Recent developments with two high-profile properties in the San Francisco Bay Area feed into the hope I expressed in my last blog post. Both the San Francisco 49ers and the people organizing the bid to host the America’s Cup yacht races have talked about engaging with corporations in more sophisticated forms than what may have been the case prior to the economic downturn.
The 49ers are moving forward with grand plans for a new stadium in Santa Clara and admittedly have their work cut out for them, economically speaking. Given that the new stadium will be in the heart of the Silicon Valley, it is critical that they crack the tech sector for sponsorships and hospitality sales. Historically, tech companies are not the most active sponsors, and most regional sponsorship properties have difficulty generating much revenue from the sector. However, if a property truly engages companies in the space with their interests in mind and finds ways to integrate technology in a meaningful way, the major players will step up. Witness Cisco and the planned new Oakland A’s stadium (Cisco Field, now being planned for development in San Jose).
The 49ers are talking about making their new stadium the most technologically advanced in the country with an eye on fan experience enhancement, revenue generation and partner engagement. The organization is led by a group of young executives who seem to really get it and understand the need to talk the talk of the tech companies. They are not trying to force the tech companies to just see the value in working with a storied NFL franchise. By engaging the big corporate players on the latter’s terms, finding ways to meaningfully integrate tech products and services into the stadium experience, and extending to the larger media marketplace, the 49ers will generate much greater support from the sector. It is harder work to go in this direction but is, ultimately, the only way to generate the major sponsorships that will be needed to help cover the $800 million price tag of the new stadium. It’s exciting to see their forward-thinking approach to corporate partnerships.
I’ll provide more insights about San Francisco’s America’s Cup bid shortly, and will follow soon with some developments on the greening of Infineon Raceway.