Everything Must Go

Later this month, the physical contents of the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit will be auctioned off in a 2-day sale. Everything from the goal posts, to the scoreboard, to the public toilets will be available for purchase. Fans will have the option to purchase one seat or a section of four – prices will vary according to which option they choose; they can even designate their preferred seat number, for an additional premium.

In the case of the Silverdome, a commercial property firm bought the stadium in an effort to redevelop the site. Gaining revenue from an old stadium is not exactly a new trend in the industry. Teams and property owners have been able to capitalize on these old properties to an extent.

The best example of a team utilizing modern marketing efforts and incorporating licensing, autographs, and collectible components into the sale of a stadium’s assets, would be that of the St. Louis Cardinals and the sale of Busch Stadium II. The Cardinals employed a layered approach to the sale of the assets prior to the stadium’s demolition. Seats were sold directly to fans through a pre-order system for fixed prices, and then delivered directly to fans’ doors via UPS. The team partnered with New York based Lelands, the oldest Sports Auction house in the country, on a live sale that generated approximately $1 million in sales of stadium memorabilia. Next, a live event, known as Fredbird’s Garage Sale, allowed fans to literally shop in a venue downtown and purchase everything on-site – from a stadium turnstile, to a piece of the dugout bench. Finally, the team incorporated MLB licensees, such as Highland Mint, to create collectibles featuring everything from infield dirt from the stadium, to commemorative coins.

Surely, imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, as the New York Yankees employed a very similar strategy as the old Yankee Stadium reached its final years. Partnering with an existing team sponsor in Steiner Sports, the stadium’s assets were also deployed across a range of distribution channels and products.

With stadiums such as Candlestick Park and Turner Field sitting empty at present, the blueprint has been laid for forthcoming asset sales, a la the Silverdome this month.