So far, the amount of traffic the venue is getting as well as the financial performance has surpassed expectations, Palma said.
There are 134 ticketed seats in the bar, including 116 loveseat-style seats directly on the field level. Another 18 drink rail seats are next to the pool. Those tickets start at $50, depending on the game, and can run up to $100. Standing-room only tickets start at $25 and allow access to all of the non-seat areas in the venue, including the pool and patio.
The ticketed seats sell out often, Palma said.
Palma said the company hopes to expand the concept elsewhere — like Sun Life Stadium, for a start.
The bar is also aggressively marketing for business during non-game days. Palma said about a dozen Christmas parties are already booked.
For football season, he said, he’s planning to open the Clevelander for Sunday games even when the Marlins aren’t in town. That is set to start on Sept. 9.
“We bought the licensing so we can open it year-round,” Palma said. “I think football is a good starting piece. There’s something nostalgic about being in a stadium even though it’s empty.”
The bar is typically open two hours before games to ticketholders and, once the game ends, for another couple of hours to anyone. The back patio games were added in mid-July and immediately drew crowds.
“We just tried to say, ‘Hey, while you’re here, do what you want to do,” Palma said. “Baseball can get boring. It’s a long game. People tune out.”
Samson said the organization doesn’t mind if guests are otherwise occupied at the Clevelander.
“People just love it and we’re ok with them there during the game when they’re watching other sports on TV or they’re enjoying drinks by the pool and not really realizing what the score is,” he said.
Ledan and Perez, the friends who attended a July 28 game with season tickets, said they had debated whether to shell out an extra $10 to hit the Clevelander.
“We were like, are we going to get our money’s worth?” said Perez, 26. But he pointed out the pool, and the dancers, and the bullpen view and surrounding people snapping pictures of it all. “We’re glad we spent it,” he said.
Not much time passed before Justin Ruggiano hit a home run ball into the Clevelander’s seating area and set off the neighboring home run sculpture.
Perez took it all in and repeated: “It was worth it.”
CLUB RED AT BANKATLANTIC CENTER
Unlike other South Florida teams, the Florida Panthers are not bringing in an outside brand that’s already a known quantity. Instead, the team’s parent company, which controls the lease at the county-owned BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, is creating its own brand: Club RED, named for the team color.
The 12,000-square-foot members-only lounge, by the arena’s front entrance, includes a 60-foot bar, lounge areas, all-you-can eat food serving stations — and lots of red design elements.
“This club’s about us,” said Michael Yormark, president and chief operating officer of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Panthers. “There are other organizations that have brought other preexisting brands into their building and they’ve used that to help market a unique experience. This is our experience. This is something that we’ve created.”
The club was already supposed to be open by now, but last season’s playoff run — in which the Panthers won the Southeast Division title — and the performances of Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion held up construction. County records show that about $5 million of an overall $7.7 million loan from the county is paying for the project; SSE expects the club to pay for itself between one and two years if it sells out as expected.
While the center already offers a fairly affordable all-inclusive club, Duffy’s, and a more expensive version called the ADT Club, a top-of-the-line option was missing.
“I refer to this as the Bentley,” Yormark said. “This would be the best of the best.”
The cost will reflect that. Access to the lounge and a seat for every concert, show and hockey game will run $16,500 a year; a package for just hockey games costs $9,500 annually. Included in the cost are food, wine, beer, dedicated valet service and a lower bowl seat on center ice for hockey games (stage right for concerts). The setup includes 633 seats for hockey games and 733 for concerts.
Many of those seats were formerly held by season ticket holders who were offered seats across from the club. Yormark said he had the “luxury” of having available seats for those fans to move into.
“A year or two from now when our hockey team continues to go back to the playoffs and hopefully, knock on wood, win a championship, I would not have had that opportunity,” he said.
He said sales so far are “pretty good” and he anticipates being sold out by the middle of the hockey season. Yormark said he’s confident that there’s a market for the product, despite the lingering effects of the recession.
“You’re always concerned about the economy,” he said. “But we still think the timing’s right. At the end of the day, Club RED can be a magnificent tool for a company to drive its business. There is a significant need to relationship build with your clients. What better way to do that than in Club RED?”
Davie-based landscaping business DynaServ was one of the first companies to buy Club RED memberships, trading up from the four ADT Club seats it had previously.
While company president John Reed said DynaServ owner Joseph Sirotkin and his wife Beverly should be the ones to break in the tickets, the company will use them throughout the year as rewards or incentives for employees.
The company bought the membership bundle that includes all concerts, events and hockey games.
“We got the total package,” Reed said. “You figure the whole thing out, it’s really a good deal.”
HYDE AMERICANAIRLINES ARENA
Whereas other clubs boast at least the option to reserve seats with a prime view of the action, Hyde AmericanAirlines Arena is more about partying before, after or between plays — or while listening to them.
There will be no view of the court from the super-exclusive club, except on screens. But the operators — who opened Hyde Lounge at Staples Center, a place the Los Angeles Times described as feeling “like a souped-up private jet teeming with high-rollers of every age and demographic” — believe it will become the place to be seen at the arena.
Los Angeles-based hospitality, real estate and entertainment company sbe also has Hyde Lounge locations in South Beach, Hollywood, California’s Mammoth Mountain and Las Vegas. The company opened the chic SLS Hotel South Beach earlier this summer; executives said sbe’s presence here made Miami a natural choice for an expansion into the arena. Levy Restaurants will partner with sbe on food and beverage at the lounge.
The venue will be open to season ticket holders and will charge a cover, though that amount has not yet been announced. Eventually, the lounge might accept reservations, said Michael Talansky, sbe’s director of operations.
“Hopefully if we’re successful, this will be the spot everyone wants to go to,” he said. “It’s not going to be a place just anyone in the arena can walk into.”
Eric Woolworth, president of the Miami Heat’s business operations, said the team has been looking for years to add a nightclub. The Grey Goose Lounge added some luxury cachet, but Woolworth said it’s small and can’t accommodate many people. After looking at local nightclub operators, the Heat decided sbe would be the best fit, especially because of their experience at Staples Center.
Construction is underway in the court level area that used to house part of the Miami Sol’s old locker room and a starbox lounge. Neither sbe nor the Heat would reveal the cost of the project or what they expect to make in revenues.
“It’s a partnership, so we’re sharing the costs to build the space and then that will translate to the operations and revenue split after the success of the venue,” Talansky said.
While Woolworth said he expects the space to be profitable, he is keeping those expectations reasonable.
“It’s not a very big space,” he said. “Hopefully it makes a positive contribution. But I think any of us would be fooling ourselves if we thought it would move the needle very far.”
The grand opening is set for the Miami Heat’s home opener on Oct. 30 with soft openings as early as September. Hyde AmericanAirlines Arena will be open during Heat games and other events at the arena initially; eventually, the operators could consider options for times when no events are scheduled.
Talansky said sbe and the Heat are working together to figure out packages and membership possibilities — a process complicated by the fact that season tickets to see the reigning NBA champions are already sold out. The Staples Center Hyde Lounge has a $5,000 membership level.
Woolworth said he’s not worried that the lounge’s intended audience will be scared off by high prices.
“There’s a segment of our fan base that has not only shown us but told us that it’s about enhancing the fun factor and raising our level of amenity,” he said. “There’s not that much concern about what it’s going to cost.”