College Events Embrace The Apple…

It is probably less true of an individual athlete than ever before, and maybe truer of an event than ever…if you want success you have to find your way to New York at some point. While mega-stars like LeBron James and Sydney Crosby and Payton Manning and thrive in other markets with endorsements and media coverage, events that don’t find a New York area stop are trying to still find that way to directly get an experience with Madison Avenue. The latest case is Formula 1, which continues its push to grow in North America by staging a road race just across the river in West New York, New Jersey in 2014. A successful race around Gotham may not add millions more to the purses, but will give senior brand and Wall Street execs a chance to fully embrace F1 without having to travel far in a world where budgets for such trips are ever tighter. Sports like cricket and rugby are also looking to find a platform to make a New York stop as well, with the hope that fans of the sport, as well as those interested in learning more for a brand or marketing spend, will get a chance to see what the events and the personalities are all about.

The yearning for New York success is also not lost on the college side, and the late fall and winter  will see no less than four draws try and find a place in the media and brand world.  In November Yankee Stadium will host the 150th meeting between Pennsylvania rivals Lehigh and Lafayette in a rare opportunity to showcase that long running battle on the grandest stage possible, while the ACC has joined the Big 10 in an affiliation with the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in December. Also in December a host of elite collegiate wrestling programs will turn to the mats at Madison Square Garden for the second “Grapple in the Apple” event, while January 11 Harvard and Yale will meet in hockey  at Madison Square Garden in the first-ever New York edition of the “Rivalry on Ice.”

In past years staging such events in New York would have been seen as costly and not a draw for the schools involved…the spectacles can best be captured on campus. However the need for facilities like MSG and Yankee Stadium to find more sources of ancillary revenue away from their core tenants…the Knicks, Rangers and Yankees…as well as the realization by the schools themselves that a huge marketing and potential branding opportunity exists by bringing elite events to such iconic venues, can help boost all areas of the Universities involved, from development to alumni relations and even undergraduate recruiting of both student-athlete and traditional students as well. The events themselves have now become the culmination of a multifaceted campaign by the Universities that can use the games themselves as a continued outreach point for anyone in the area they are looking to engage with. Brands that may not be as interested as going on campus, now have an elite event in their backyard where they can test market the combination of college athletics and a high level sporting event, something which, outside of some college basketball, was never easy to do in a city where intercollegiate athletics have long taken a back seat to professional sports.  Now this is not to say that suddenly New York will become a college town for sport, or that every event tried will be successful.

However for the special events, ones with a hook, and for the right schools with a focus on branding in a certain window, New York can be branding boon, one that was probably laughed at not long ago.