Legends Will Sell Missouri Premium

Firm to market suites and club seats in Faurot Field’s new south end zone

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: June 5, 2018

A rendering shows suites and clubs being built as part of the south end zone project at the University of Missouri's Faurot Field. (Populous)

The University of Missouri has signed a deal with Legends to sell premium seats that are part of upgrades to the south end zone at Columbia’s Faurot Field.

The $98 million renovation, designed by Populous, covers 16 new suites, 1,200 club seats and a field-level club accessible to 750 members regardless of seat location.

The improvements are set to open for the 2019 season, giving Legends its “shortest runway” to date for selling premium seats. It has worked on similar projects for the University of Oklahoma, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Louisville and the University of Southern California, according to Mike Behan, Legends’ vice president of sales.

“It’s a little bit shorter than we’ve done in the past, but from an inventory and demand standpoint, and what we saw from the market study, we feel confident that we’ll get into a good spot by fall 2019,” Behan said.

Legends has been dialed into the Missouri project for several years through CSL International, its sister company, which did the market research for both the south end zone upgrades and the east side expansion that opened in 2014.

Legends appointed Dan Boswell as general manager to lead the Missouri project on campus. For three years, Boswell sold premium seats for Legends at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. In addition, Boswell, a University of Nebraska graduate, worked three years in donor relations for his alma mater’s athletic department.

Boswell and his staff will focus on finding new donors as an entry point to buy premium seats. The end zones are typically less desirable locations to watch football. As a result, premium seat retrofits in those areas cost less compared with suites and club seats along the sidelines, making it a more affordable option for first-time buyers and donors.

In general, it’s the continuation of a trend Legends first observed during the sales process at Oklahoma and Louisville.

In Norman alone, Behan said, new buyers made up one-third of total buyers of premium seats for Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium’s south end zone expansion completed in 2016. Two-thirds of all buyers stepped up to join the Sooner Club, a group of OU’s biggest donors.

At Faurot Field, the field level club, an indoor/outdoor setting, is one example of designing to attract younger graduates so they can get a taste of the premium experience in college sports. The football team will pass through the club on its way to the field in a hospitality space that project officials expect to be a high-energy environment on game days.

It’s a design feature that started at NFL facilities such as AT&T Stadium, which opened in 2009. Missouri experienced the club layout during its appearance in the 2014 Cotton Bowl at the Dallas Cowboys’ venue, said Tim Hickman, Missouri’s deputy athletic director.

“That [design] stuck with us for the last few years,” Hickman said. “Fans have told us they want to interact with the team. It’s an experience you can’t have watching the game on TV.”

The trend has trickled down to college venues. Five years ago, the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium opened 20 patio suites in the east end as part of a major expansion. One year later, Mississippi State opened the Gridiron Club, a premium hospitality space in the north end zone connected to seats upstairs in the bowl.

This coming season, Louisville debuts a dozen field level suites, which are among $55 million in upgrades to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Legends sold all those suites, priced at $45,000 a year plus the cost of season tickets, within two months of kicking off the sales campaign.

In Missouri, apart from the local community, Legends will focus on finding new buyers from the Southeastern Conference school’s strong alumni base in Kansas City and St. Louis, two bigger markets within game-day driving distance of Columbia.

“Specifically, we see a market like St. Louis, where this might fill a void from a football standpoint” now that the NFL’s Rams have moved to Los Angeles, he said.

Legends is initially selling the 16 new Show Me Suites, which are priced at $40,000 to $45,000 annually, for multiyear terms. The exact number of years has not been determined, Behan said.

Those buyers must make a $100,000 capital gift on top of the yearly suite fee, plus the cost of season tickets. This year, football season tickets cost $288 to $379, according to the Missouri athletics website.

Price points for the Touchdown Club, the name of the field-level club, and the Show Me Club, the traditional midlevel club space, have not been determined.

Because of the relatively short period to sell premium, Legends decided not to build a preview center to showcase the new seating products. Instead, the agency will convert the existing suite at Faurot Field closest to overlooking the construction site into a temporary showroom equipped with renderings and other marketing materials, Behan said.

Legends also plans to organize a series of game-day tailgate parties for prospective buyers, events which had great success at Notre Dame, he said.

“In 90 days, we’ll have our best preview center: a stadium full of fans,” Behan said.

  • by Don Muret
  • Published: June 5, 2018