July 29, 2003

Brown Football's 125th Anniversary Season Featured in National Sports Business Journal

July 29, 2003

Brown U. planning campaign around 125th season

By JENNIFER LEE Staff writer

Brown University's athletic department hopes to generate some extra attention and ticket sales this season when its football program celebrates its 125th anniversary.

"This is a unique season, and we want to make sure we're marketing the team to let people know we have this rich, deep tradition," said Michael Kohler, Brown's assistant AD for marketing. "You don't typically see Ivy League schools doing this kind of stuff."

Celebration plans include a Nov. 1 black-tie dinner emceed by Brown alum and ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman. The dinner will honor a fan-picked 125th anniversary team that could include Brown football greats such as Joe Paterno and Fritz Pollard, the first African-American to play in the Rose Bowl and to coach in the NFL.

In addition to the dinner, athletic department officials have created a promotional season-ticket package that went on sale last week, a commemorative bobblehead doll and two television commercials featuring Berman in a No. 77 Brown football jersey (that's the year he graduated). One spot highlights former Brown football players, and the other promotes ticket sales. The spots will begin airing in the Providence, R.I., area in mid-August.

"When you get to 125 years of participation in any sport, you want to celebrate it and let people know of the tradition you have," said Brown AD David Roach. "It's a great way to get people interested in Brown football."

Last season, Brown averaged 8,000 fans in its 16,000-seat stadium and had 1,500 season-ticket holders. This year the department's goal is to double its season-ticket sales, Kohler said.

To help underwrite some of the costs associated with the seasonlong celebration, Brown signed an agreement with Philadelphia-based Sovereign Bank, which has four branches within two miles of the Brown campus, to sponsor the 125th anniversary and the department for the year.

As part of the sponsorship, Sovereign gets to be the sole sponsor of the 125th anniversary. Its logo will appear on all anniversary-related materials.

"It's a great opportunity for name recognition and to show our involvement with the university and the community," said Larry Ruggieri, senior vice president and regional manager for the bank.

The bank also gets signs in athletic venues and presenting sponsorship of select football, basketball and hockey games.

Neither Brown nor Sovereign officials would disclose the value of the deal. Brown sponsorships typically sell for a low to mid-five-figure sum.