It is the rarest of rare events for a sport that is cult-like across the country but forgotten in Gotham. The first full week of December every year, college football takes center stage in New York. No, it is not because of a big game…Rutgers is slowly rebuilding, Bowl-bound Army is prepping for their Navy battle, and the City’s two college teams, Fordham and Columbia are done after progressive seasons. The reason is what goes on behind the scenes for marketers and admins across Manhattan.
Leading the week is the annual Sports Business Journal College Athletics forum, the best business to business event for those on the collegiate level. The event drew marketers and AD’s from across the country, all trying to get a better handle on best practices of the business. Later in the week is the College Football Hall of Fame dinner, perhaps the most widely-attended event for some of the biggest names in collegiate athletics past and present, with several thousand people filling the event. Then on Saturday is the presentation of the Heisman Trophy, a three to four day event marked by presentations, meetings and sponsor activity. Around the week, most of the major conferences take the time to come in and meet with sales groups, networks, and other key media and VIP’s, all designed to help update Madison Avenue on the business goings-on of college athletics. Deals are updated, college luminaries courted, policies discussed, media addressed, all in one place at one time as college football gives pause and college hoops cranks up.
There was a time when all fall was college football in New York, and other Northeastern cities, but those days, and many of the private institutions that dominated the early days of gridiron success, are a distant memory for their football prowess. Still for one week, the business of college comes full scale to New York, showing that the City is still the place where business gets done, and where if you are an athletic brand, you have to find a place to showcases your wares, whether they are in Boise or Miami and anywhere in between.
It is a smart and effective way to bring college football to Madison Avenue and really show the power of a business unique to America and growing in leaps and bounds.