The Process Behind Rebranding Your Stadium

February 26, 2016

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While CEO of SME, Fred Popp, current CEO of Teamup, and his team were responsible for the rebranding of the ‘new’ Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. Teamup also rebranded the Miami Dolphins stadium, which underwent a $400 million renovation starting in 2005.

There is a team culture to embrace when a team transfers venues or renovates. The Yankees had the esteem of championships (26). The Dolphins had the aura of perfection (1972).

Your team has glory in its past, too.

How do you manage this nostalgic reproduction of your history, and transfer of culture like the Yankees and Dolphins? How should you embrace your past in your new venue, or renovated venue, or with your relocation?

In the case of the Yankees, Popp said the new space had to be filled up with the memories of the old space, a block away in the Bronx, and would be torn down.

The entrance to the ‘new’ Yankee Stadium was a shrine to the past, a Hall of Fame with banners, pictures, and highlights from 85 seasons. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter and the stars of the old stadium found a home in the new stadium.

“You craft a brand that speaks to that heritage,” Popp said. “All you are doing is discussing the new stadium in the same language you would talk about the old stadium, but with a sleeker experience and better amenities.”

Popp says you have to get fans to stop talking about the old stadium as quickly as possible and start talking about the new stadium. One of the ways to do that is through cherishing history and upgrades in operations.

“Operationally, you have got to make everything better,” Popp said. “You have to have better seats with better views of the game, with more bathrooms and more attractive concession stands. It has to be an experience that is so far superior to the old experience that people immediately fall in love with the new park.”

The story-telling of your history is vital for your new, or renovated facility.

In its renovation/rebranding process, the Miami Dolphins created a motif with a dolphin launching itself from the water and the words “The Gateway to the Dream.”

The dream of other organizations is what the Dolphins have accomplished: perfection. The 1972 team is the only professional sports franchise in North America ever to have an unblemished record.

The Dolphins poured $400 million into their stadium chasing perfection again. Popp said the team created the “Great 8” moments of the fan experience, a driveway to driveway stroll.

The Dolphins wanted to build on the legacy of the 1972 team by delivering a flawless experience for the fans.

Do not stop at the new paint job for your venue. Trigger new excitement about your team. Tell them, “There is more to us than a fresh coat of paint.” Prove it.

“It was crucial for the Dolphins to operationalize that fundamental,” Popp said. “They developed core values for employees to impact the fans’ last mile into the stadium; the parking, the ticket taking, ushering to the seat, food and concessions, and entertainment during the game. When the game is over, they usher fans back to parking and the trip home.”

The renovation and the fans’ positive experience entering and exiting the stadium made the Dolphins a premium brand. It was crucial in attracting the $37.5 million naming rights partner, which the Dolphins did when they named the stadium SunLife.

Season ticket sales grew 21 percent, and long-term contracted revenue increased to $120 million. Guest satisfaction rose by 195 percent.

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