Football Team Turns Over Telemarketing to Rival

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The Tampa Bay Storm, losers of last year's Arena Football League championship game, have outsourced their telemarketing needs to the team that defeated them for the AFL title - their cross-state rivals, the Orlando Predators. The decision was made because the Predators not only beat the Storm on the field, but at the box office, soliciting more season tickets and corporate sponsorships last year.


"It takes too much to get geared up [to do telemarketing], and we've never had the wherewithal to try to spend that kind of money to get started," said Tim Marcum, head coach and general manager of the Storm. "But they're good at that, and we've tapped into it, and we're glad we did."


The Predators decided to invest in telemarketing before the start of last year's season, and ended up selling about 1,000 more season tickets than the year before. The team sold about 8,700 season tickets last year, out of 16,613 available seats and has a goal of selling 10,000 season tickets for the upcoming season, which begins later this month.


Tampa Bay, which seats about 22,000 at its home arena, the Ice Palace, sells about 6,000 season tickets annually. The team would not release specific numbers, but a team spokesman said sales of season tickets and sponsorships were up from last year.


After seeing the results of its own telemarketing efforts last year, the Predators decided to market their acquired know-how and infrastructure to rivals.


"Tampa Bay became a natural for us. 'A,' because of their proximity, 'B,' because they themselves did not use telemarketing, and then the third part was that since our people were already selling arena football, they were already familiar with it," said Dan Pearson, a Predators spokesman. "It was logical to try and branch off of what we were doing and try to sell for Tampa Bay."


Orlando receives a commission on each Tampa Bay season-ticket package it sells. The company is targeting the 70,000 Tampa-area businesses with season ticket and advertising packages for $500, $1,000 and $1,500 that include promotional considerations and mention in the team programs. The Storm supply the prospect lists.


"In the future we may definitely look at putting together packages where the same sponsor would get exposure with both the Tampa Bay and Orlando franchises," said Brett Bouchy, president of the Orlando Predators.


Orlando's telemarketing staff has been alternating two weeks of calls on behalf of one team with two weeks on behalf of the other team.


To market its own team's tickets, Orlando uses lists of people who purchased season tickets in the past but did not renew for this year's season. The company also uses lists, such as those of new residents, those obtained from local chambers of commerce and from other sources.


"We look at whatever lists are available that fit our demographic," said Pearson.


The team's 14-person telemarketing staff, headed by director of telemarketing Chris Tamburrelli, works out of a 15-station office in the Citrus Bowl. Pearson said the team's high hopes for the venture are prompting a move to larger facilities.


"We're looking at moving into new offices that are going to be quite a bit larger," said Pearson. "We'll look at getting some more people. We really think telemarketing is going to grow and become a major core piece of our business in the future."


The company already has begun looking at other Arena Football League teams as possible clients for its telemarketing services and is exploring the possibility of marketing the service to other professional sports teams.


"We have already had favorable discussions with other sports teams and we believe there is a market for these services," said Bouchy.


But can there ever be camaraderie between bitter cross-state rivals like the Orlando Predators and the Tampa Bay Storm?


"We fight like cats and dogs, and we compete, and we've certainly had our share of incidents, with our fans throwing beer on each other and getting into fights and so forth," said Marcum of the Storm. "But when it comes down to whether we can help each other continue to stay alive and get stronger through our 13th season, well, then, the answer is yes." n
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