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Mark Donovan Talks Mexico City, Digital Ticketing Expansion, Jersey Changes, and More

Posted Feb 6, 2018

Donovan spoke with the media following the 101 Awards press conference

Last week, Kansas City Chiefs’ Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt spoke from radio row in Minnesota on a variety of topics. These ranged from the game against the Los Angeles Rams next year in Mexico City, to his thoughts on general manager Brett Veach’s first few months on the job, his assessment of the quarterbacks, plus much more.

Then, on Tuesday morning, it was Chiefs’ President Mark Donovan’s turn to take questions.

Following the press conference announcing the winners of the 48th annual 101 Awards, which will take place Saturday, February 24, at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Donovan answered questions from the local media.

Here’s a look at much of what Donovan discussed:

On the game in Mexico City next year:

“It’s a great opportunity to get in front of another fan base. We saw the impact that could have when we were in London (in 2015) and think it can be similar, if not larger, in Mexico City. When you look at the growing population, you look at our growing fan base; we’re trying to attract new fans to the Chiefs. It’s a great opportunity to leverage that not only in Mexico City but the Hispanic market, and we’ll do a lot behind the scenes and in front of the scenes to take advantage of that. In fact, last year we brought on somebody who really has been focusing on Hispanic marketing for us and literally looking at our website from a Hispanic point of view. So, we’ll leverage that even more as we get closer to the game.

“I would tell you from a football operations standpoint; it’s not your typical away game in the sense of going into altitude. So, we’ll look at that and figure out what exactly makes the most sense for travel. There has already been a lot of research. We’ve had conversations with Coach [Reid] and read about the benefit of going there early versus going there late, and there are conflicting theories on that. We’ll look at the history, and we’ll talk to the Patriots. We’ll talk to the Raiders about their experience there (last year) and what could make it more efficient. The good news is it’s not a trip to London in terms of time, so it’ll make it a little easier for us, but we’re going to celebrate it as an international game, and it should be.”

On talking with coach Reid about the game in Mexico City:

“We’ve had a couple of conversations. We pulled up our research. We started having conversations about altitude 10 years ago, and we are updating our research all of the time to look at what’s the impact because we play in Denver, so we look at that and say there are a lot of theories. If you remember, I think it was eight or nine years ago, teams thought about going there for a week and trying to adjust. To date, we have felt that going in later is better, so we’ll probably factor that into Mexico City.”

On the popularity of the Bud Light game day pass:

“We launched the Bud Light game day pass, and it sold out of the allotted amount in three weeks. In fact, we did something with our primetime games, where we had another digital ticket, which wasn’t a season ticket, it was just that game ticket, and we were able to sell through those pretty quickly as well.”

On if they’re going to expand on those seats:

“Yeah, I think you’re going to see a lot more teams do something similar to what we did and I think you’re going to see us try to push the envelope there. We’ve tried to, and I believe we’ve been successful continuing Lamar’s approach to being an innovator. So, we look at things like that and say let’s test it, let’s see. Now we weren’t the first people in sports to do an only digital ticket, but we looked at baseball and said what are you guys doing differently? And we took that technology and applied it to us a little differently.

“Again, going back to that particular one, that accomplished a number of goals. One, we had a partner backing around it with Bud Light creating this social atmosphere. They were trying to get to a game demographic that was more digital. For us, we wanted to test the theory. We also wanted to test the technology. As we go into digital, as more and more tickets come into our building digital, this gave us a way to test it in live time.”

On if there are any jersey changes in the works:

“No. I’m sure Nike will come for us at the league meetings and say we should do something crazy. If history holds true with the Hunt family, I’m not going to see any changes, nor would I argue for them by the way. I think one of the things that make our brand equity not unique, but valuable, is that we’re one of the very few that stick to that tradition and honor that tradition.”

On Thursday night color rush jerseys:

“So, I think if you get into the Thursday night color rush debate, you’re going to get strong opinions from a lot of different views on that. I actually like what we’ve done with the third option of the Thursday color game. I like the all-white, I like the all-red. We’ve done some subtle things with socks that create our own take on it. I like that. I like some of the other teams’ jerseys and uniforms, and I don’t like some of the other jerseys and uniforms on Thursday nights.

“When you talk specifically on if you can sell more, we have a lot of jerseys for sale that we don’t necessarily wear on the field—black jerseys, camo jerseys, etc. There are a bunch of different color feels for that and I think Nike and the licensing know that business better than we ever will, but I think it’s more important to us from a brand standpoint, from an on-field product, that we’re traditional.”

On if there’s a lasting impact from the London game a couple of years ago:

“Yeah. So, from a data standpoint, we’re able to track our fans a lot better. The fans who were over there identified themselves over there. It’s just an awareness for us. At the pub party specifically, we had people coming to us from countries that we would never have targeted and talked about how they are Chiefs fans and we now have ways to communicate with them. We now have opened up opportunities to have communication, to provide content we’re distributing through various digital media ways and then having pretty consistent interaction with our fans.”

On a specific story of a fan from one of those countries:

“We had a gentleman from Spain came up to us at the Pub (in London), and he told us his history of being a Chiefs fan, and it started with the Chiefs have the same exact colors as his favorite soccer club in Spain. He’s now been to Arrowhead five times, and he claims to be the first one to buy a ticket for our game in London. So, pretty sure he’s going to be in Mexico City as well. So, it’s a great story for us. It’s a great example of the power of the fan base, so things like that sort of identify themselves because of opportunities like this.”

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