The Indianapolis Colts closed out their first regular season at Lucas Oil Stadium this afternoon. The stadium offers an example of how teams are working to generate more dollars from sponsors while giving companies more real estate and fans more things to do inside sports venues.
Sponsors don’t just get signage anymore. That’s been true for some time, but in Indianapolis, companies’ names are connected to an actual section of Lucas Oil Stadium. The companies work with the Colts to decorate and program the areas to maximize their businesses and entertainment for fans.
There’s the Lucas Oil Gate, naturally, the Huntington Bank Gate, the hhgregg Gate and so on. The Air Tran Food Court features a first class fuselage that people can sit in. The team’s five- to eight-year sponsor contracts are worth $10 million to $12 million annually.
“We are considered a small market NFL team so a new stadium was critical for us. Based on the way the economics of the National Football League work today, we needed a stadium that was going to drive revenue,” said Peter Ward, Colts senior executive vice president. “This helps us stay competitive on the field...This allows us the opportunity to maximize our revenue.”
At the Lucas Oil Gate, there are dragsters; old-fashioned gas pumps that have LCD TVs installed in them; over-sized oil cans that also serve as stations for TVs; planes that hang from the ceiling; and a horseshoe-shaped stage for bands and TV and radio shows.
“Our goal was to create areas that could be sponsored and themed that also create points of interest for the fans. It had to work for the sponsors as well as our fans,” Ward said.
Hhgregg, a TV and appliance retailer with stores in nine states including Florida, has a 26,000-square-foot interactive fan area at the stadium’s south entrance with flat screen TVs, digital cameras and even washers and dryers on display. There’s an interactive video game in which fans can throw or kick a football across a virtual screen designed to look like Lucas Oil Stadium.
There are also six 52-inch Samsung TVs, a seating area in the shape of a horseshoe, and poles that look like goalposts. There’s a product pavilion with Electrolux appliances, including refrigerators. Everything is wrapped in hhgreg signage, but there's also signage for Electrolux, Sony and other appliance brands.
In addition, the Colts’ official appliance retailer of flat panel TVs, has sales associates working the gate entrances, handing out coupons.
“We’ve had a long-standing partnership with the Colts,” said Jeff Pearson, hhgregg vice president of marketing. “We sell a large number of flat panel TVs. All of that helps us sell TVs … Lucas Oil Stadium is going to be a place a lot of people go through in the next number of years.”