Rays form Sunburst Entertainment Group
When the Tampa Bay Rays first introduced that they were going into partnership with the United Football League earlier this season, it seemed like an odd marriage of the two sports. Not only did it seem a bit odd that the Rays were only going to host one game at Tropicana Field that season, but the aspect of getting into a multi-sport ownership relationship at the time seemed to be odd at best.
The team originally decided to acquire ownership stakes in the Florida Tuskers of the new UFL venture. The newly formed Sunburst Entertainment Group will begin with baby stepson the ground floor of the highly competitive field of multiple sports management. The creation of this new arm of the Rays front office machine will push them into new directions to bring more high quality, affordable and family-oriented entertainment to Tropicana Field after and maybe even during the Rays seasons.
When this venture was first announced about a month ago, I was at first skeptical of the total involvement of the team’s ownership in such a bold and virginal adventure in this new league. People still have some open wounds from the disbanding of the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies and the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits and some in the community did not see the correlation of this league in conjunction with the NFL. Some people have commented that this newly formed league might morph into a lower level feeder system to keep ex-professional and non-drafted athletes in shape and give them game situations to prove they could play the game at the highest level.
But that is not the only reason for the formulation of this sports and entertainment group. For its main attraction to the Rays will be the added secondary business plan and marketing tool to open new venture and horizons for the Rays and its fan base. Within the last month more light has been shined upon the UFL initial interest by the team and it seems there is a solid foundation where once I envisioned a weakness in the system by the newly formed consulting group.
The multi-faceted future business formulation with the launch of Sunburst Entertainment Group, and their direct involvement in the UFL’s teams operations should help elevate the team’s foothold and ultimate footprint in the sports and entertainment community both locally,and hopefully nationally within time.
The Sunburst Group will be owned by the Rays, and will use a variety of current day-to-day operational functions and business plans currently used by the Rays to attract fans and additional revenues for the team. One of the key areas of the current Rays front office that has risen to the top of its game in the past two seasons is in the top priority of their sales, marketing and promotions departments in formulating a bigger fan base for the team. Using this valuable resource to tap into the well-oiled machine to coordinate and facilitate future non-sporting events to Tropicana Field in the Rays off-season, and during their road trips in the coming years can only be a plus, plus to the Rays management team.
Even though Sunbursts focus right now will be more within the Tampa Bay region, there is an possible future expansion eye toward expansion into reaching farther beyond the Tampa Bay community to become a major player in the sports and entertainment consulting industry. Sunburst will try and duplicate and utilize the highly successful Rays sales, marketing and fan experience groups to establish a strong foundation and in the future coordinate with other area sports and entertainment sources to maybe broaden into cross sports promotions and events.
Sunburst will take upon the task of finding and establishing a growing foundation of non-sporting events throughout the year for Tropicana Field. By standing side-to-side with the Rays current resources and internal expertise, Sunburst will strengthen the Rays opportunities within the region to become more diverse and bring other entertainment options to the Tampa Bay community.
A similar venture was created by their AL East divisional rivals, the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and is currently produced more than $200 million in 2008.
New England Sports Ventures has also established a sports venue fan photography business and has produced cross-marketing postgame concerts promotions for the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.
So there is a firm foundation within the sporting industry for this current venture by the Rays to expand and become a formable player in the Tampa Bay community. The announcement of the Rays joining the ownership of the newly formed Tusker organization was a multi-fold operation, which should take on bigger events and roles within the area in the next few years. It gave the Rays an avenue to explore expanding their sales and marketing tools to utilize and prioritize future revenue streams for the team.