Sports talk

Execs field questions and comments about their fan bases at a Business Partners Roundtable.


Three of the most recognizable leaders of sports franchises in the Northeast exchanged tips on how they carry the ball to exceed the expectations of even their most diehard fans during a Business Partners Roundtable held at NJPAC on March 31.


The panel, titled Sports & Entertainment: Standing Out in a Crowded Market, covered issues unique to a business that defines athletics through – among other platforms – broadcast and social media, off-site betting, video gaming, and live presentation. Scott Soshnick, a reporter and columnist for Bloomberg News, moderated the discussion shared by Marc de Grandpre, General Manager of the New York Red Bulls; Neil Glat, President of the New York Jets; and Scott O’Neil, CEO of the New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center and Philadelphia 76ers.


Strategies for better understanding and responding to fans’ needs are the top priorities, according to the guest speakers, who identified escapism and community experience as their sweet spots. While exploiting new technologies in marketing is vital, they noted, few gadgets can replace the energy of sharing the “tribal inner arena experience,” and returning home with souvenirs and memories.


Supervision of content and storytelling about teams and players has proven a balancing act for franchises as more high-profile athletes have developed their own following. However, all panelists agreed that authentic messaging and branding about what’s going down in the locker room or anecdotes about players’ lives and interests have caused a welcome sea change in how they advertise or talk about their clubs.  


Courting the next generation of team rooters is a constant in the business, although young fans are frequently made by catching the enthusiasm from their families. De Grandpre pointed to Red Bulls soccer camps with team coaches as a way to foster a love for the sport, while Glat noted that memberships in kids’ clubs and first-game certificates were just as valuable as video games “because they remember when they became a fan.”


In remarks concluding an audience Q&A, NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber revisited the panelists’ emphasis on responding in relevant ways to the tastes of New Jersey’s diverse population. “Their sense of community can’t be underestimated and deserves applause,” he said.


The Business Partners Roundtable, which is attended by leaders of major corporations and small business owners in support of NJPAC, was sponsored by PNC Bank and included a breakfast funded by J. Fletcher Creamer & Son.


April 3, 2017