Spectra Sells Ticket Division To Learfield

Move will see Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement revert to Paciolan brand

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: June 14, 2017

The new (yet old) logo of Paciolan, which was acquired by Learfield.

College sports marketer, Learfield, which is owned by Atairos Group, has acquired Spectra’s Ticketing & Fan Engagement division from Comcast Spectacor, which will revert to its original name, Paciolan. The deal was announced on June 12 and it’s expected to close at the end of the month.

Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagements’ Kim Damron will continue to lead Paciolan in her role as president. Dave Butler will remain as CEO of Paciolan and founder Jane Kleinberger will also remain with the firm, which will officially be called, Paciolan a Learfield Company.

The connections run deep between all four companies. Atairos Group is run by Michael Angelakis, who was formerly CFO at Comcast, owned by Comcast Spectacor.

“Pac is back,” said a thrilled Damron about getting the Paciolan name back when reached at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) conference in Orlando, Fla., where all of the company’s branding is already Paciolan.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. “We had that name for 35 of the 37 years we’ve been in business and the Paciolan name resonates well with our clients. The brand is great and known in the market.”

“Learfield was looking for natural synergy plays and this was one that made sense," said Damron. “Learfield is clearly the leader in college, but they’re also focused on live entertainment — the venue side, the college side and on the arts side.”

Damron is excited about working with Learfield’s digital marketing company, Mogo Interactive. “They have over 200 clients, 150 of which are performing arts clients, so we’ll be able to deliver advanced marketing tools and data solutions to our performing arts and venue clients,” said Damron.

Damron also believes another windfall of the deal will be that Paciolan’s already strong marketing services team will be able to accelerate their services to their clients through Mogo technology.

Learfield also owns digital signage companies ANC and GoVision, and Sidearm, a website company, which Damron believes will also provide ‘synergies across the company that make a whole lot of sense for us.”

The company will be staying in their headquarters in Irvine, Cailf., and the rest of the senior management team, Steve Demots, chief revenue officer, and Craig Ricks, SVP, marketing, will also be staying in their roles.

“We expect to grow the product and the features and deliver great products and services for our customers,” said Damron about Paciolan’s future under a new corporate owner.  “Learfield also plans to invest in our technology, which means more products and services out to the market to serve everybody better.”

“We have long admired Paciolan,” said Learfield President and CEO Greg Brown.  “Not only is it a great service with a number of segment-leading products, the reputation of its people, beginning with its founders and current management, is without peer.  We couldn’t be happier and look forward to having Paciolan as part of the Learfield family.”

Brown said there are still a few minor legal matters to resolve but all the major issues have been agreed upon. “The deal is signed,”  he said.

“We serve many athletic and entertainment programs and venues and one of the more meaningful pieces that has not been a part of what we do has been the ticketing function, which has incredible technology and databases and functionality, which every significant venue has to have,” he said. “Ticketing is a pretty complex software product.”

Brown said that acquiring Paciolan fits in nicely with the other acquisitions the company has made over the last few years. “Adding a complimentary product and service to the other companies we’ve picked up like Mogo and Sidearm will make integrating our services seamless.”

Culturally, Brown believes the companies are a perfect fit. “How Paciolan thinks about relationships, and how important they are, is right in line with how we place a premium on working together in a thoughtful and collaborative way,” he said. “Their culture is a centerpiece of what is attractive about that company.”

Brown confirmed Learfield’s intention to invest in Paciolan. “We’re going to be investing and probably bringing in more people,” he said. “We want to continue to build out their suite of services and functionality.”

“We all feel terrific about it, it makes so much sense because the college space is where Paciolan got its start,” said Dave Scott, Comcast Spectacor, CEO.

The genesis of the deal came from conversations Scott had with Angelakis after Atairos Group bought Learfield. “Mike and I are good friends; we worked 10 years together at Comcast,” said Scott. “We talked about what he was doing in the college space and what we were doing, and we thought it made sense to talk about a deal. With all the schools Learfield has, and all the schools Paciolan has, it’s going to be good for both of their businesses.”

Scott pointed out that Comcast by Spectacor still has the other parts of Spectra — food service and corporate sponsorship — and believes they “can go deeper in the college space” and that the move is “a terrific opportunity for cross marketing for both companies.”

Paciolan was founded in 1980. Its ticketing platform and related fan engagement services are used by 500 live entertainment organizations including 120 leading collegiate athletic departments, 75 performing arts venues and more than 100 professional sports and arenas clients and several regional ticketing partners who serve hundreds of venues. The Paciolan system processes the sale of over 120 million tickets per year. In more than 37 years of operation, Paciolan has expanded beyond its ticket operations software solutions, adding fundraising, marketing and customer analytics, providing its partners with reliable data and customer insights.

The ticketing world was also rocked this week by the news that primary ticket company Eventbrite entered into an agreement with Pandora to acquire ticket company Ticketfly for $200-million. Additionally, Eventbrite and Pandora plan to enter into a future distribution agreement to extend the benefits of the Ticketfly integration into Eventbrite.

“Both Eventbrite and Ticketfly have made incredible progress building technology for live music businesses in the long underserved mid-market,” wrote an Eventbrite representative to Venues Today in a statement. “We have shared passions and complementary strengths, and we know we can offer better solutions for venues & promoters by joining forces. When you add Ticketfly's deep relationships and strong track record in a complex industry to Eventbrite's global scale and technology, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.”

"We've always believed independent venues and promoters deserve the absolute best in event technology and services,” wrote a Ticketfly representative to Venues Today in a statement. “Teaming up with Eventbrite will give our incredible roster of clients a solution that combines the strengths of both companies, and together we will continue to push the industry forward. Ticketfly's mission is to deliver the world's most powerful live events platform, and this combination accelerates our path to achieving that mission."

The deal is still in negotiations and no date has been set for closing.

Both ticketing company deals come on the heels of a new partnership between long-reining ticket industry-leader Ticketmaster and upstart last-minute ticketing app Gametime.

“This is the first indigenous ticketing company we’ve done an open platform deal with,” said Greg Economou, Ticketmaster, chief commercial officer and head of sports. “We really like the incremental audience they’ve captured. Their market is mostly last-minute ticket-buyers who are making a decision within seven days of an event.”

“We really like their technology and their interface and think it really matches up with the direction we’re going,” he said. “We think it’s a great opportunity to create incremental purchases and ticket sales.”

“Working with an industry leader like Ticketmaster is strong validation for the fast-growing platform we’ve built at Gametime,” wrote a Gametime representative to Venues Today. “We expect to offer significant value to all of Ticketmaster’s clients as the company looks to expand inventory distribution and reach even more of our millennial demographic. Gametime’s last minute, mobile-focused user will also benefit from the best selection of tickets across all categories of sellers.”

Economou said that, “it’s available for our partners to take advantage of immediately.”

For more on the latest round of ticketing industry consolidation and analysis of all the mergers, acquisitions and new partnerships that have hit in this wave, pick up the July issue of Venues Today.


  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: June 14, 2017