2003 - 2004
January 28, 2004
Generals score big through trading
The city-managed hockey team has traded $240,000 in advertising with local companies for services.
BY MATT WILLIAMS
GREENSBORO - When the Greensboro Generals hockey team needs towels for its players to dry off with after a game, the team doesn't need to dig deep into its budget to pay for a linen service.
It doesn't pay cash for doctor visits or oral surgery or mascots, either.
Instead, the team uses a currency that is much more plentiful: tickets and publicity.
The Generals have paid for everything from hotel rooms to X-rays to Golden Corral dinners by trading away display advertising and game tickets. The city-owned Greensboro Coliseum Complex, which has taken over management of the team this season, has exchanged at least $240,000 in advertising and tickets through "trade agreements," according to signed contracts.
Those trade agreements have helped the team keep its costs down while giving local businesses a stake in the team's success. But at midseason, the team has still run a $300,000 deficit because of lagging attendance.
To get a steady supply of clean towels, the coliseum signed a contract with Aramark Uniform Services valued at $11,400. In exchange for a weekly delivery of at least 2,300 towels, Aramark was given eight rinkside season tickets, VIP parking passes, and free advertising on the arena's Jumbotron.
Many of these trades are similar to agreements the team had with local companies when the Generals were privately run. Orthopedic practice Murphy & Wainer continues to provide X-rays and the team's trainer. Golden Corral opens its buffet to players during the October training camp in exchange for season tickets and its name on the side of the penalty box.
The coliseum has expanded the practice this season, trading out advertising that was off-limits to the Generals when they were privately managed. To pay for eight two-bedroom apartments that house many of the team's players, the coliseum gave Brown Investment Properties two giant banners that are draped across an entire section of seats for each Generals game. The company was also given two lighted display panels worth $30,000 that remain in the coliseum for an entire year.
Rocco Scarfone, who ran the team's operations for the past two years as the Generals' president, said he was only able to trade out advertising on the rink's dasherboards and announcements during the game. Banners and permanent coliseum advertising like what was given to Brown Investment Properties was off limits, he was told, because that space was sold to make money for the coliseum complex as a whole.
"They to1d us it was revenue generating signage and that we couldn't use it," Scarfone said.
Business Manager Laura Smith said the coliseum has not decided whether the team's accounts should reimburse the coliseum for the cost of the signs.
Smith pointed out that in previous years, the team was given a portion of the advertising revenue generated by coliseum signs. The trade agreements have also allowed the Generals to bring back a slice of the now-defunct Monarchs franchise. The coliseum signed an agreement for the North Carolina Farm Bureau to sponsor "Monty" the lion mascot, which makes appearances on the ice and at birthday parties.
According to the terms of the contract, the coliseum gave the Farm Bureau $12,500 in free advertising and tickets in exchange for picking up the $1,200 cost of buying the lion costume.
Contact Matt Williams at 373-7004 or firstname.lastname@example.org