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Sports biz: Going out of biz

Stewart Schley //December 4, 2014//

Sports biz: Going out of biz

Stewart Schley //December 4, 2014//

Ten years ago, I wrote the first of what would be many “SportsBiz” columns for ColoradoBiz, examining the marketing and pricing approach adopted by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment for a newcomer on the sports scene: the Colorado Mammoth.

Tom Philand of Kroenke Sports explained his belief that with the right in-stadium vibe and brand persona, the new professional lacrosse team could be a big draw for young people and families. Thus, he priced the tickets inexpensively, figuring his competition wasn’t so much other sports events as it was a night at the movies. It turns out he was right, as the Mammoth led the National Lacrosse League in home attendance twice in the last five years, including last season.

That was just the first of a long string of insights provided by people who make a living in the sports industry in and around Colorado. Over the years people in the biz have patiently explained for this column the whys and wherefores of ticket pricing, stadium amenities, game scheduling, golf course economics, suite sales, breakthroughs in sports medicine, why there’s a rugby stadium in Glendale, and even the mechanics of a new tailgate barbecue grill.

Beyond the obvious attributes that put Colorado on the sports map – teams in each of the Big 4 sports, popular minor league franchises, Super Bowl championships, a U.S. Olympic athlete training facility, an enthusiastic college fan base and, of course, plenty of beer – some highly influential people in the game call this state their home. Here, Kroenke Sports is an admired sports management company representing an enviable business model that’s built around multi-team ownership, real estate, media interests and synergies therein. Denver is home to numerous sports agents, consultants, economic advisers and legal specialists. Klaus Obermeyer, the legendary ski apparel maven and Aspenite, celebrated his 94th birthday last December (by skiing, of course).

The list is hardly complete, but it gives at least some indication of how, mostly quietly, Colorado has risen to prominence in the sports business arena.

This is my last “SportsBiz” column, as I’m heading off to international adventures that will take me away from the market. My hope is that in small ways, over the years this column has helped shine a light on the ideas, people and companies that are doing creative things to advance sports business in the state. I’ve been privileged to watch Colorado’s sports sector grow and adjust.

With that, some parting words from the wayback machine, an excerpt from a column I wrote in 2006 about business lessons I learned from participating in sports management on a personal level, as a longtime youth baseball and softball coach. My advice to managers everywhere was this:

“Recognize talent. Find and cultivate something in every team member they can bring to the party. Then give them a chance to bring it. Just as the shy kid with the rocket arm ought to be put in a position to throw a runner out at home when it matters, the administrative assistant everybody seems to adore might just be that killer account executive you can’t seem to find after plowing through 200 resumes from And one more thing: Never, ever make the first out at third base.”

Thanks for reading.