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Sports Business

Colts creativity rings cash register

August 18, 2008
KEYWORDS Sports Business

coltspowThe Indianapolis Colts sell sponsorships like Peyton Manning throws touchdown passes. A lot of the credit goes to the team’s former sales and marketing boss Ray Compton, who sold everything imaginable when the Colts racked up a lot more losses than wins.

Compton, who left the team three years ago to start his own company, passed the torch to Tom Zupancic, who has taken the Colts’ sales efforts to an even higher level. Zupancic’s right hand man in sales, Jay Souers, also deserves a lot of credit.

Today, the Colts will announce a new multi-year naming rights deal with Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance for the team’s 56th Street training complex. Sports marketers said the deal is worth as much as $1.5 million annually, putting it in the upper half in the NFL in terms of value scored from a training complex deal.

When the Colts first sold the naming right to the training complex in 2000, they were only the third team in the NFL to have such a deal. Only Dallas and Philadelphia beat them to the punch.

“This team in this market has had to be creative,” said Mark Rosentraub, former IUPUI dean and noted sports economist.

If you saw the new Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend, you saw that Zupancic and his staff picked up in the creativity department where Compton, who honed his skills marketing minor league hockey, left off. The Colts are the first NFL teams to let sponsors design and decorate themed areas as the stadium was being built. The 14 themed sponsorship areas will score the team about $18 million annually.

“This front office has learned to score in a number of ways,” Rosentraub said. “For a very long time, fostering this sort of mentality was a matter of survival. Now it’s allowing them to thrive.”
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