Recently I have been toying with an odd idea in my mind, A football club theme park. How will it work? Basically, it’s a designated park where instead of roller coasters and carousels there are training areas with different obstacles and features. Each football club sets up its own area and teaches its style of play, one of the additional benefits besides a nice day out for families, is that the park will act as a scouting platform for the featuring clubs. Have a think about it.
The idea seems quite bizarre however the seed that planted this idea is very real and I believe it is the next trend in football sponsorship. Discussed broadly in sports literature whether football is a product, service, entertainment or all of these together. I think the majority of people will agree that it is a form of entertainment rather than the other two.
This form of entertainment is now starting to work together with other forms of entertainment and leading companies in the entertainment industry. Manchester United has proved to be European football’s commercial powerhouse with €363.3M in commercial revenue and responsible for pioneering partnership deals with many business sectors. Last year, a partnership was agreed with 20th Century Fox film studios. The partnership included so far promotion of key films produced by the studio but also Hollywood like content involving Manchester United players.
This June two more football clubs partnered with a leading film studio. Firstly, it was Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS that announced a partnership with Universal Studios Hollywood to be its exclusive theme park partner. As part of the partnership, the studio’s logo was placed on the main new video display at the franchise’s home ground, the StubHub Center. Other components of the deal are similar to the one of Manchester United with Fox. Only a day between the announcement of LA Galaxy another Premier League club joined the trend.
(Picture Source: LA Galaxy website)
Now it was Arsenal’s turn to partner with Universal Pictures. The deal includes promotion of main movies produced by Universal around the stadium while also gaining access to use players in creating content and promotion. The recently released Despicable Me 3 used the Emirates Stadium in one of its promotions.
Remember the crazy theme park idea? Well, also in June a Chinese consortium announced it will develop the Messi Experience Park which will include football training, entertainment and highlights of key moments in Messi’s career.
Finally, we’ve witnessed in this summer transfer market the creative announcing of signings frenzy on social media by football clubs. The peak of them for me was the piece of content produced by Southampton revealing that goalkeeper Stuart Taylor extended his contract at the club by one year. The content resembled a scene from an action film.
I expect that more football clubs will seek partnerships with entertainment companies in the constant pursuit of increasing commercial revenue in a future that possesses uncertainty about TV rights revenues. We are in the era of digital and sports properties seek to be as creative as possible with their online content in order to grow the global fan base. Maybe the idea of a Football Theme Park isn’t far-fetched after all?