On Location Experiences successfully tackles first big test in Houston

On Location Experiences successfully tackles first  big test in Houston

It was a coming-out party for On Location Experiences, the NFL’s official hospitality partner, owned by RedBird Capital Partners, Bruin Sports Capital, 32 Equity (which oversees the NFL’s investment) and Jon Bon Jovi. All in all, executives had to feel good about Houston.

They are crafting a compelling narrative, reshaping the Super Bowl experience. Outside of game day, the hottest ticket of the week was On Location’s Club Nomadic, a custom-designed 62,500-square-foot nightclub that was packed with nearly 9,000 spectators a night from Thursday to Saturday and had such talent as Bruno Mars (Pepsi’s event) and Taylor Swift (DirecTV/AT&T). Bold-face names — NFL owners, sponsor/media executives and celebrities — were all requesting hard-to-get tickets.

It was difficult to believe the hip venue was barren land in December, when construction began. The three-floor layout had an open feel with great sound, and Nomadic can tear it down and rebuild it in other locations.On Location executives envision this concept at other events —  Club Nomadic at the NFL draft or even film festivals?

By managing and operating it, On Location provides an appealing option for brands and teams who won’t have to scout out venues or execute their hospitality, as it all could be handled by On Location. These experiences can be bundled with Super Bowl Sundaygame  tickets with pregame and postgame events.

On Sunday alone, On Location handled hospitality for 12,000, which went smoothly and was conveniently held inside the stadium perimeter at NRG Stadium, including pregame tailgates for the Patriots and Falcons and a separate deal to handle the Patriots’ postgame party in the 225,000-square-foot space at NRG Center that featured John Legend and brilliant digital boards showing game highlights in a party that went past 3 a.m.

A true learning experience, year one wasn’t without its hiccups: Reports had more than two-hour waits to get into Club Nomadic, with some other logistical issues inside the venue. Pats-Falcons led to a pretty soft ticket market, and sales were said to be slow.  I’d expect organizers to engage with the corporate community much earlier next year on their hospitality needs. On Location needs to get buyers to think of a “bundle of entertainment experiences,” not just a Sunday game ticket. Look for On Location to bolt on other offerings, including air travel, hotel and other venues to fully service clubs and sponsors.

But in this experience-based economy, by disrupting the hospitality and ticketing norms around the Super Bowl, On Location is something I’ll be closely following.

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By: Abraham Madkour