Tim Hinchey, President, Colorado Rapids, Interview- The last piece of the puzzle

By iSportconnect | November 12, 2012

iSportconnect caught up with Tim Hinchey, President of the Colorado Rapids, during a more quaint period in his busy schedule, as the club continue their search for a shirt sponsor and look to further grow their business.

What’s the latest regarding the shirt sponsor?

We’ve been engaged with a particular company for the last couple of months. Nowadays, the average shirt sponsorship in the United States is worth over $2.5million per year, for a minimum of three years. When you’re going to a potential commercial partner and asking for $7.5million plus, that’s a decision that needs real consideration throughout the company.

Denver is the 18th sized market and we have as many professional sports team as the New York market so when you talk about a share of voice for your brand, you have to be very clever to deliver what is required to be successful. After having success delivering one for Derby County, I thought we could come in, take the same best practices and get it done, but it’s not gone as fast as I thought.

The good news is we’re growing the rest of the business. Our season ticket base has nearly doubled in the last two years. Our revenue, sponsorship and partnership are up again. Food and beverage, concession, retail- everything is pointing in the right direction. The elusive partner for the shirt is the last piece for us to become a profitable entity.

Do you have specific criteria when choosing partners?

First and foremost we look at categories that invest in professional sports and we rank those categories based on information and analysis on what they invest on all sports in the United States. Then, we look through those key categories and identify what categories do we have open.

For example, Cricket Wireless invest quite a bit of money in sports marketing because they feel that sports, sport sponsorships and sports partnerships are a really unique way for them to connect with fans – somewhere they have a point of passion. We didn’t have a wireless partner these past years, so we tried to identify which partners would really benefit from investing with the Rapids and also take our brand out into the marketplace. It’s not just a one way deal. We want to find partners that want to be part of the Rapids and take our badge into the marketplace. That’s equally as important to us as we continue build our fan base.

Cricket Wireless, recently gave away 4000 scarves to the first 4000 to arrive at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. What was the impetus behind that?

Cricket Wireless were one of our larger new partners last year and they that really helped us grow our business. For a partner like that, one of their key objectives is to find an authentic activation point to our fan base. Scarves represent an authentic way to support our game. You get a chance to celebrate the game, you have a co-branded scarf and you get people in the park early, so all round it ticks all boxes.

Do you have to go the extra mile when attracting spectators?

We have this fantastic purpose built stadium for soccer, which draws a great deal of grassroots and tournament participation. We can use our facility as a fantastic incentive and asset to attract those teams and tournaments when they’re in town to stay and support a match with the Rapids. This year we sold almost 90,000 group tickets, of which 50% of those came through youth soccer. Now we have to convince those once or twice a year groups to be part of this on a fulltime level as a season ticket holder. That’s going to be one of our main initiatives going into 2013.