Rick Horrow, a Palm Beach County sports business analyst and consultant, said one of the most important uses of upscale clubs is to make a franchise’s brand appealing to sophisticated fans.
Whether every effort is successful remains to be seen, said Horrow, who teaches sports business and sports law at Harvard Law School.
“It’ll effectively be survival of the fittest,” he said. “Everybody has to try, but not everybody will succeed.”
For hardcore sports fans, all the disco-ball fanfare can seem extraneous — and disappointing.
“I don’t begrudge anybody for making a profit,” said Josh Friedman, reporter and weekend talk show host for 790 The Ticket. “I just wonder why they feel a necessity to put these in the first place. Isn’t the game enough? I guess the game isn’t enough.”
LIV SUN LIFE STADIUM
Since it opened in late 2008, the Fontainebleau’s LIV nightclub in Miami Beach has been one of the most high-profile nightclubs in the area — and earned recognition worldwide.
Still, its Miami Gardens outpost at Sun Life Stadium took a little while to catch on after opening in September 2010.
“The overall fan base didn’t quite understand what we were trying to do,” said LIV Sun Life general manager Cristian LaCapra. He said there was a lack of public awareness going into the club’s second season in 2011 — something the NFL lockout did not help — but interest started to pick up by the end of that season.
Going into the third year, he said, all of the 216 lower-level seats and four-person couches are already sold out for the season at a cost of $200 per seat and $275 a person on the couches. The venue is open for regular and pre-season home games, the first of which was Friday.
LaCapra said the goal that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross originally had in mind was to capitalize on the brand to give stadium guests a different experience — and perhaps attract a new clientele.
“Being that Miami Beach and the nightlife on Miami Beach is such a large part of the culture in South Florida, he thought it would be a great thing to connect that culture and bring it to the stadium,” said LaCapra, who is also the Dolphins’ regional manager for corporate development. “That’s a customer base that might not normally come to a football game.”
Nightlife marketing and operations company Miami Marketing Group, or MMG, partners with Sun Life Stadium to operate the club, as it partners with the Fontainebleau to run the venue there. The Fontainebleau owns the LIV brand.
The Dolphins paid “millions” to build the stadium version, MMG co-owner David Grutman said. The two entities have a revenue sharing partnership.
To create the 11,000-square-foot, two-level area, 400 seats and 17 skyboxes were ripped out. The lower open-air level has couches and wide leather-wrapped seats. “Downstairs is football first, entertainment second,” LaCapra said. “Upstairs is entertainment first, football second.”
Upstairs in an enclosed space are field view cabanas, which seat 10 to 15 people for $275 a head and other options that include $75 for standing room only (available only to suite or club ticket members), $150 per person for lounge tables and $200 per person for field view rail seating. All tickets, excluding the standing room option, come with a $25 food and drink voucher.