The XFL has tabbed Elevate Sports Ventures – a JV between the S.F. 49ers, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Ticketmaster, Live Nation and Oak View Group – to design, implement and manage database marketing and ticket sales strategies for the league office and each of its eight clubs; the league has also hired Elevate to oversea day-to-day ticketing operations within each market. Elevate CEO Al Guido said that his company’s efforts would focus on “engaging prospective fans through social and digital media” and selling those individuals on the XFL’s reimagined vision for “what the guest experience inside of a football venue should look like.” The 2-year deal between the league and Elevate extends through the XFL’s inaugural season in 2020 and its sophomore season in ‘21.
Howie Long-Short: XFL president Jeffrey Pollack said that the league intends on improving the game-day experience by delivering “affordable quality football” (no ticket pricing information has been released to date) and by “opening up points of access that bring the avid fan closer to the game.” Pollack declined to disclose any specifics, so it’s too early to tell if the XFL truly intends on reimagining what the in-stadium experience looks like, but a conversation with commissioner Oliver Luck last month indicated that the league is willing (at least on the TV side) to bring fans places they haven’t been before (think: locker room for pre-game speech).
Selling tickets to a start-up league where fans have no allegiance to the teams is never an easy endeavor – which is why Elevate was hired in the first place – but the AAF’s failure to make it through the first season won’t make their job any easier. AAF season ticket holders have been told they won’t be receiving refunds for home games scheduled after the league folded, so it’s reasonable to assume that prospective buyers may hesitate before making the commitment to purchase season tickets to another start-up football league. McMahon has a $500 million war chest and Pollack has guaranteed that the XFL would “finish its first season”, but that’s unlikely to sway skeptics; there’s no doubt Charlie Ebersol would have told them the same thing.
Six of the XFL’s eight teams will be based in cities with warm or mild winter weather. New York and Washington D.C. on the other hand maintain average February temperatures of 42 degrees and 47 degrees, respectively. Pollack insists that football fans enjoy the cold weather and said he has no doubt fans will come out “in a bit of snow or if it’s chilly.” He cited the Green Bay Packers as a club that’s “been managed successfully in a pretty cold climate.” He’s not wrong, the Packers are among the NFL’s model franchises, but there’s 100 years of tradition there and there is no other team in the city to compete with for attention. The XFL is going to find that New York and Washington aren’t Green Bay – tickets for NFL games in those cities are plentiful come December if the home teams aren’t playing for playoff spots. Of course, the XFL doesn’t need to convince 70,000 fans to show up every week. Commissioner Luck told us that the league is basing its budget on being able to sell 20,000 tickets/game.
Fan Marino: Elevate’s ticketing sales strategy will leverage insights from various data sources to ensure the league is marketing to every prospective fan “inside of each of the local markets”. Guido said the company would “work with the venues to market to their existing patrons, with Ticketmaster to reach their existing client base of football fans and we’ll target those who have already expressed an interest in receiving information about the league.”
Guido says that part of the league’s strategy to develop fan bases within each market is to invest in and engage with youth groups, flag football and tackle football organizations. “Those are the people we’re going after. If we provide the next generation of sports fans with access to the players and the tremendous coaches we have, we can develop loyalty to the organization.”
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