Jared Kozinn, Senior Director of Business Development and Premium Seating for the Detroit Lions, discusses the new and updated premium seat offerings at the renovated Ford Field.
Earlier this NFL season, ALSD Editorial Director Jared Frank visited Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, to explore the $100 million re-imagination of the venue.
After the renovation, a multitude of new options are available for Detroit companies, large and small, to achieve their B2B objectives.
Please enjoy below the edited transcript of our interview with Jared Kozinn, Senior Director of Business Development and Premium Seating at the Lions. Jared and Jared, Frank and Kozinn, run through all the elements of the stadium’s updated premium portfolio.
Frank: So how about this, how about we start with what were the pre-existing conditions? What was your premium portfolio previous to this massive project?
Kozinn: Limited in terms of product diversity. So we had traditional general admission seats. We had traditional club seats. We had traditional suites. We had a lot of suites, but the experience, aside from proximity to the 50-yardline and maybe height, the experience was pretty similar all throughout the suites.
In 2015, we launched our first foray into a new product with the MGM Grand Detroit Tunnel Club. That was really kind of a tester to be able to see what the market could bear from both a pricing perspective and what the engagement would be with a new product.
It proved to be very successful, and it led to decisions that were made in this renovation, which really expanded the scope of our products.
Frank: And so what are the new products that you're introducing? Can you give us a brief rundown of what the new product portfolio is?
Kozinn: Sure. I'll start with the suites. As I mentioned before, the design element of the suites was very similar throughout, so our differentiators were size and proximity to the 50-yardline. Now we've actually got different experiences, depending where your suite is. We've done something pretty unique with what I think are some of the best suites in our building.
“[20's suite holders have] plated china, silverware, glassware, amenities that didn't exist in Ford Field space before. And with that, they have a dedicated attendant that's a trained mixologist, so we can ... provide a heightened level of service.”
– Jared Kozinn, Detroit Lions
On the south side, I'd start with our 20's Suites. We're actually sitting in one of them right now. So you've got kind of that vintage, repurposed, kind of that old Detroit feel that's also a cool modern look. It also fits with our existing building, which is always a challenge of a renovation product.
As you can see in here, you've got plated china, silverware, glassware, amenities that didn't exist in Ford Field space before. And with that, they have a dedicated attendant that's a trained mixologist, so we can do things like Moscow mules that really provide a heightened level of service and an experience that didn't exist previously here at Ford Field.
We call them the 20's Suites for a couple reasons: they're in between the 20-yardlines, so they signify that they're our best locations. 20 is also an iconic number for the Detroit Lions. Barry Sanders. Also Billy Sims and Lem Barney. So we've had a lot of great players wear number 20. We thought that was very appropriate, both with the Detroit Lions players, and also geographically.
Outside of those, you have our Redzone Suites. The finishings are a little different. You wouldn't notice the hardwood floors in there. They're going to have paper and plastic silverware similar to the experience previously at Ford Field. But that allowed us to actually have a differentiator in products.
And it's been interesting. We've had clients that come in that were in Redzone suites, and they say ‘It's really important for us to have the plated china and have a better location.’ And then we've had other clients from a price differentiator say, ‘You know what. We're actually more comfortable on the exterior.’
So it's been really interesting to see how clients have self-selected. I don't know that one is more preferred over the other, but they've really been evenly distributed. And now we have a more diverse product on the south side suites.
We also have a diverse product on the north side. Previous to the Ford Field renovation, we did not have a kitchen over on the north side, and so we were really limited with the premium experience, especially from the food and beverage that we could provide in the north side suites. Also, all of those suites were just large. They were the same size units.
There was no product diversity over there. So now we have three distinct products over there.
We've got the Miller Lite Taproom, which is a shared, communal, social space. Really a non-premium product, but a very popular product.
Then we've got the Gridiron Suites. Those are our traditional larger suites. I mentioned it was kind of a repurposed, vintage look and feel on this side. I would say it's more modern and bold on that side. So it's Detroit. But it's Detroit done in a very different way. And it appeals to a very different clientele.
Then we've got a new product over there called the Plante Moran Terrace Suites. We almost called them mini suites when they were built. That's kind of their look and feel. But there's a shared bar. Beer and wine is included and shared hospitality.
“We've got clients that are looking to have a shared social experience ... And then we have other clients that really prefer the traditional suite experience. Well now we have both.”
– Jared Kozinn, Detroit Lions
We've got clients that are looking to have a shared social experience. They want to be networking with other companies. They want to be out and about, and be very visible. And then we have other clients that really prefer the traditional suite experience. Well now we have both.
It's really changed our sales process because previously, we were trying to fit a dynamic clientele into GA seats, club seats, or suites. But now that we have a product diversity in a portfolio, we're really consultants. We're really going through what products we think are going to fit our clients the best, and they're really self-selecting. And it's really been evenly distributed.
I was asked by our concessionaire when we were going through this renovation, ‘Do you anticipate selling to Fortune 500 companies the 20 Suites?’
And I said, no, I think regardless of vertical or industry, it's based on preference and design and feel and how they want to entertain.
Frank: Have you been able to attract new customers into this building because of the new products you've built?
Kozinn: Absolutely, and I think part of any renovation is creating awareness that you're actually having a renovation. This is a situation where the Little Caesars Arena really helped us. A lot of clients over the last 18 months toured the Red Wings preview center, and they've seen what the Red Wings are doing, and they've almost been conditioned to going on these tours to see the space and learn about what's happening. It made the conversation easy for us to set up tours, meetings, hard hat tours.
“Everybody that came through here got a hard hat tour, got a little experience within the premium experience and a souvenir to take home.”
– Jared Kozinn, Detroit Lions
We ordered several thousand hard hats, so everybody that came through here got a hard hat tour, got a little experience within the premium experience and a souvenir to take home. We had multiple meetings every day.
The suite that we're sitting in right now was one of the hubs for us. This suite was actually completed in time for our last regular season game of 2016. So we hosted prospects and clients in here and really showed off the space. We've had numerous events and prospect meetings in the space that they got a taste of what Ford Field was going to look like in time for the opening of 2017.
Frank: Are there any notable business categories that have demonstrated an interest in these new products?
Kozinn: I wouldn't say that there's one specific business category, but the typical categories that you're seeing growth in general – Financial Services, Tech, Construction, Commercial Real Estate Development, Law Firms. I don't know that you've seen a particular change in terms of the verticals, but we've had more success selling to a lot more of those companies because of the new products.
Frank: And lastly, one thing we've heard about is the need for these spaces to feel Detroit-centric. Why was that important to your team?
Kozinn: There were parts of the stadium that didn't feel particularly Detroit-centric, and they didn't feel particularly football- or Lions-centric. One of the things that's important about this renovation is we wanted to make sure our fans felt connected to what's actually happening on the playing field.
I don't look at our competition so much as the Tigers, Red Wings, or Pistons, but that at-home experience, especially when you talk about premium products. So we wanted to make people feel more connected and feel like they were at a football game and that they were in Detroit.
Rossetti, in partnership with us, did a tremendous job to make sure that every square foot of this building, both our premium spaces and our non-premium spaces, feel Lions-centric and Detroit-centric.
Learn more from Jared Kozinn at the 2018 ALSD Conference and Tradeshow in Atlanta, Georgia, June 24-27.