Stars president Jeff Cogen understands the common dilemma confronting his team’s best corporate customers.
They want to keep their company’s season tickets yet face an economic tsunami that’s brought increased public and government scrutiny, potential layoffs and uncertainty about the future.
Cogen relies on the promotional instincts that led him to give away a car at each game while trying to revitalize Detroit Red Wings attendance in the 1980s. He might offer the company a deal on seats if it will move its location slightly. Or he’ll add money for food and drink. Or even toss in tickets for an employee outing. Now more than ever, it’s about offering value.
Cogen and the Stars aren’t alone. In ways big and small, the recession has underscored the importance of corporate America to Dallas’ professional sports. The Cowboys, Rangers, Mavericks and Stars have scrambled to retain and reward their best customers – businesses that purchase suites and high-dollar tickets and, in good times, renew at season’s end.
One sign of the times is actually the lack of a sign. No corporate logo will grace the new $1.1 billion Cowboys stadium when it opens this summer despite predictions that a naming rights deal would exceed $20 million a year.
While Dallas has weathered the economic downturn better than other cities, its four major pro teams have been forced to be inventive.
While the average fan remains important, so do businesses, said Andrew Silverman, the Rangers’ executive vice president for sales.
“We can’t survive without the corporate client,” Silverman said. “Any sports team – the Mavericks, the Cowboys, the Rangers, the Stars, all of us – we need that corporate dollar. Obviously, it’s hugely important.”