotechnics create a completely different environment lasting 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

“I think they’ve tried to embrace who we are. I think it’s awesome,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes, now in his 17th season. “I know I appreciate it, and I know the players do.”

Listening to feedback

Remember that survey the Longhorn Foundation sent out in September asking questions about the game-day experience? An astounding 5,500 people responded. From the sound of things, Texas fans just let ‘em have it. “In every single aspect of our business, we are listening,” said Steve Hank, Texas’ chief revenue officer. Overwhelmingly, the survey results said, “the game experience in men’s basketball was not where it needed to be.” Hank promises the athletic department will conduct the survey every year to track improvements. Patterson made a lot of die-hard fans nervous when he first took over in November 2013 because he suggested changes were coming. “Everyone’s afraid of change. Everyone’s afraid of the unexpected,” Israel said.

Club Erwin is a prime example of Patterson’s laser-like focus on improving customer relations and the fan experience. That’s what Disney Institute officials stressed during their meetings with Texas administrators in Orlando, Fla. “We can’t control what happens on the field, but we can control how people feel,” said Brent Centlivre, Texas’ account manager at the Disney Institute. “Even if it’s a close game and we lost, did someone thank me for coming? Did someone say they appreciate me being here? “I’m going to remember how someone treated one of my daughters as opposed to whether Texas won the game,” he added.

Does winning or losing change how one feels about the game experience? Possibly. Everyone loves to say they were at the 2005 national championship game at the Rose Bowl. Not too many brag about being there in 2009. Cliff Mountain, the CEO of Open Labs, has been a Texas football and basketball season ticket holder for more than 15 years. He truly enjoys the new atmosphere and understands what Patterson is trying to accomplish. “Austin have a lot of places to spend their entertainment dollars,” Mountain said. “The fan experience has to deliver something incremental. Part of the incremental piece is winning.”

Bringing fans back

Reporters who cover Texas football games would be aghast at the scene in the Royal-Memorial Stadium press box. It now looks like a Wall Street trading floor, with dozens of computer workstations, dual monitors and more than 20 people smiling and dialing. The press box inside Bellmont Hall is now the home to “the largest customer service and sales team in collegiate athletics,” said Bernie Mullin, CEO of The Aspire Group. “It’s not even close.”

Patterson initially signed a one-year services contract with Aspire to outsource Texas’ ticket selling operations. Texas and The Aspire Group are now engaged in talks to sign a multiyear extension, according to Texas officials.

The partnership must be working. Men’s basketball ticket sales are way up. Sales of six-game mini plans are up an eye-popping 325 percent, from 277 packages sold during the 2013-14 season to 1,129 this season. The Aspire Group receives a monthly $15,000 management fee, according to the initial contract obtained by the American-Statesman. Ticket representatives, many of whom are mid-to-late 20s college graduates getting their first break in the sports business, receive commissions based on their weekly season-ticket sales totals. And Aspire engages in revenue sharing once Texas goes over 10 percent of its annual sales goals. No matter how many tickets Aspire sells, the company is capped at 15 percent of revenues. Every season ticket holder is assigned to a sales rep. If you are a Texas season ticket holder, odds are someone has likely tried to call you.

Carly Reger handles service inquiries and manages those responsible for season ticket retention. Max Kozinn oversees new sales. Mino Solomon runs the entire department. All of them came to UT with some kind of professional sports backgrounds. If you send an email to complain about something, these three will probably read it. “Today, there was a lady who sent an email that said my floor at the Erwin Center has been sticky since the beginning of the season,” Reger said. “Within five minutes, we’ve got somebody at the Erwin Center headed to mop the floor where she sits.”

So what about football? 

It’s clear that changing that fan atmosphere at men’s and women’s basketball is paying off. But what about football? “Wabash Cannonball, March Grandioso, Texas Fight, that is not going away,” Hank said. “We are not here to denigrate, ruin, get rid of the traditions that have made the University of Texas great. But you know what? Every tradition started somewhere.” Israel has carte blanche to try new things this fall at Royal-Memorial Stadium. As a self-professed “band geek,” she smartly brings up ways to go about highlighting the Texas band. “I definitely want to enhance it. I want to make it more fun, make them more of a presence than they already are,” she said. School officials have already confirmed to the Statesman that Jet Pack Guy won’t return in 2015. Trey Goldsmith, longtime marketing consultant for Mighty Fine Burgers, is excited about what opportunities lie ahead at Texas athletic events.

“The fact they’re willing to do a jet pack says to me they’re willing to do almost anything,” Goldsmith said.

So what’s next?

“Alien spaceship from Mars coming to drop off hamburgers!,” Goldsmith declared. “Maybe not.”


To read the full article, click here.

U.S.-Based Aspire’s Partnership With National Rugby League Off To Strong Start

Posted on: February 11th, 2015

Sports Business Daily Global

By: Tyler Everett

U.S.-based sport and entertainment marketing firm The Aspire Group’s first foray into Australia is off to a strong start. Led by Aspire Dir of Australian Operations Ben Pincus, the firm opened a center based at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Dec. 9 devoted exclusively to outbound calls selling National Rugby League season tickets — “memberships,” as they’re referred to in Australia. The Fan Relationship Management Center, the first of its kind in the NRL, features 10 sales consultants, two apiece representing NRL sides St. George Illawarra Dragons, Canterbury Bulldogs, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Parramatta Eels and Wests Tigers. Pincus is encouraged by the pilot program’s results to date — more than 2,000 memberships have already been sold since December — and confident the concerted effort in this area will continue to pay off. It took Pincus, FRMC Manager Ryan Burgess, who manages the call center, outside consultant Marcus Zeltzer and the 10 consultants just 18 work days to crack the 1,000-membership barrier, and as of Thursday, 2,149 memberships had been sold, good for more than $191,000 in revenue. In addition to the financial benefit, another point of emphasis is on teaching the sales consultants skills that will benefit the NRL’s growth as a business in the long term. Pincus: “It’s teaching them about sales and service, closing techniques and how sponsorship and membership work together, all the areas of the industry. … Eventually these sales consultants are able to leave our center and go into the clubs with a skill set that no entry-level employee they’ve had has possessed previously.” The plan is to continue the collaboration with the NRL for at least three seasons, with Aspire hoping for the program to represent eight to 10 teams in ’16 before expanding to each of the league’s 16 teams for the ’17 campaign.

LONG TIME COMING: When the FRMC went live on Dec. 9, it marked one of Aspire’s first steps toward establishing a foothold in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically in Australia, which Pincus said represents a “huge opportunity.” It also wrapped up a three-year process of planning and negotiations. Aspire Founder Bernie Mullin has been eyeing the Australian market, and the NRL in particular, since first engaging in talks with former NRL Head of Commercial Paul Kind — who was sacked by the league on Wednesday for a breach of conduct — and NRL GM of Marketing & Fan Engagement Michael Johnstone around three years ago. Pincus said that Aspire’s attraction to Australia was based in large part on Aussie fans’ love of the game. He said, “They have a passion that, unless you’re some of those lucky franchises like the Detroit Red Wings or Boston Red Sox, you don’t really see. I think a lot of it has to do with, these clubs are still relatively in their infancy from a business perspective. It wasn’t that long ago that they were more just community-based, community-funded clubs.” Pincus compared the family-friendly atmosphere at NRL stadiums to what U.S. sports fans find at minor league baseball games, but cited the league’s $1.2B TV contract and 254,000 members as proof of the game’s pull Down Under. The talks between Mullin and the NRL execs nearly yielded a program similar to the one currently underway, but it was put on hold when former NRL CEO David Gallop stepped away from rugby league in ’12. Mullin, however, remained persistent, and Kind and Johnstone stayed open to the idea. “Paul Kind and Michael Johnstone didn’t let it die,” Pincus said. With the initiative given new life, Pincus, who had been involved in the earlier talks during a previous stint with Aspire but was working for Ironman in Nov. ‘13, got a call from his old boss. Mullin offered him a chance to rejoin Aspire and head up the project in Australia. Despite receiving no guarantee of anything beyond an initial period of negotiations, Pincus deemed the move to rejoin Aspire an easy decision. “Even though I had left, we obviously had a great relationship and he knew that I was a big part of this and wanted to be a part of this in the future,” Pincus said. “I came here basically for three months, with no guarantee of anything after that. For someone like Bernie, I was perfectly fine with it.”

MAKING THE PITCH: Before cementing the collaboration, the NRL wanted assurances Aspire could deliver a program worth the investment. “They said, ‘Come here for basically a three-month program and let’s see if you guys really know what it is that you’re doing and if you can adapt this for the Australian market,’” Pincus said. To get the project up and running, Aspire needed the approval of a number of execs both inside and outside the NRL. After league bosses signed off, the next step was gaining backing from the Australian Rugby League Commission, a body of Aussie business leaders who govern the game. To convince them of the value of the project, Pincus explained to NRL execs the need to dedicate resources to outbound calls, an area that had not previously been emphasized. The league’s lack of prior experience made it essential to, as Pincus said, “do this the right way the first time and sort of educate the clubs along the way.”

HIRING PROCESS: Once the project was given the green light in late September, the next order of business was to hire the sales consultants and equip the office ahead of the FRMC’s launch on Dec. 9. A top priority as Pincus and Burgess went about hiring the 10 consultants was to represent the NRL’s fan base. Pincus: “All 10 consultants, from the beginning, we wanted to have them be Australians. One, it’s authentic; we want to represent the NRL fans as who they really are. Two, the goal of this is not to just bring a bunch of people who are already doing it. What we wanted to do was show the NRL and NRL fans and the NRL clubs how they can do it.”

CREATING A PIPELINE: Pincus is also working to launch a program that will give 32 interns — two per NRL club — exposure to all areas of sports business in what is tentatively being called the NRL Business Academy. Each intern will receive centralized training from Pincus and two account managers, while working for a club and gaining experience in a variety of areas of sports business. Pincus said that the NRL and Aspire’s goal is to eventually create a program similar to the NBA’s team marketing and business operations department (TMBO). TMBO has acted as a liaison between the NBA league office and all NBA, WNBA and D-League teams since it was created in ‘00. Aspire’s connection to that program is strong, as Mullin was the first director of TMBO, from ’00-04. TMBO, first created as an in-house consulting division for the NBA, has become a launchpad for top execs, as its alumni include several high-ranking officials inside and outside the NBA. Pincus said of his goals for the NRL internship program, “Right now [within the NRL] there’s not necessarily that pipeline of talent for membership or sponsorship or public relations or any areas of the business specifically … We want to expose these interns to as much as we possibly can to hopefully find those next great entry-level employees and hopefully future executives.”

To read full article, click here. 

Army-Aspire Extend Partnership

Posted on: February 5th, 2015

The Army Athletic Association and The Aspire Group have reached a five-year extension, Army Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan announced today.

Army and Aspire began working together in 2011 and have extended a partnership that allows Black Knights fans a full menu of ticket options for football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse games.

The Aspire Group operates a Fan Relationship Management Center at West Point and will hire an additional three staff members immediately.

“The Aspire Group has allowed us the opportunity to continue to build relationships with our fans,” said Corrigan. “Their success in outsourcing ticket sales operations is tremendous. They are also allotting more resources to Army West Point and that means better service for our fans.”

The Aspire Group Fan Relationship Management Center specializes in revenue enhancement by providing superb customer experience for fans on ticket sales and service calls. Joe Kronander is the Director of Business Strategy and Analytics and Joe Begendorf serves as the manager for the Army FRMC and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Center and continual development of the Army ticket sales program.

“It has been an honor to represent West Point over the past three years,” said Bill Fagan, Aspire Senior Vice President and General Manager, Fan Relationship Management. “Our staff arrives to post every day knowing their top priority is serving Army Athletic fans ticket marketing, sales and service needs. We are humbled to continue our partnership with the Army Athletics for many years to come.”

Loyal Knicks Fans May Deserve a Medal. But a Refund?

Posted on: January 21st, 2015

The New York Times

By: Richard Sandomir

Loyal Knicks fans will not be surprised after this painful season when they learn that their ticket prices will not rise in 2015-16.

A freeze on prices was their reward after last season, when the Knicks won 37 games, and in eight of nine dismal seasons before 2011-12.

The Knicks offered a different type of compensation for the final home game of the 2007-8 season: free food for fans as they watched the team’s 58th loss — the next-to-last game coached by Isiah Thomas.

Even after winning their second straight game Wednesday night, the Knicks (7-36) had the N.B.A.’s worst record. Their tickets cost an average of $129.38 apiece, the most expensive by far in the league, according to Team Marketing Report, an industry publication. Their roster is in the process of being dismantled. Yet game after game, Madison Square Garden improbably reports capacity crowds, even as the team earns comparisons to the woeful 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished 9-73.

But as the team continues its seemingly inevitable march to a forgettable season’s merciful end, some are asking a new question: How should the Knicks reward fans who, more than ever, are proving their extreme devotion? In what looks to be the historic nadir for the franchise, is the Garden’s policy of holding the line on prices after bad seasons enough to acknowledge the angst of those whose season tickets cost them $49 to $3,700 a game?

Michael Barasch, a Manhattan lawyer, does not think so. For 22 years, he was a season-ticket holder. Last season, he paid $45,100 for four seats at $275 each. Mostly, he took his clients, injured firefighters, to the seats in Section 115, in the corner opposite the home team’s bench. But early last spring, when he learned that he would also have to pay $1,100 for tickets to three meaningless preseason games in order to renew his seats, he balked.

“I feel like I broke up a bad marriage — and I feel fabulous about it,” he said.

Still, he cannot completely stay away. Taking his clients to games is still a lure of sorts. So he is paying a friend for four similar seats in the same section for 11 games. The cost: $12,000.

“Last game I saw, against Houston, I left at halftime,” Barasch said of the Knicks’ 24-point loss to James Harden and the Rockets on Jan. 8. “I saw Harden, but I couldn’t tell you who most of the Knicks were.”

Barasch’s radical solution would be for the Knicks to give fans a full rebate on all games played since the team traded J. R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland and waived the three players they received (two of those players have since been re-signed).

“Since they stopped being both competitive and entertaining that day, we shouldn’t have to pay for the games that followed,” Barasch said.

When Phil Jackson was hired as the Knicks’ president, he said that he believed he was running a playoff-bound team. But a 5-20 start was followed by a 16-game losing streak. Injuries have limited the playing time of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. After trading Smith and Shumpert in a salary dump, Jackson blamed himself for a roster that has seriously underachieved.

Barasch said that Jackson and his boss, James L. Dolan, the chairman of the Garden, could learn from Broadway, where theatergoers are routinely offered a refund or exchange for a different date if an above-the-title star does not appear in a performance. When Barasch and his wife went to see Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” recently, they learned that Glenn Close was sick, so they exchanged their tickets for another day.

“At least I had that option,” Barasch said. The only vaguely similar option available to him with his Knicks package is to sell his remaining tickets on the secondary market, probably at a loss.

Sports ticketing and marketing experts say the Knicks do not need to mimic Broadway policy or drop prices. Several also said they should not.

“Not unless people are saying: ‘No, we’re not renewing. We’re not coming,’ ” said Jon Greenberg, the executive editor of Team Marketing Report. “Fans know what they’re getting into, especially with the Knicks.”

Bernie Mullin, chairman of the Aspire Group, a sports marketing firm, said that giving rebates, or refunds, based on poor performance would be a bad precedent.

“If LeBron or Kobe weren’t playing, you’d want a rebate,” said Mullin, a former Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Hawks executive. “It’s an impossible road to go down. What we recommend is to get your tickets priced right and have modest cost-of-living increases each year. But don’t price based on wins or losses.”

The Garden has taken a different route. Over three recent seasons, which coincided with the phased, $1 billion reopening of the renovated Garden, the Knicks raised their ticket prices. For 2011-12, their first full season with Anthony, prices increased significantly — an average of 49 percent. The next season, the increase was a more modest 4.9 percent, followed by a 6.4 percent rise in 2013-14.

Yet still the fans came, renewing their season tickets at a 91 percent rate before the current dismal season. The Garden dotes on its loyalists by providing the sort of experiences that are increasingly common in sports: get-togethers with current and former players and the Knicks City Dancers for food, conversation and photos at the Garden or in nearby restaurants.

“It’s always smart to appease your fans when you’re 6-36,” Greenberg said. “That’s abysmal. That’s not entertainment.”

Fortunately for the Knicks, they can rely on the patience and kindness of a fan base that can still find the fleeting joy in a dunk by Langston Galloway or a quarter’s worth of solid team play.

“It’s the illusion of hope,” Barasch said.


To read full article, click here.

Man On Mission to Bring US-style Razzmatazz to English Football

Posted on: November 20th, 2014

By: Emma Jacobs, Financial Times

Atlanta-dwelling, mustachioed businessman Bernie Mullin is on a mission. He wants football, a game that many tribal fans believe has been spoiled by billionaire owners, to fix its eye more firmly on the money.

What sport needs is razzmatazz, he says. “In America, it’s entertainment. It’s not basketball, it’s basketball entertainment. We get dancers, cheerleaders and DJs, contests and videoboards.”

The 65-year-old has a vested interest in making this case. He is in London to generate business for The Aspire Group, the Georgia-based ticket marketing and sales company he started in 2008, which helps sports franchises build relationships with fans. The key to a club’s success, he says, is less about a winning team than entertainment and relationships with fans.

A former semi-professional footballer and life-long Everton fan, who grew up in Liverpool in the northwest of England, he knows only too well what it is to have life-long commitment to a club.

“The level of passion and commitment of the fans is over the top,” he says. I went to Goodison Park [Everton Football Club’s home ground] with my dad at five. The first thing I do every morning is go on the Everton website. Got to have my fix.” At 7am on a Saturday, you can find him – if it is an early game – meeting his fellow Evertonians in an Irish pub in Atlanta. A few years ago, he was rumoured to be part of a consortium to buy the club: a story he denies.

Mr Mullin’s accent slips between his native Liverpudlian and transatlantic, though as a child he attended elocution classes so he could “learn to talk like the Queen . . . One did not want a Liverpool accent because that was a social stigma.”
Sport is a business unlike any others, he says. “It’s completely illogical. The addiction is crazy. But the owners take the fans for granted. They’re not running it like a business because they’re not treating their top customers superbly.”
Talent, digital media, television rights, merchandise: everyone is all over that. But ticket marketing and sales? Woefully neglected, says Mr Mullin.

Many of Aspire’s ticket sales, he says, come through phone calls rather than social media or emails. They are tipped off by “digital prequalification” – by which he means a reply to a targeted email or text, based on customers’ previous ticket purchases. In the UK, he says, people are far more suspicious than their US peers and believe data collection to be an “invasion of privacy”. Surely they are right to be suspicious? “There’s a lot of companies not as ethical as we are,” he concedes.

After playing football for Oxford City in the early 1970s during a stint at British Leyland, the automotive and engineering conglomerate, he moved to the US and did a PhD in organisational behaviour and administration at the University of Kansas. Later, he moved to the new sports business department of the University of Massachusetts. After a few years in academia, and writing a book on sports marketing, he was hired in 1986 by the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. “They were in desperate shape,” he says. So he got the team aggressively selling to fans: calling, mailing them with offers based on their interests. In five seasons, he says, ticket revenues went from $7m to over $28m.

Mr Mullin believes he can make a sports customer out of anyone, even me. He pitches the patter used by his sales team. “I’m building a relationship with you, Emma. I’m asking questions in a really friendly, open honest way. What do you like to do?”

I tell him my entertainment demands are slightly restricted by my two-year-old. Bingo, he spots a way in. “What does your son like to do?” Play with Lego and sticks. Mr Mullin is not put off. “OK, tell me your son’s seven. What does your son like to do? Boom.” He has made a sale to me and my imaginary seven-year-old.

“Let’s say if your son was coming, he loved it,” he says. “You don’t really like football but you like the fact that we got something together as a family. So as a mum you’ll do it for your kids.”

Targeting the young is obviously a source of future custom. So, he says, trips to football clubs should be pitched to primary schools as rewards for good behaviour or academic achievement.

“You want to buy data off schools?” I ask. “No. Good God, no. No.” Instead he proposes forging relationships with schools, offering tickets as prizes for teachers and children.

His tireless sales instinct was learnt at the side of his father, an insurance salesman at Prudential, door to door collecting money from policyholders, pushing for more sales. Accompanying him on his tour of the neighbourhood impressed upon the young Mr Mullin the importance of relationships.

During the holidays, the little Bernie would be given a bunch of flowers to hand over to the mother in a house, the “gatekeeper” – “My dad knew her name, knew all about her family.” So he was cute child labour? “I don’t think Dad would have been that cynical.”

Every week his father would discover if he had made it to the top of Prudential’s salespeople. The family would clear the house just in case his father had done badly. “My dad would go ballistic. He was that competitive, that aggressive and wanted to be the top.”

Relationships are important to his business. He trains his staff to find out who the gatekeepers are – getting to know a personal assistant is key to his bottom line: “You listen to them.” Sales staff are encouraged to pump them for information: what does your company like to do? Do you have suites? Do you have premium seats?

The work demands listening skills, he says. “My dad was good at listening . . . I’m good at listening.” He pauses.“It doesn’t sound like I’m good at listening.”

In truth he barely takes a breath.

Mr Mullin’s staff are “sports sales and entertainment consultants”. In each sales centre there is a sales scoreboard, on which they tally the number and duration of calls, how many appointments they have made, how many sales. He expects Aspire’s revenues to reach $12.5m in the next financial year.

There are also the rituals. “You make a sale, you walk up to the board, enter the information. You ring a bell, we celebrate the sale.” The goal is to engage fans by deploying sales tactics: capture, communicate, close. The team focuses first on reducing fan churn, before engaging the casual fan and then acquiring new ones.

He worries that people who are used to watching highlights of sports events on television are bored by the real thing. “We’re feeding the [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] generation,” he says. But in an era of electronic communication, there is nothing like watching sport together. “It’s community.”

 To read the full article, please click here.


New Season, New Look. The Aspire Group Partners with Eyesore, Inc. to Launch Fresh, User-Friendly Website.

Posted on: October 8th, 2014

The Aspire Group, the world’s leading provider in outsourced Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service, has partnered with Atlanta-based Eyesore, Inc. to refresh and re-launch its website ( After months of customer-focused research that led to the overall planning and execution of the website refresh, Aspire’s website will be going live today.

The redesigned website features improved functionality and benefits to users, including simpler navigation, clearer and more concise service offering enhanced content and an overall better representation of the core message underlying what The Aspire Group is and the customers the company serves.

“This refresh will provide users with a holistic view of what services we can provide to meet their needs,” stated Mia Ramer, Marketing Manager for The Aspire Group. “We pride ourselves on all the brands we have partnered with and we want to give users the opportunity to look inside our portfolio and see the results we have produced for our client partners.”

About The Aspire Group

The Aspire Group, founded by Dr. Bernie Mullin in 2008, is a global sports marketing firm that specializes in enhancing every stream of revenue and building lifelong fans through superb fan engagement and service. With over 240 full-time employees, The Aspire Group services over 130 best of brand sports properties in North America, Europe and Australia by providing ongoing strategic and implementation support in ticketing, consulting, research, and revenue and marketing enhancement, and sport investment optimization.

For more information visit

About Eyesore, Inc.

Professionals. Techies. Creatives. Thinkers. Creators. Eyesore Inc. is a full-service digital production and creative agency specializing in mobile applications, e-commerce, and a full range of website creation and maintenance services. With clients ranging from large, national corporations to regional not-for-profits, Eyesore’s team of content experts, developers, and programmers, create the online presence, tools, systems, and applications that not only wow visitors, and move companies forward to success.

For more information visit

Miami RedHawks and The Aspire Group Partner on Fan Relationship Management Center

Posted on: September 10th, 2014

The Aspire Group and Mid-American Conference (MAC) member Miami University have reached an agreement to form a Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC) on-campus in Oxford, Ohio. Miami and Aspire will engage in a full scope, next-level partnership that includes proactive outbound sales, service and retention, intelligent e-marketing, and a full array of strategic consulting and research initiatives. The RedHawk FRMC will consist of three full-time employees; one Manager, one Sales & Service Consultant and a Database Marketing Coordinator, supplemented with a staff of Miami University students.

“We are ecstatic to partner with The Aspire Group in an effort to assist our ticket sales and operations. Aspire’s approach for strategically maximizing revenue paired with their meticulous attention to the entire fan experience were the determining factors in our decision to form this partnership,” stated David Sayler, Director of Athletics.

With the launch of the RedHawk FRMC, The Aspire Group will take their “Next Practice” ticket marketing, sales and service operation with proven success at dozens of collegiate properties and customize it to the RedHawks. The Database Marketing Coordinator, who will be responsible for day to day management of RedHawks Athletics ticket sales and marketing CRM system, will be the first of its kind in the Mid-American Conference. The position will focus on implementing strategic initiatives to grow revenues and maximizing Sales Consultant efficiency.

Miami Athletics is one of the winningest programs in MAC history with nearly 30 combined all-sports trophies for men and women. Several programs are also among the winningest in the history of the MAC: Miami Men’s Basketball (21 championships), Women’s Tennis (20 championships), Men’s Cross Country (20 championships), Women’s Swimming (17 championships) and Football (15 championships). In addition, the Synchronized Skating team has 19 national titles and the Ice Hockey Team has make 11 national tournament and two Frozen Four appearances. Academically, Miami leads the MAC with an 85% NCAA Student-Athlete Graduation rate. In the Spring of 2014, 507 student-athletes combined for the highest departmental term GPA in history of 3.301.

“We are proud to partner with Miami University and represent their rich history in both academic and athletic excellence. This partnership will provide RedHawks Athletics fans a personal fan service representative to serve them on a year-round basis.” stated Bill Fagan, The Aspire Group’s SVP & GM for Fan Relationship Management.

For questions or inquiries regarding The Aspire Group’s services, please contact Alan Pandiani at 404.389.9100 or email at

For more information visit


About The Aspire Group

The Aspire Group is a global sports and entertainment firm founded by Dr. Bernie Mullin that partners with its clients to maximize revenue, people, organizational performance and opportunities. The Aspire Group’s more than 200 full-time employees service sports properties in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia, by providing ongoing strategic and implementation support in executing and maintaining highly innovative sales, marketing, management, and operational systems and programs. The Aspire Group has become the leader in revenue enhancement with over 38 collegiate and 39 professional properties partnering with Aspire. This is best embodied in The Aspire Group’s fastest growing division, Fan Relationship Management.

For more information visit




Rutgers University Tackles Demand For Football Tickets With Dynamic Pricing

Posted on: September 5th, 2014

By: Jesse Lawrence, Forbes


How Rutgers University fares against the challenges offered by Big Ten Conference football opponents is yet to be determined, but the school has already passed one major test off the field.

Demand for Rutgers football tickets has never been higher, with Rutgers supporters clamoring for tickets to home games during the inaugural Big Ten season.

How is Rutgers ensuring that its fans are the ones receiving home tickets and not ticket resellers looking to capitalize on the increase in demand?

The answer is simple: dynamic pricing, a long-standing strategy that has been embraced by many, most notably the airline industry, but has only picked up momentum in the sports industry in the past five years.

Rutgers has implemented dynamic pricing for football tickets to all four Big Ten home games this season. The first of those will be September 13th when Penn State visits High Point Solutions Stadium in Rutgers’ first Big Ten Conference game.

Though dynamic pricing is not new to sports in general, having been instituted in Major League Baseball for a few years now and slowly gaining traction in the NHL and NBA, few universities have opted to change their ticket pricing structure.

Rutgers took advantage of the school’s entry into the Big Ten to revamp how its football tickets are priced.

Dynamic pricing offers the school the flexibility of adjusting the price of tickets in real-time, ensuring the secondary market does not solely dictate the value of the school’s tickets. This allows the school to maximize revenue from each of its Big Ten home games while also dissuading ticket resellers from purchasing single-game tickets.

One of the primary reasons for implementing a dynamic pricing structure was to protect the true Rutgers football fan. With a significant variance in demand between home games this season, static ticket pricing would have enabled ticket brokers to purchase as many tickets as possible for the Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin games and then essentially set the value for those tickets on the secondary market.

Tickets would be bought at face value and would subsequently surface on the secondary market for two to three times that price only seconds later.

Rutgers fans looking to buy tickets for just one game will see similar prices on both the primary and secondary market. For fans looking to go to several games over the season, the ability to purchase season tickets at a particular set price becomes all the more valuable.

“Dynamic pricing increases the value of being a season ticket holder,” said Geoff Brown, Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief Marketing Officer. “This is one of the many reasons that demand for our season tickets is at an all-time high. We have been telling our fans for months that it makes much more sense to buy a $265 season ticket than to pay $150 or more for a single game.”

The price certainty of season tickets has already proven to be an attractive option as Rutgers set a school record by selling nearly 31,000 season tickets.

Last week, Rutgers announced that the Penn State game was sold out, leaving the secondary market as the only option for tickets.

The get-in price for Rutgers vs. Penn State tickets is currently $125 and with the quantity available decreasing daily, there is no guarantee the price will drop significantly. Thus, fans waiting out the market will ultimately pay considerably more than the season ticket holder who spent $265 a few months ago – while having the added bonus of being guaranteed the same seats for every home game.

Reece Fischer, Manager of Revenue Strategy and Ticketing Analytics, said there are several different factors that influence how his office dynamically prices tickets, with the goal being to offer ticket prices that beat the secondary market.

“We see the prices that fans are paying on the secondary market,” said Fischer. “Dynamic pricing allows us to adjust our prices to match the current market conditions on a daily basis. The biggest factors that we consider are secondary market prices, remaining ticket inventory, and quality of opponent.”

Though dynamic pricing is much more reflective of the true value of a ticket, it does not mean that this strategy comes without any drawbacks.

Since Rutgers is only dynamically pricing for Big Ten games, the school is not altering its prices for Saturday’s home opener against Howard and the September 27th game against Tulane.

Ticket brokers who purchased season tickets often attempt to make money off the big games while simply dumping tickets for lower-demand opponents. That’s why tickets are available on the secondary market for the Howard game at less than face value.

Yet, it’s still substantially more expensive to buy tickets off the secondary market to the marquee games compared to buying season tickets for all six home games this year. If that remains the case, Brown and Fischer know it really doesn’t matter how much it costs for games such as Howard.

While it may be a daunting task for Rutgers to be immediately competitive in the Big Ten on the football field, it appears the school’s ticket office is ahead of the curve compared to many of its conference counterparts.


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Rutgers Football Big Ten Opener Against Penn State Sold Out

Posted on: August 29th, 2014

Rutgers Athletics announced today that Rutgers’ first football game in the Big Ten versus Penn State on September 13 is sold out.

“We are thrilled to announce our first preseason sellout of High Point Solutions Stadium for the Penn State game,” said Rutgers Director of Athletics Julie Hermann. “Our Rutgers supporters stepped up to paint our stadium scarlet and that’s a first key to our Big Ten success.”

Season tickets for the 2014 season are also sold out as a record 30,927 purchased season tickets for Rutgers’ first Big Ten season.

Small quantities of single-game tickets are still available for fans who want to attend the Michigan and Wisconsin games along with the remaining home games, including the home opener against Howard. Tickets are available by calling 1-866-445-GORU or visiting

The highly anticipated game has been one of the hottest tickets in school history. It is the earliest a game has sold out prior to a season since High Point Solutions Stadium was expanded to its current capacity of 52,454 in 2009.


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Big Sky Buckhead to Become First Restaurant and Bar to Showcase Exclusive Fantasy Football Analytics This Fall

Posted on: August 28th, 2014

Partnership with Competitive Sports Analysis gives Big Sky patrons the ability to optimize fantasy football rosters through live streams of player data.

Atlanta-based Competitive Sports Analysis (CSA), the leading provider of predictive sports data, announced a partnership today with local restaurant and bar, Big Sky Buckhead. The popular sports bar will debut CSA’s first scoutPRO® Data Ticker in a pilot program during the NFL season. Starting with Week One of the NFL season, fantasy football fans throughout the Atlanta area will be able to receive up-to-the minute player analytics and patented predictions through live streaming feeds across Big Sky’s TV screens. The live streaming feed will debut during the first NFL game on Thursday, September 4th.

​The scoutPRO live stream will feature weekly positions for the top 25 players for each position including running back, wide receiver and quarterback, along with injury reports and information regarding special deals at Big Sky. The ticker feed is updated in real time and runs daily.

“We’re thrilled to be CSA’s pilot partner for its scoutPRO data ticker,” said Tyler Fawbush, bar manager at Big Sky. “It gives us the ability to provide our customers with insightful fantasy sports data that they can’t find anywhere else in the city. Not to mention we’re two Atlanta-based businesses that are teaming up together. It’s going to be a great experience.”

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimates that over 41 million people play fantasy sports. Moreover, CSA’s research shows 58 percent of players subscribe to fantasy sites to help with decision-making, and the average general manager (GM) spends a whopping $1,177 annually to play fantasy sports.

“As the fantasy market booms, mobile app developers, retail venues, stadiums and restaurants are all seeking to engage millions of fans both online and offline,” said Diane Bloodworth, founder and CEO of Competitive Sports Analysis. “We’re excited to pilot our first scoutPRO ticker tape right here in Atlanta with Big Sky. This partnership is an opportunity to put our game-changing analytics in the hands of more players, ultimately making fantasy sports more competitive and popular.”

In addition to the daily ticker feed at Big Sky, fantasy players can experience scoutPRO’s predictive data and receive depth charts, player stats, full player rankings, player comparison tools and more with a scoutPRO Fantasy Football subscription. Subscriptions start as low as $19.99 and can be purchased here.

About Competitive Sports Analysis

Competitive Sports Analysis (CSA) is a leading provider of predictive data for sports. The Atlanta-based company licenses its data for the entertainment, restaurant, gaming and live sports sectors. In addition, CSA offers fantasy sports players highly accurate, league-winning predictions through its smart, patented scoutPRO® software that consistently beats the competition and revolutionizes roster management. Today, scoutPRO Fantasy Football is one of the best tools on the market with a more than 60 percent accuracy rating. In 2014, CSA launched scoutPRO® Coaching Edition, which is disrupting the athletic recruitment and coaching scenes. The company has also started licensing its player data and highly accurate predictions to the restaurant industry, stadium venues, mobile games, media companies and more. For more information, visit and follow @scoutPROfantasy and @scoutPROcoach on Twitter.

About Big Sky Buckhead

Big Sky Buckhead is a new restaurant and bar in the heart of Buckhead’s West Village, offering a clean, contemporary take on a mountain lodge, with second floor views of the Buckhead skyline. Founders Cains Hill Group LLC have brought on acclaimed Chef Hector Santiago, who has created an inspired fast casual dining concept, and Pedro Matos who helms the kitchen as Big Sky’s Executive Chef to execute the bold and fresh contemporary casual menu. Big Sky offers 10 taps for draft beer both up and downstairs, and a collection of unique cocktails. For more information, visit and follow @bigskybuckhead on Twitter.




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