To Renovate, Rebuild or Relocate?…That Is The Question.

February 25, 2016

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Your venue’s paint needs refreshing. Your branding is minimal. Recruits frown when they walk into the home locker room. Your game entertainment coordinator has limited tools to make the fan experience exciting.

You have three options: renovate, rebuild, or relocate your venue.

Here are the things you need to consider before you can make an informed decision:

  • Who would come to a renovated, or new facility?
  • What premium amenities should you offer? At what price points?
  • What is the market tolerance for Personal Seat Licenses or construction gifts?
  • What is the dollar value of the early construction gifts?
  • How many long-term premium seat contracts do you believe you can secure?
  • What are the anticipated income commitments from existing and new sponsorships?
  • What are the strategic partnerships for food and beverage or other outsourced partners?
  • What is the bonding capacity or financing alternatives available on campus?

The biggest challenge of athletic facility design and renovation is making sure the venue is fan-centric with the ability to provide a superb fan and game entertainment experience with excellent customer service.

Every sport organization I have worked for has had success because we asked the fans what they wanted and then did our best to give it to them.

So get started with on-line surveys. Going online can provide you with accurate data from a larger pool of fans. Segment the data by interest and commitment. Get these initiatives done quickly.

When it comes to discussing potential relocation, do not assume you have to move because fans are not attending. Aspire recently conducted an in-depth market feasibility study for a major league team in the U.S.A. It was a scientifically-valid regression analysis of over 70 individual market statistics and fan behavior characteristics. The conclusion was the existing venue was better than relocating.

The team stayed. The venue was polished up. Attendance rose.

Aspire has helped build over a $1 billion worth of athletic facilities. We recommend you find these things out from your fans before the construction process begins:

  • Who is coming right now (demographically and psycho-graphically)?
  • Who are the fans that are not coming? Why are they not coming?
  • How many of the existing fans would be willing to make a multi-year commitment and for how many tickets?
  • What ticket price and/or donation level would they be prepared to pay?
  • Do they prefer to sit on the field, on the floor, or next to the glass?
  • What do they want to eat pre and post-game?

Only after these studies are conducted and analyzed should you talk to architects about how big (or small) of a facility you need and the specific amenities to be included.

The direct involvement of all stakeholders is critical in determining the price point for all premium amenities.

Have in-depth and frequent conversations with fans and big donors. Leverage early discussions with customers who are going to buy premium tickets and use the amenities to drive funding and the return on investment.

Your architect has to know whether the premium section should be courtside, or on-field bunker suites. Do your customers enjoy sit-down dining or a buffet? What about the number of soft seats or high top tables?

Make sure the contract with the architect requires them to be flexible and adjust drawings during the conceptual design phase. Too often, even the most experienced architects have their thinking limited by their past experiences. Today’s fan demands a different experience than the fan five years ago.

It is vital to have the confidence and momentum that comes from large numbers of early commitments, (typically at least 50% of all premium amenity seating and donor/ sponsor placement opportunities being “locked up”). Only then can you go public.

Once you get the simple renderings and drawings of what you will be offering, then the pre-sale campaign can be launched.

“If you build it, they will come,” is the signature line from the movie “Field of Dreams.” That is not always true. If you build it or fix it up, they will come, but only if your research is solid.

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