Sports Business Recap: Battle at Bristol, IBM and the A-10

One of the benefits of running this blog is finding out about new, creative and effective campaigns and partnerships when they happen. So I will occasionally publish a recap-style post to highlight these deals. As always, thanks to the brands and properties (and their PR agencies) for keeping me up to speed!

Battle at Bristol Trophy Design Contest

Battle at Bristol is putting out a call to fans: Do you want to be a part of history? History will indeed be made as sports fans witness a border battle, decades in the making, between Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 10, 2016. In honor of this epic rivalry, Battle at Bristol is giving fans the chance to be a part of the ground-breaking event in the form of a national contest. Fans have the opportunity to design what will inspire the iconic trophy awarded to the winner of this historic game. The full contest rules can be found at

Entries will be organized by Bristol Motor Speedway to determine the top three that will go up on on March 13, 2015 for fan voting. Majority vote winner from the fans will serve as the inspiration for the final Battle at Bristol Trophy. In addition to bragging rights, the winner will receive a free trip to a Bristol Motor Speedway race weekend, the September 2015 Trophy Unveiling event, tickets to Battle at Bristol in September 2016 and other prizes.

Expected to draw more than 150,000 fans, the iconic NASCAR short track will transform into college football’s largest venue within an estimated two-week timeframe following its traditional late-Aug. race date. The Battle at Bristol football game is on track to crush the current NCAA single-game attendance record of 115,109, which was set in September 2013 at Michigan Stadium.

New Atlanta Stadium to Showcase Next Generation Fan Experience with IBM Technology

IBM and AMB Sports & Entertainment announced a strategic partnership to develop a game-changing fan experience at the state-of-the-art new Atlanta stadium set to open in 2017. This will enable AMBSE to provide highly advanced, interactive technologies for sporting events including Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer Atlanta games as well as concerts and other marquee events.

Today’s sports and entertainment fans demand better event experiences from the moment they leave their home. With IBM’s Smarter Stadium Network technologies delivered via the cloud along with design and development expertise from IBM Interactive Experience, AMBSE expects to offer fans a truly immersive event day at the new Atlanta stadium from start to finish.

“We know that creating the ultimate fan experience means meeting fans where they are, providing them with the platform to interact in a seamless way, and introducing them to new offerings that exceed expectations,” said Rich McKay, President & CEO of the Atlanta Falcons. “IBM understands the commitment we are making to our fans and will help us reset the bar in terms of fan experience, technology and sustainability for sports and entertainment complexes globally.”

IBM’s decades of experience transforming the fan experience at major global sporting events such as Wimbledon, French Open, Australian Open, Masters Golf Tournament and the U.S. Open golf and tennis championships will help AMBSE define and create a unique, engaging environment for visitors of the new stadium.

“Tech savvy consumers count on their devices to enhance their day-to-day lives whether at work, shopping at the mall or attending an event,” said Jared Miller, AMBSE Chief Technology Officer. “By partnering with IBM, we will ensure our fans and guests an unparalleled interactive and engaging experience, helping to make the new Atlanta stadium the marquee sports and entertainment venue globally.”

AMBSE will team with IBM Interactive Experience to leverage the power of mobility to create a highly contextual, more personalized game day experience for fans, all through the integration of analytics, mobile, social, security and cloud technologies to make this a reality. IBM is the Official Lead Integrator for the New Atlanta Stadium.

IBM’s Smarter Stadium Network will provide ABMSE with leading-edge wifi infrastructure that will enable guests of the new stadium to enhance their event experience. AMBSE will also operate within a “Smarter” Stadium environment where IBM’s system integration will enable the operations team to be connected to, and communicate with, numerous stadium amenities including the new 360 degree, 63,000 square foot HD Video Halo Board, 2,000+ video displays and concessions experience. This includes a more future flexible network, space savings within the stadium, power and cooling savings that will lower the carbon footprint while increasing operational efficiency.

Atlantic 10 Conference Debuts New Branding Spots

On the heels of a successful national brand campaign launch in 2014, the Atlantic 10 has again partnered with award-winning national branding agency 160over90 to celebrate student-athletes across each of its 21 championship sports. The campaign – dubbed ‘Any Arena. Any Field.’ – features a 1-minute, 45-second online video and three 30-second national TV spots that document a day in the life of A-10 student-athletes as they work hard to do it all: defend, pass, and score in “Any Arena,” and study, research and graduate in “Any Field.”

“The campaign perfectly ties into the mission of our league, which is about the overall student-athlete experience. We are proud of both our significant athletics accomplishments and the high academic marks that our student-athletes and institutions receive,” stated Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. “This has been a powerful campaign that has extended our brand awareness across the country. It has been extremely beneficial to work with a professional agency such as 160over90 to tell our brand story.”

“Last year, we unveiled the grittiness of A-10 basketball and unleashed a challenge to any team: Who Wants Next? This year, we’re building on the core idea that in the Atlantic 10 Conference, it’s a ‘workright, not a birthright’ — something that holds true across all 21 championship sports — to show that the A-10 has great hoops and more,” said Darryl Cilli, 160over90 chief creative officer and principal. “The A-10 is an amazing conference, home to some of the most talented student-athletes. These young people really do earn everything they achieve, academically and athletically.”

In this year’s campaign, the 1-minute, 45-second spot tells the day-in-the-life story of A-10 student-athletes. Up before daylight, breaking a sweat in the weight room and hitting the books in the classroom, Atlantic 10 Conference student-athletes are united by a common focus and an uncompromising work ethic driving them to succeed athletically in any arena and academically in any field.

According to the NCAA’s most recent statistics, Atlantic 10 student-athletes graduate at an 89 percent rate — five percentage points higher than the national average. It is the fourth straight year that the league has been at 89 percent or better. The A-10 has 90 teams across its 14 campuses with a perfect 1000 GSR score. Athletically, the conference has achieved success crowning 21 conference champions, and sending numerous teams and student-athletes to NCAA postseason championships.

For a glimpse into the drive of an A-10 student-athlete, check out

Atlantic 10: Any Arena. Any Field. from Atlantic 10 on Vimeo.