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New firm puts fans on road to CFP title game

New firm puts fans on road to CFP title game

By Michael Smith, Staff Writer

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Terry Leiweke won’t necessarily be rooting against Alabama over the final month of college football’s regular season, but his accountant might.

That’s because Leiweke’s latest business venture — Fan Plan — gives fans a chance to put money down on their favorite team to make it to the national championship game. If their team makes it, Fan Plan gives them $1,000 each in a voucher that can be used toward tickets and travel.

Alabama, the prohibitive favorite to make it to College Football Playoff’s title tilt, cost customers $265 for a package — that is until the company cut off Alabama Fan Plan sales at 25. If the Crimson Tide makes it to the CFP finals in Atlanta, those fans would be immediately notified by Fan Plan how to obtain their $1,000 voucher.

An Alabama fan who paid $265 would receive a $1,000 voucher toward tickets and travel if the Tide makes the final game.
GETTY IMAGES
That’s easily the most expensive Fan Plan. Georgia and Penn State are the other two teams that cost more than $200 for a package. The cost for each team changes by the day, depending on competitive success, injuries and other factors.

Longshots to make the championship game like Washington or Oklahoma State cost as little as $20 each, but still pay off the $1,000 voucher if the team makes it.

The concept for Dallas-based Fan Plan, which launched in August, is called price indemnity plans. That’s important, Leiweke says, because it’s not gambling by the legal definition in Texas. The price indemnity plan locks in a price for a guaranteed return — the $1,000 voucher — if the selected team is in the final two. If the fan’s selected team doesn’t make the championship game, the money stays with Fan Plan.

The company, which is backed by venture capital that Leiweke raised with business partners, works with TicketIQ for tickets and multiple travel agencies for airfare and hotel. Former Dallas Cowboy Daryl “Moose” Johnston is also on the board with Leiweke and Steve Hatchell, president and CEO of the National Football Foundation.

As of last week, Fan Plan had sold more than 500 Fan Plan packages across 38 different teams. Some of the biggest early sellers were Southern California and Florida State, teams that were highly ranked early but have essentially been eliminated from contention. That’s where Fan Plan really cashes in — when favorites like the Trojans and Seminoles cost $200 or so for a package but don’t pay off.

Terry Leiweke of Fan Plan, with wife Shelley, said Fan Plan is “just getting started.”
Courtesy of: FAN PLAN
“We’ve got to prove the concept,” said Leiweke, the oldest brother of the four Leiweke brothers. “But we’re just getting started. We think there could be 30 or more events where Fan Plan could be used. There’s no competition in the marketplace, all of our stuff is proprietary and it’s very hard to figure out. So, we’ve got some runway here.”

Leiweke launched the business by acquiring TickAssure on June 1 and rebranding it to Fan Plan. TickAssure’s concept was similar, but it had sold fewer than 200 packages in its first two seasons, Leiweke said. The biggest challenge is finding the right balance between price and payout, and it’s not easy.

“The graveyard is full of good ideas, but you have to execute,” Leiweke said.

Fan Plan uses a team of analysts to evaluate each team’s chances of making the championship game based on close to 20 competition-based data points. The formula does not take into account the size of a team’s fan base. Some of the customers so far are simply following their favorite team, while others might be putting their money on the favorites because they just want to go to the game.

Leiweke said he has reached out to the CFP, NCAA and professional leagues to build relationships, with the idea that they might turn into some sort of official partnership that would include use of marks and a shared database of potential customers.


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