Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.


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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.


For the full article, please click here. 




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.




Spurs Would Want Control: Should NFL Team Relocate to S.A., Shareholder Says

Posted on: August 11th, 2014

By: Tom Orsborn and Josh Baugh, San Antonio Express News- 


In the wake of Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis’ whirlwind tour of San Antonio, sources with knowledge of the visit said Spurs Sports & Entertainment would be against the Raiders, as they are currently structured, relocating to South Texas.

SS&E is the holding company headed by Peter Holt that owns the Spurs, the WNBA’s Stars and the minor league hockey Rampage team. According to sources, it continues to studiously eye a venture into professional soccer.

Davis’ San Antonio stops included one to Holt’s home, said former Mayor Henry Cisneros, part of a who’s-who collection of local civic and business titans that reignited talk of whether San Antonio is a viable NFL market. Although Cisneros described Davis as a “big fan of the Spurs” who wanted to meet Holt to find out “how a winning franchise does it,” sources said business was also discussed.

Holt did not return phone messages requesting an interview, but Spurs shareholder Charlie Amato indicated that SS&E harbors concerns about its long-term financial health should it be forced to compete with another major league franchise for sponsorships, suite sales and ticket sales.

The solution, Amato said, would be for SS&E to have controlling interest in the Raiders or perhaps any other major league franchise that wanted to move to San Antonio.

“I would be more excited about the Oakland Raiders moving to San Antonio if the Spurs ownership group had the possibility of purchasing the team,” said Amato, chairman and co-founder of Southwest Business Corp.

Amato said that if SS&E controlled the Raiders, it would ensure that the football club would be well run by a management team that has proven marketing success in a challenging environment. A template would be available in the form of Tom Benson’s ownership in New Orleans of the NFL’s Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans.

“We have developed a successful culture under the leadership of Peter Holt and have 20- to 25-year employees who have the ability to manage both franchises and help lower the overall cost of running an NFL team,” Amato said.

“(The Spurs’ control) would make it more affordable and more appealing to the San Antonio market. … We are blessed with a great ownership group in which we park our egos at the door when we have our meetings, and Peter never abuses (us) by shoving things down our throats. I have been in other minority situations with other groups where it was a nightmare.”

A Spurs-controlled NFL team would also ensure that the football club would be culturally compatible with the NBA power, Amato said.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine two more different franchises than the Spurs and Raiders. With the exception of their silver and black colors, the clubs have little in common.

The Spurs are the defending NBA champions, having destroyed the Miami Heat two months ago for their fifth league title in 16 years. The Raiders won three Super Bowls between the 1976 and 1983 seasons, but they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2002.

By any measure, the Spurs are one of the best-run franchises in all of sports, while the Raiders are considered one of the worst run in the NFL.

For years, the Spurs have filled their roster with good citizens. The Raiders, with their menacing “Black Hole” fans and the “Just win, baby” legacy of their late owner Al Davis, embrace their renegade image.

“It’s very important that another sports franchise that comes into San Antonio has the same high-quality culture that exists with the Spurs,” Amato said.

Billionaire B.J. “Red” McCombs also met with Mark Davis. Although a source said Davis appeared to be open to adding an equity partner, McCombs said it was uncertain whether the Raiders owner would want local ownership, should he decide to relocate to San Antonio.

The concerns of Amato notwithstanding, one industry expert believes that an NFL team could succeed in San Antonio independent of the Spurs’ control.

Bernie Mullin, chairman and CEO of The Aspire Group, an Atlanta-based global sports and entertainment firm with ties to the University of Texas, believes that NFL teams seeking to relocate should seriously consider moving to South or Central Texas.

“San Antonio is a very attractive market for the right sport — and football is one of those right sports,” said Mullin, a former NBA executive. “The San Antonio market and certainly the South-Central Texas market of San Antonio and Austin combined are ones that definitely warrant in-depth consideration for any major league team (other than the NBA) that’s looking to move to another market.”

The Aspire Group, which does ticket marketing, sales and service support for UT, recently concluded what Mullin termed a “very comprehensive study” for a major league franchise seeking to relocate that is not a member of the NFL. Among the global markets targeted were San Antonio, Austin and a combination of the two cities, Mullin said.

“The work we did indicated San Antonio and certainly somewhere between the San Antonio and Austin markets would appear to be extremely viable for the NFL,” he said.


For the full article, please click here. 




The University of Texas Partners With The Aspire Group to Launch Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service Operation

Posted on: July 15th, 2014

University of Texas and The Aspire Group will be launching an on-site Fan Relationship Management Center (FRMC) that will be charged with generating over $40 million in revenue and providing all Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service support. The UT Athletics FRMC, when fully operational will have 25 full-time employees following a specialized model structure including Premium Sales; Service & Retention; New Sales and Database Marketing.

The Aspire Group’s Strategic Consulting and Research team will be working with UT Athletics to conduct ticket pricing/ yield management workshops for Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Volleyball.

“In my previous position I had the opportunity to work alongside The Aspire Group, so I know the high level of results they are able to achieve through excellent customer service and sales expertise in the industry. This partnership will be the driving force behind elevating our current Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service operation and enhancing our customer service levels along with the overall fan experience at Texas,” stated Steve Hank, University of Texas, Chief Revenue Officer.

“The Aspire Group is a foremost leader in this sports niche, and they offer a unique variety of services and expertise that fits perfectly with our vision for Texas Athletics moving forward,” stated Steve Patterson, Men’s Athletic Director at The University of Texas.

The UT Athletics FRMC will be led by Mino Solomon as the Director of Ticket Sales and Service. Previously, Mino served as the Director of Group and Inside Sales for the Oakland Raiders since 2012 and prior to that was the Senior Manager of Ticket Sales for the Sacramento Kings.

“We are thrilled to be working with one of the country’s most iconic sport brands and we look forward to take on the opportunity to grow an already substantial revenue generating institution. With our UT Athletics FRMC, we are aiming to set the precedent all Ticket Marketing, Sales and Service operations and Collegiate Athletic Departments will be benchmarking themselves against,” stated Bernie Mullin, The Aspire Group Chairman and CEO.

Texas is the second Big 12 School that has worked with The Aspire Group this year. Aspire has also worked with Kansas, Texas Tech, and former Big 12 member Colorado.

For more information regarding The Aspire Group’s services, please contact Alan Pandiani.

About Texas Athletics

The Texas Longhorns compete at the NCAA Division I level and are members of the Big 12 Conference. The University of Texas has a long history of national championships including: six in men’s baseball, four in football, three in men’s golf, ten in men’s swimming & diving, one in women’s basketball, one in women’s cross country, nine in women’s swimming & diving, two in women’s tennis, six in women’s indoor track & field, five in women’s outdoor track & field, three in women’s volleyball, totaling 50 total National Championships. To go along with this Texas also led the NCAA in total revenue in 2013 at 109 million dollars.

For more information visit The official online source for Texas Athletics.


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.

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The Aspire Group Announces Sport Industry Email Marketing Benchmarking Survey

Posted on: April 29th, 2014

The Aspire Group is conducting a benchmarking survey to analyze the current state of email marketing within the sports and entertainment industry. The results from this survey will offer participants the opportunity to compare email marketing efforts and elements of data capture to other participating collegiate and professional sports properties around the globe.

The goal of this survey is to determine industry best-practices in database management and to benchmark key metrics that are vital to a successful e-marketing strategy. The survey will break down numerous aspects regarding database metrics and analytics from overall email and fan data contact capture techniques.

Individual submissions will be kept completely confidential and a blind version of the collective findings will only be shared with participating properties at no cost. Non-participants will be able to purchase the benchmark report after distribution to participating properties.

If you are interested in participating in the survey or would like more information, please contact Madison Southerlin, Marketing Coordinator of Partnerships, The Aspire Group at prior to May 10th. Participants will have until May 15th to complete the survey.


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. Aspire has a considerable amount of experience within the sports industry currently working with over 39 college and professional entities, and were the first to provide the outsourced database marketing and analytics positions in collegiate athletics (Abbey Carter – Director of Database Marketing & Analytics, Arizona State University; Reece Fischer – Manager of Database Marketing & Analytics, Rutgers University).

For more information visit




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