That’s the Ticket!

That’s the Ticket!
Leader: Nick Baker, co-chief operating officer of AEG Global Partnerships, at LA Live.

In the last weekend of April, the team at AEG Global Partnerships was quite busy.

For one, it was the weekend of Stagecoach, the popular country music festival that takes place in Indio and one of the many festivals that downtown-based Anschutz Entertainment Group owns through Goldenvoice.

And then there were the Lakers, playing at the AEG-owned Arena in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on that Friday. The next night saw the Los Angeles Kings taking on the Edmonton Oilers in game six of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the venue. 

But there was even more action in AEG’s offices.

According to Nick Baker, the co-chief operating officer of Global Partnerships, his team signed three deals that weekend that signified more than $160 million in contractually obligated income.

Global Partnerships also sold over $300 million of premium seating business at Arena in future deals that same weekend, Baker said.

Never before had AEG had the occasion to sign so many big deals in such a short time.

“It is an incredible opportunity when you are sitting in a seat for a playoff game to have an opportunity to think of it as a multi-year investment to purchase the suite or that premier seat,” Baker added. “We were able to take full advantage of the momentum of the playoffs during that time.”

While the Kings were eliminated that weekend, the Lakers went on to two more rounds before eventually falling to the Denver Nuggets in four games. And with the other Los Angeles NBA team, the Clippers, making it to the playoffs, it marked the first time since 2013 that all three teams were in the post-season at the same time, Baker said. 

“So we had an historic run of activity, which is good for our partners but also for these new discussions for the partners that are coming on board,” he said.

Leader: Nick Baker, co-chief operating officer of AEG Global Partnerships, at LA Live.

Of the three partners signing up over that weekend in April, two were renewals and one is new. One of the renewals was for Delta Air Lines, a longtime partner of AEG at Arena and LA Live, the sports and entertainment district adjacent to the arena, also owned by AEG.

AEG is a subsidiary of the Denver-based Anschutz Corp

Baker said the entire Global Partnerships team is excited about working with Delta. 

When you establish a relationship with a brand it becomes special, but when you are able to expand that relationship, then it becomes truly special, he said.

“In the case of Delta, we’ve expanded it to where it will take us well past the Olympics,” he added. Los Angeles will host the games in 2028.

Scott Santoro, vice president of global sales for the airline, said that both Delta and AEG are focused on elevating the experience for customers, whether cheering on their team or catching a flight to their next destination.

“Delta is proud to be L.A.’s largest premium global carrier, and with the support of partners like AEG we will continue to provide best-in-class offerings to Angelenos and L.A. sports fans worldwide,” Santoro said. 

Among the key provisions of the renewal is Delta taking on the naming rights of the Chairman’s Club, an exclusive space for certain ticketholders. It will be renamed Delta Sky360 Club and feature some of the carrier’s airplane artifacts; it opens to members this fall, Baker said. 

Michael Roth, a spokesman for the company, said that not everybody would be able to walk into that club.

“It is only for certain seating designations that allow you in there,” Roth said. 

Pandemic pause

The Covid-19 pandemic was particularly harmful to AEG. 

When the lockdown came in March 2020, the company was forced to cease all live events. 

It would take about a year before Baker said he felt the company was truly back.

But in the meantime, there was a pandemic to deal with, he said, adding that thanks to owner Phil Anschutz and the board, they were able to pull through it. 

“We didn’t stick to the guns of what the contracts called for,” Baker said. “We thought about the partnerships and the longevity of those partnerships.” 

The company went with what Baker described as a pause, resume and extend philosophy. 

That is, they went to their partners and said, “Do not pay us during this time, but let’s look to adding years to our current partnership.”

And it was very early on during the pandemic that they had those discussions, and the AEG team went to its partners and said, “This is how we are going to approach this,” he said.

“We had a lot of big brands who liked it; it was very well received at that time,” Baker added.  

New agreements

The company has been able to rebound now that live music and sporting events have resumed. AEG finds that its 2023 numbers are far superior to 2019’s, Baker said.

It came out of the pandemic with $600 million more in new agreements in contractually obligated income than it did going into it, he said.

“We renegotiated 4,000 agreements in our portfolio during that timeframe, and some of that $600 million was invested into the AEG portfolio during a time when we were not allowed to produce live events,” Baker added. 

AEG is so far ahead of where it was entering the pandemic that it almost seems as if there is a lot of distance between when it started and now, he continued.

“Not to say there aren’t headwinds in the economy and in business, but they aren’t created by the pandemic anymore,” he said.

And it isn’t just the sponsorship deals that are keeping the company going. Ticket sales has a lot to do with it, as well as the quality of the concerts – such as Taylor Swift and her “Eras” tour – and sporting events – once again the Lakers making it to the Western Conference finals – that it puts on, Baker said. 

“The quality of content has been the driver of ticket sales and sponsorship commitments that have been very lucrative for our business,” he added.

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