4th and Goal, Where's Jack Nicholson? 

4th and Goal, Where's Jack Nicholson?

Gabrielle D'Ayr for SBS

The biggest problem facing investors who would consider investing money in an LA team is how to make their team successful in less than 60 seconds. Some people don't think that can happen. LA is not a football city, it's a basketball city, and really, it's just a Laker city. L.A. has managed to chase two NFL teams away. To which I reply, "I'm sorry, how many years were the Rams in LA? 49 years? And yes, the Raiders left too, but only after 12 years of calling L.A. home and attracting a loyal contingent of fans that are still Raider fans even after their spontaneous departure. L.A. can most definitely support a football team - if it's done right.

We've explored over the last couple of weeks the issues of where and who. Both those issues aside, if there is no solid marketing plan, the project will fall flat on its face. The smart investor will hire the best marketing firm LA has to offer and make sure they can deliver what LA fans want and need. Keeping in mind, of course that there are two types of fans there: So Cals (native Californians)and the LA Crowd (transplants).

If we start with the premise of moving a competitive team (you'll recall my pick was the New Orleans Saints. That could change if the Saints' first game against the Seahawks is any indication of their season to come), the first order of business is getting fans to the game. The stadium is a huge part of that. Were a new stadium built, people would come just to see the new stadium. Over the past couple years; about 10 teams had a new stadium built for them (or renovated, in the case of Lambeau Field). Statistics have shown that the general public finds a new stadium has enough draw to go and see it "just because". Give them a good game to watch as well, and you're off to a good start.

It is still my contention, however, that NFL wants the LA Coliseum to house a new Los Angeles team. And in general, what the NFL wants the NFL gets. Personally, I think it's the best choice for quite a few reasons, Location, Location, Location being one of them. There are some things that worry me. I think we can get around the "shiny new stadium" fairly easily. I saw pictures for the previous renovation proposal and wow. That was something. The concern I have, which Commissioner Tagliabue shared, is parking. And really the problem is finding a way to work with the city. Parking needs to be close to the Coliseum and there needs to be a lot of it.

My other concern is naming rights. In the grand scheme in my mind's eye, I saw a group of private investors going in together on a stadium and relying on the revenues from other events at the stadium as well as a substantial sum from Sony or one of those big entertainment companies that are dotted all over LA. The potential problem here is that the Coliseum is publicly owned. Although the government contributes no money to its upkeep (the Charter states that it will be funded solely by the revenue it generates), a group of private investors may not have the right to sell naming rights to Universal Studios, say. Unless they do something similar to what 3Com did with Candlestick Park. Officially, it was 3Com at Candlestick Point. So maybe they could call it Universal Stadium at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and just put Universal Stadium on all the promotional material? Although, I think Sony Stadium has a better ring to it. I hope they're reading this.

Let's assume that it's a perfect world (meaning I got my way) and the Saints are going to LA and will be living in their newly renovated Sony Stadium Coliseum, complete with cool sports memorabilia and a kids play area. And can we please have many, many women's bathrooms with an inexhaustible supple of TP? Is that too much to ask? Anyway, I digress. Plenty of parking is also included in this little whimsy of mine. What do they need to do?

Some specifics:

Low ticket prices - I mean from like $100 for 50yd line - Field Level to $15 for the nose bleeds. Make it an introductory offer so they realize that the tickets will go up and not be surprised when it happens.

Season tickets - do a promotion on that as well; if they buy the second year up front, they'll get them 25% cheaper.

Box/Club Seats - offer them to all the big companies; especially talent agencies with the understanding, of course, whichever stars then give the tickets to will get a certain amount of camera time. If the boxes aren't selling, consider donating one to the Boy Scouts or the March of Dimes and make it a tax write off as well as endearing yourself to the community.

Guest Cheerleader - There's a lot of hotties in LA; have a raffle and let 10 lucky girls be guest cheerleaders and send them home with pom-poms.

T-Shirt Giveaway - For the inaugural game; give away team shirts to everyone. After the first game, scale down and just shoot some into the crowd. Everyone loves free stuff.

Famous Guests - You're in LA! Milk it and have the best and the brightest doing the National Anthem and halftime shows.

Advertising - Radio spots, autograph rallies, send half the team to a Laker game and make sure they get on camera, put the owner on Sport Center's hot seat, the standard stuff. Any good marketing guy can point you in the right direction.

Have good vendor food and lots of beer stands.

Now all that is for the fans. That's to get them in the door and keep them coming back. The So Cals will want a team that they can care about (and will win). The LA crowd will want to see and be seen (and a team that will win).

The other side of this is the plan. You have to have a plan. A good example of having a plan and following it is the Houston Texans. You know those guys that kicked Miami's butt and broke their Season Opener record? That team that we all thought was going to LA? These guys who, starting their 2nd season, are already worth almost $800 million dollars. They're one of the reasons that possible controversy about naming rights bothers me. Reliant paid $300 million for 30 years. That's almost half of what owner Robert McNair paid for his team. The Texans went 4 and 12 in there opening season and I know what you're thinking, but I've got one word for you guys - Bengals. These guys are a great model for LA to look at. There are some smart business folk behind these scenes.

If you follow the history, the NFL did everything in its power to give LA the 32nd expansion team. Houston's McNair had a plan and had financial backing and then had to wait while the Expansion Committee delayed their decision, voted to give LA more time, and then finally award the team to them. LA's mistake? Never addressing the financial issue the NFL begged them to resolve. The NFL is a business after all; it's not going to do this for free. Houston had all their ducks in a row. They were the first to bring their proposal to the table, received a pat on the head from the NFL and within two days of that had a commitment from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo to push for a new stadium. A year later, they had the financial commitment in cement while the NFL was still fiddling in the hopes that LA and Mike Ovitz would get their stuff together.

The team was awarded officially October 6th 1999. From that moment on, they did everything in the public eye. They involved the community, had pep rally's and naming contests and kept everyone informed each step of the way. By the time the Texans played their first game, there were already old friends to most Houston families.

Now I will admit to the Los Angeles crowd being a tad more cynical, but we're giving them a team that will kick butt and take names. One of the reasons I vote no on an expansion team is the time it takes to get a team to win. I mean the Cowboys have Bill Parcells now and still no one expects them to be amazing for at least 2 seasons. Where Houston has embraced the newest member of their community, you're gonna have to impress LA. But first things first. You need a place for the team to play and you need to pay for it.

Oh and Psssssst! Don't forget the Corporate Sponsors!

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Sun Oct 16, 2005 12:41 am MST by Lakers Tickets


Sun Jun 13, 2004 12:28 am MST by Jordan Anderson

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