IMG Learfield Joint Venture Adds 3 Schools to Roster

SBJ Article:

The joint venture between IMG College and Learfield picked up new business at Boise State, Oregon and Washington State.

IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions has won the rights to sell and market tickets at three universities in recent weeks, giving the company eight new deals in the last 10 months.

Most recently, the joint venture between IMG College and Learfield picked up new business at Boise State, Oregon and Washington State. The addition of those three schools gives IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions ticket-selling rights with 37 collegiate partners, including institutions, conferences and the NCAA.

The new deals with Oregon and Washington State from the Pac-12 are particularly intriguing because Rob Sine, president of IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions, left the conference last year to assume oversight of the joint venture. In fact, Sine helped the Pac-12 start its own ticket-selling business before leaving to join the IMG-Learfield venture.

“We are proud to work with these three universities to enhance ticket sales and revenues,” Sine said in a prepared statement. “As our business continues to grow, we remain focused on leveraging the strength of our joint venture to provide best practices and support for each school individually as the industry changes.”

These ticketing arrangements call for IMG Learfield to install sales teams that range in size from five staffers up to 10 on each campus. Rutgers’ deal is an exception, with 17 people, because of its unique arrangement.

Some schools, like Oregon and Washington State, have attempted to create their own outbound sales teams before deciding to outsource.

“With any revenue stream, we are always examining our best long-term growth alternative,” said Craig Pintens, Oregon’s senior associate athletic director for marketing and public relations. “We evaluated multiple outsource companies and even some very creative consulting solutions. We’re confident we will not only achieve revenue growth, but also retain fans at a higher rate.”

The IMG-Learfield joint venture, founded in 2012, started as strictly ticket sales but under Sine has expanded to include donations and, in some cases, sponsorship sales, if the multimedia rights holder is working with IMG Learfield. Both IMG College and Learfield own sponsorship sales rights at these schools.

In addition to those areas, IMG Learfield also is working with some schools, such as Purdue, to sell premium seating, which is new for the company.

About 10 of the college clients also are working with the joint venture on mining and aggregating a deeper set of fan analytics to help ticket sales and fundraising. At some schools, they work with IMG Learfield to bring in a third-party technology provider or they hire staffers with the expertise and experience.

“They want to work with us and assist us in becoming better analysts of fan data, which in turn will elevate our entire marketing efforts,” Pintens said.

By Michael Smith