SportsMark retains World Cup hospitality

SportsMark retains World Cup hospitality

By Fred Dreier, Staff Writer


SportsMark Management Group has renewed its partnership with MATCH Hospitality AG — FIFA’s official hospitality program for the men’s and women’s World Cups and Confederations Cups — to manage corporate hospitality sales within the U.S. for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The San Rafael, Calif.-based company beat out three other bidders for the contract, which it previously held for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The company can begin marketing and selling suites and premium seats for the 2014 World Cup starting Oct. 1.

“The World Cup is an important platform for us to continue our business relationship with MATCH and heighten our credibility in the soccer business world,” said Keith Bruce, president of SportsMark, which also manages corporate events for Visa, Sony and Chevron, among other companies. “Brazil is a huge market for us and an entry point into Latin America.”

According to sources, SportsMark provides a guaranteed payment to MATCH and a percentage of all sales. SportsMark becomes the first regional agent appointed by MATCH for the 2014 World Cup. Jaime Byrom, MATCH’s executive chairman, said his firm signed the U.S. first due to the country’s robust corporate ticket sales from 2010.

“Clearly the United States has become the most important international market as far as the FIFA World Cup is concerned,” said Byrom, who declined to say how many premium tickets Americans bought in 2010. “This was confirmed by the volume of tickets sold [for 2010]. We anticipate a similar situation for 2014.”

Byrom anticipates corporate hospitality sales for 2014 to rebound from the lackluster sales for 2010. According to FIFA, the 2010 tournament brought in $3.7 billion in total revenue. However, numerous reports described partially full premium seats and suites and marginal crowds in hospitality areas. Byrom declined to discuss final sales figures for the South Africa World Cup.

Bruce also predicts an uptick in sales.

“Brazil is a much closer destination than South Africa and the time zone is manageable for most Americans,” Bruce said. “And we expect the U.S. economy and corporate marketplace to rebound by that sales cycle.”