Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., recently opened, causing many in our organization to reflect on some of the accomplishments, none greater than selling out all San Francisco 49ers season tickets and suites prior to the facility hosting its first event. What’s piquing the minds of many throughout the industry is how such achievements, from a revenue perspective, can continue.
Levi’s Stadium was built with three core pillars in mind: innovative technology, sustainable design and a multi-faceted, year-round fan experience. These concepts yield a 365-day model, demonstrating the opportunities and challenges of monetizing a sports and entertainment venue year-round.
Doing so effectively requires an organizational commitment to an inclusive philosophy that provides a variety of experiences for guests of all affinity and interest levels, along with an innovative spirit to evolve a venue’s offerings to attract fans to visit the stadium for years to come.
At Levi’s Stadium, a 360-degree model has been introduced which serves as an all-encompassing back stage pass to one of the most innovative sports venues in the world. This holistic approach to a non-game day experience includes everything from a VIP-guided stadium tour, to a self-guided walk through the 49ers Museum presented by Sony and capped off by a pre-arranged private meal at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak & Pub in a luxury loft or beer hall setting.
These experiences combine to meet the needs of an array of clientele ranging from corporate guests from the Silicon Valley to international tourists looking to see the best of what the Bay Area has to offer. From the mindset of the organization, teams may win, lose, or draw, but this facility will always provide a positive guest experience. This feeling comes from having a customer-centric and highly innovative approach to non-game day client experiences and hospitality similar to that of game day.
The challenge is to convert an “off-day” in the facility to an opportunity to make thousands of personal impressions through this 360-degree set of experiences. The impact of a behind-the-scenes stadium tour, a glance into the 49ers Hall of Fame within the museum, or to enjoy a meal prepared by an award-winning chef, all present an opportunity to inspire memories and multiply our brand ambassadors. The end goal is for Levi’s Stadium to have as many fans, if not more, than the 49ers based on the aforementioned assets and experiences.
These experiences also provide a platform of awareness to the greater nuances of the facility, which organically present conversations around alternative opportunities to activate Levi’s Stadium. The highlights of these opportunities are showcased as “special events.” These premium catered functions range from holiday parties and conventions to corporate receptions and weddings. All clubs and ancillary spaces were designed to be shaped and reshaped, creating versatility to host events from 10 to 10,000 guests. The exponential audience this creates is one of the clear growth strategies of the facility.
As Levi’s Stadium continues to search for ways to attract return visits from guests, many concepts are being explored. The possibilities range from Super Bowl-specific programming, to more customized theme experiences that will be able to target sub-sets of the stadium’s non-game day audience based on interests such as technology and environmental sustainability. With Levi’s Stadium sharing a neighboring footprint with 49ers corporate headquarters and training facility, there may also be opportunities to cross-pollinate with other business disciplines and football operations, further attracting local commerce and sporting communities.
This initiative all started with the foundation of wanting to serve as a great municipal citizen within the Bay Area and the City of Santa Clara. Levi’s Stadium now has its eyes on domestic and international opportunities, and it all starts with the content and infrastructure of the building itself.
In his current role as Director of Sales for the San Francisco 49ers and Levi’s Stadium, Epstein oversees all revenue components ranging from Premium Hospitality, Stadium Suites, SBL Sales, Group Sales, Ticket Sales, Tour Sales, Museum Sales, and Michael Mina’s Private Dining. Prior to joining the 49ers, Epstein served as GM of Legends Global Sales and has also held various leadership roles in the National Basketball Association with the Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Hornets, and Sacramento Kings. A proud graduate of the University of Southern California, Epstein is a native of Los Angeles, CA.