Mar 7 2014, 5:56pm CST | by Forbes
March is upon us, which means that basketball fans are getting their game faces on for what may be most exciting three weeks in sports. Those three weeks will, of course, culminate with the Final Four, and a new collegiate basketball champion. Final Four tickets at AT&T Stadium in Dallas will be a hot item come April and may be more expensive than the current average price for an all-session strip of $1,083. Individual semi-final and final sessions are going for around $680 each. While that’s big dollars, fans that plan to attend can take some comfort in knowing that they’ll also have a chance to be part of one of the biggest free music festivals in the country, headlined by Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen will play a free concert Sunday night as part of the NCAA’s March Madness Music Festival, a three-day music festival that marks perhaps the most ambitious pre-event event ever.
Amidst the increased competition from screens, both big and small, tangential events surrounding major sports events have become the norm. In years past, the Final Four or Daytona 500 would by themselves be enough. However, to compete with all of the bells, whistles, camera angels and inside-the-game features that TV offers (to mention nothing of cost), there needs to be more to get people up off of their couches. This years Daytona 500 featured a pre-race concert by Luke Bryan, who is one of the hottest live touring acts in the country. Titled the ‘Daytona 500 Budwesier Pre-Race Show’, it also featured the Zac Brown Band, Lenny Kravitz, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban and Bon Jovi. Unlike the March Madness Music Festival, which will take place in downtown Dallas, Luke Bryan’s show was inside of The Daytona International Speedway, and could be seen by anyone with Sprint FanZone access. For people that already had tickets, a ticket to the FanZone cost $99, which is about one-third of the cost for Luke Bryan tickets on his current tour. Following Daytona’s lead, another racing mainstay, The Indianapolis 500 will also have a pre-race concert, this one featuring Jason Aldean. Billed as ‘Firestone Presents Jason Aldean at the Indy 500,’ Aldean will be headlining something called ‘The Inaugural Legends Day Concert’. Tickets to the show are available for $30. The average price for Jason Aldean tickets on his current tour is $300, which makes the Indianapolis 500 deal almost too good to pass up—which is exactly the point. The next cheapest options for an Aldean show is Houston Rodeo tickets next Tuesday, which will cost $122 on the secondary market.
As for Springsteen’s show and the March Madness festival, the concerts will be held outdoors where Reunion Arena used to sit and be open to 30,000 to 40,000 fans on a first-come-first-serve basis. The average price for Bruce Springsteen tickets to his upcoming High Hopes tour is $261, with the most expensive show at Mohegan Sun averaging $425. There’s no question that Springsteen’s show will be added incentive for potential attendees, as it will now serve as the official launch for the U.S. leg of his tour. In addition to drawing fans to the gate, however, there’s an even more lucrative rationale for these pre-event performances: brand activation and sponsorship dollars. Bruce Springsteen’s show will be part of the Capital One JamFest on Sunday, which will be proceeded by the Coke Zero Countdown on Saturday and the AT&T Block Party on Friday. The Coke Zero Countdown will feature Tim McGraw and the Killers while the AT&T Block Party will feature Jason Aldean–the same Jason Aldean who will be presented by Bridgestone a month later in Indianapolis.
The result of all these pre events is a marketer’s dream, with enough activation to keep fans commercially and artistically engaged for several days. It also represents the opportunity for much bigger sponsorship packages that touch fans watching the game in the stadium, at home in front of their TVs as well as outdoors in the days leading up to the actual event. In business speak, it’s a win-win-win: The NCAA gets paid; fans get a bunch of free memories; and brands get an opportunity create the kind of affinity that could last as long as a lifetime, and at least for the weekend. Amidst all the jamming, dancing and consumption, the NCAA just needs to make sure that people don’t forget that there’s a game to play Monday night.
Source: Forbes Business
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