Colts sales staff feels the heat

September 5, 2008
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groupPressure is mounting on the Indianapolis Colts as this Sunday’s season opener against the Chicago Bears looms. Yes, there’s pressure to win on the field. But there’s even more pressure to make the new $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium a financial winner for the team.

Indiana residents—who will be helping pay off the stadium for years to come—will no longer tolerate whining from team executives about how difficult it is to make ends meat in this small market town. It’s true, the NFL’s league-wide television contract brings in lots of cash for all teams, but there’s still pressure to ring up as much in-stadium revenue as possible.

Tom Zupancic, Colts senior vice president of sales and marketing, is feeling as much pressure as anyone within the organization. Maybe more. I’m pretty sure his contract isn’t guaranteed.

Zupancic’s staff scored big on its first drive, delivering a 30 percent increase in sponsorship revenue over what the team brought in at the RCA Dome. But the nearly $20 million the team tallied for in-stadium sponsorships this year doesn’t mean the Colts have maximized the potential of their spiffy new stadium. Rest assured, the dry-erase board in Zupancic’s office is full of ideas.

He’ll begin to measure the success of some of the team’s early efforts to separate fans from their cash after this Sunday. The idea of opening the stadium four hours before games has a lot more to do with driving up concession and merchandise sales than it does giving fans more time to play with the interactive displays in the stadium.

And year’s of watching the growing tailgating activity in the lots surrounding the RCA Dome gave birth to a deal the team inked with Budweiser earlier this year. After all, the Blue Crew shouldn’t be the only ones profiting from pre-game partying. The Bud Light Blue Zone inside the stadium gives upscale fans a place to party, while The Bud Zone, a 60-by-120-foot tent that includes food, beverages, promotional activities and musical entertainment, provides another option to let the good times roll.

As the season progresses, the sales and marketing staff’s game plan will no doubt be adjusted. The quality of those moves will determine who comprises the team’s roster in years to come.
  • Zup and jay Souers have done nothing except hit home runs in their department. Ok, a football analogy - scored TDs, kick off return type TDs.
  • He's not going to separate and cash from this fan. Check the economy pal. This thing is tanking fast. I've got tickets for this game but I'm selling the rest of my season tickets. I would expect many to do the same.
  • Kenny, go ahead and sell em, actually give me a call I know tons of people lining up for Colts tix. With somewhere in the range of 20,000 people on the waiting list, your tix will be absorbed immediately and whoever else wants to unload tickets for whatever reason.

    The economy might be hitting some, but not all. Not sure the economy is bad enough for you to consider buying season tickets and then selling them all after week 1, but I don't know your situation. It's a mild recession, not a depression. I will gladly have a great time at every game this season and if and when I spend some money there, then that's what happens. It's voluntary. You don't want to go to Colts games, nobody is forcing ya.

    My ticket prices actually went down and my seat view is as good if not better.
  • Kenny is yet another fast food worker out of work, and being so, everything is TANKING fast. Your interpretations of doom and gloom and things tanking are just that, YOUR INTERPRETATIONS. SO please be silent and remember, children are to be seen NOT HEARD!!!!!
  • From the number of Bears fans at the game, I'd say a lot of people sold. Cream, you might know of a ton of people wanting to buy tickets but were they willing to pay double face or more?
  • BigSlam Sam,

    There weren't nearly as many Colts fans there on Sunday as there used to be Dolphins or Patriots fans in years past. Maybe due to it being a night game and most people that can afford to go have to work the next day back in Chgo.

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