New team headquarters and practice training facilities continue to pop up across the venue marketplace. Construction in this segment of the industry has gotten so plentiful that the ALSD devoted an entire innovation lab to the topic during its 2017 Sports Venue Design & Build Forum.
The Star in Frisco, Texas, the new home base for the Dallas Cowboys, has garnered much deserved attention in the last 12 months, but it’s an antecedent NFL facility that kicked off the trend and continues to innovate behind-the-scenes experiences that connect high-value clients more closely with the organization.
Renovated in 2013, Halas Hall, team headquarters for the Chicago Bears, set the tone for the current movement towards turning these practice structures into business centers and non-gameday revenue drivers.
“Even though it’s been four years, we’re still getting our feet wet into how to leverage [Halas Hall] and balance new revenue opportunities with the core business,” says Adam Kellner, Director of Suite Sales and Service for the Chicago Bears.
The assets to be leveraged at Halas Hall include a practice viewing suite, event center, and broadcast studio. In total, the facility now hosts 250 events a year.
Practice Viewing Suite
A 30-person suite sits at the 50-yardline of one of the three practice fields on the Halas Hall campus. Sponsors, suite partners, season ticket holders, and community relations guests utilize the suite and adjacent meeting rooms throughout the season and in the offseason during OTA’s and mini camps.
The experience includes an afternoon watching practice, a catered lunch, and a chance to visit with Bears’ football operations personnel and occasionally with other team personalities and alumni, including legendary head coach Mike Ditka who made an appearance during an event earlier this season.
“To have something like this [practice viewing suite] be so first-class has been invaluable as we leverage our partner relationships and let people into Halas Hall,” Kellner says. “It’s all about letting people come in and feel special. More and more, the expectations of your partners or your sponsors or your season ticket holders can’t just be the games. It has to be more than that.”
The entry point for the event center at Halas Hall is referred to as the Midway. Its design allows for copious amounts of natural light, providing a warm welcome to guests. Digital signage also welcomes companies and guests, displaying their names upon arrival.
“More and more, the expectations of your partners or your sponsors or your season ticket holders can’t just be the games.”
– Adam Kellner, Chicago Bears
A wall of memorabilia, the organization’s four pillars (Greatness, Passion, Tradition, Gameday), and a collage of historical photos that form the Bears logo provide great backdrops for photos and Instagram posts, especially when the Bears roll out the ’85 Super Bowl trophy.
Heading down one flight of stairs is the Hall of Champions, an additional pre-function space with a museum of photos and interactive displays to engage guests before going into an event.
The event center is used for everything from corporate meetings to receptions to viewing parties to fireside chats with team alumni. The space accommodates all configurations from rounds to classroom style. The maximum capacity is 150 people with highboy tables.
The Bears partner with a local catering company to manage and operate the event space. The team has also added to its payroll an events person, whose specific role is to coordinate all details for events at Halas Hall.
The organization’s original intention for the event center was to be a competitor with local hotels and convention areas, where anyone could book an event at Halas Hall. The team has mainly focused on events exclusively for its partners, but it is slowly starting to open it up the space for rent to parties who are not current partners of the Bears.
A state-of-the-art broadcast studio sits adjacent to the event center, separated by sound-proof glass. The Bears produce their online video and radio content from the studio, and can do so concurrently with an event.
Often, the content being filmed in the studio is incorporated into the function in the event center. So suite partners and sponsors can be the studio audience, meet and greet alumni players and guests of the show, and then host their reception in the event space.
For an additional amenity, suite partners and sponsors can access the broadcast studio to film their own content for their own business needs.
Added Value, Not Added Cost
The Bears leverage all of their Halas Hall spaces as added-value and upsell opportunities, rather than sell those experiences à la carte.
“How we look at [Halas Hall] for our premium customers is it’s more of an added-value opportunity and a relationship builder,” says Kellner. “My belief is certainly to use these assets as a way to build the relationships and build the return that clients can realize, especially when you talk about suites and how people are using them, and broadening that relationship beyond just ten games, but really 365 days a year.”
Learn more insider tips for how to drive revenue from your team headquarters from ALSD member Adam Kellner.