Saturday, September 5, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Tailgating at Gillette

Now that the stadium has been cleaned up for the opener this Thursday:

"Patriots seek to bring party from tailgate to lounges; In its $30m upgrade, Gillette Stadium added three bars that cater to season ticket holders, the corporate set, and average fans" by Callum Borchers Globe Staff  September 05, 2015

While tailgaters shiver outside Gillette Stadium before Patriots games this season, 750 season ticket holders will peer through a wall of windows inside the Optum Field Lounge, watching players warm up from behind the south end zone.

That would be me if I attended a game.

On the arena’s main concourse, near the north end zone light house, a mostly corporate crowd of 500 will fill up on food and beverages in the all-inclusive Cross Insurance Pavilion & Business Center.

Why not? The whole society should exist to serve them -- and does.

And in the DraftKings Fantasy Sports Zone, also on the main concourse, 400 regular fans will choose from a dozen craft brews on tap, surrounded by 35 televisions showing other NFL games and streams of fantasy football statistics.


Sports Fanta$y
Patriots Are DraftKings
Crack of Dawn
This Draft Crowns the Day

How much it co$t?

Together, the three new hangouts, part of a $30 million offseason renovation, will offer up to 1,650 paying customers a more comfortable — and more expensive — alternative to grilling food and drinking beer in icy parking lots.

Yes, we want them all warm and cozy!

“There are those who want to tailgate, and this offering is not for them,” said Jen Ferron, the team’s senior vice president for marketing and brand development. “But some fans told us, ‘I prefer to have an indoor, climate-controlled space. I prefer to have concessions. I don’t want to be standing in a parking lot.’ We’ve done all the work for you, and you basically show up.”

It truly is a have- and have-not $ociety these days.

The Patriots are not alone in tempting fans — many of whom arrive hours before kickoff to eat and drink, anyway — to spend more inside the stadium by doing their pregame consumption there.

DraftKings-branded fantasy sports zones will also be added this season to AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, and Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Cowboys already have a field-level club, similar to the Patriots’ new Optum lounge, through which players and coaches walk on their way to the field — a signature feature of the arena since it opened in 2009.

MetLife Stadium, shared by the New York Jets and Giants, has a field-level club of its own behind the home bench. The Baltimore Ravens serve pregame fare in the Bud Light Party Zone and Talon Pub, two bars available for group rentals.

“They’d like to be able to capture that revenue, instead of having all that pregame spending on food and drink take place outside the stadium,” said Rodney Paul, who teaches sports facility management at Syracuse University. “Every incremental revenue source, however small it might seem for a billionaire owner, can still be worthwhile.”

That's how they became billionaires, right?

Teams in other sports are introducing pregame lounges, too, including the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks next season. The Red Sox sell pregame packages on the Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck that include premium food and a tour of Fenway. 

No worry regarding the booze problem, 'eh?

But the NFL has built a stronger tailgate culture than other leagues around a smaller number of games. Each franchise hosts only eight during the regular season.

Football teams are increasingly trying to capitalize on the status of games as all-day events.

“Many people are there for the social aspect as much as the sporting event itself,” said Michael Mondello, who teaches sports and entertainment finance at the University of South Florida. “It’s also about keeping up with the competition.”

Or, perhaps, not having to share with the competition. Unlike national broadcasting rights fees, money earned on naming rights, concessions, and premium tickets is not subject to the NFL’s revenue-sharing system, meaning the Patriots can keep most of what they collect.

Membership in the Optum Field Lounge is available only to season ticket holders as a $1,500 add-on (three-year packages come at a reduced rate of $1,250 per person, per year). The Patriots created the 20,000-square-foot space by removing about 1,500 seats, a move that upset some displaced fans, though they were offered different seats and the first opportunity to buy in to the lounge, which is sold out.

Members can head to their seats at kickoff, remain in the lounge to watch the action, or move back and forth between locations.

The Cross pavilion caters to corporate clients, but individuals can purchase memberships, too, and they need not own season tickets. At $6,000 per person, membership includes a ticket to every home game — effectively letting the buyer cut the line on a season ticket waiting list that exceeds 60,000 people — and unlimited food and drink during two-hour pregame receptions.

At kickoff, the pavilion opens to all fans as a cash bar.

The pavilion and lounge, each with a 1,000-person capacity for private functions, will also be available for rent on nongame days. Patriots executives said they envision hosting conferences, trade shows, proms, and galas in the spaces.

The DraftKings Fantasy Sports Zone, an outdoor space with three walls and a roof, will open along with stadium gates two hours before kickoff. No exclusive membership is required — just a willingness to shell out $10 for a glass of Rebel IPA or Hoponius Union.

“Here’s the scenario I see happening for a 4 o’clock game,” said Jim Nolan, the Patriots’ senior vice president of operations, finance and administration: “People tailgate through the first half of the 1 o’clock games, then they pack up their tailgate, come in here and say, ‘Let’s go to DraftKings and watch the second half.’ ”

Then why even bother going to the game?


Meanwhile, there is more nonsense about Brady (yes, reality is a bit more complex than the easy narrative) that made the front page again.

I'm closing the playbook on that:

"Federal law enforcement officials have opened a criminal investigation into alleged attempts by former HubSpot Inc. executives to obtain a pre-publication draft of a book about the Cambridge company, according to people with knowledge of the matter. An assistant US attorney in Boston and an FBI cybercrimes agent are working on the case, the people said. The probe is at a preliminary stage and it isn’t clear whether criminal charges could result, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter. HubSpot, which sells marketing and sales software, is one of the most prominent companies to emerge from the Boston area’s technology sector in the past decade. The affair has captivated the tech community because...." 

I hope that hit the Hubspot for you

Time for me to have my lunch:

"From eggs to trees, USDA promotional programs controversial" by Mary Clare Jalonick Associated Press  September 05, 2015

WASHINGTON — The slogans are familiar: ‘‘The Incredible Edible Egg,’’ “Pork: The Other White Meat,’’ and ‘‘Got Milk?’’

Isn't there a problem with eggs right now?

Thing is, I rarely consume any of those.

They’ve all been part of promotional campaigns overseen by the Agriculture Department and paid for by the industries that vote to organize them. While the idea is simple — an industrywide promotional campaign at no cost to the government — they’ve often generated controversy, been misunderstood, and at times have operated with little oversight.

The egg industry is the latest to draw scrutiny after it appears to have waged a campaign to hurt sales of an eggless imitation mayonnaise. According to e-mail documents provided to the Associated Press, the American Egg Board tried to prevent Whole Foods grocery stores from selling Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo spread and engaged in other efforts to counter the brand.

You'd think Whole Foods is like a Boston bar.

According to the documents, American Egg Board chief executive Joanne Ivy e-mailed a consultant in 2013 saying she would accept his offer ‘‘to make that phone call to keep Just Mayo off Whole Foods shelves.’’ The effort was apparently unsuccessful as Whole Foods still sells the product.

In a statement Thursday, USDA spokesman Sam Jones-Ellard said the department is looking into the documents and ‘‘does not condone any efforts to limit competing products in commerce.’’ But he didn’t say if USDA would take any action, and it’s unclear if the egg board’s communications would violate legal requirements for research and promotion programs.

According to the law, USDA is tasked with making sure that the quasi-government boards stay away from disparaging other commodities and from campaigning for legislation or regulation. The idea is that the campaigns stay promotional, not negative.

In addition to the egg board, there are about 20 other programs — also known as ‘‘checkoffs’’ — from the Mushroom Council to the National Honey Board to the National Christmas Tree Promotion Board. USDA’s oversight responsibilities include ensuring fiscal responsibility, program efficiency and fair treatment for all sectors of the industries that decide to form boards.

Came with the slice of pizza I had for lunch!!! 

Thanks for picking up the tab, consumers and taxpayers!

In 2012, USDA’s inspector general issued a report saying the department needed to improve its oversight. Specifically, the audit said the department should be able to better detect the misuse of board checkoff funds and gather more information from the boards to assess their activities. The report cited examples of employee bonuses and travel expenses that did not fall under department guidelines. USDA said it would make improvements. 


Some of the programs have been challenged in court. In 2008, a judge barred the egg board from spending money to campaign on a proposition in California. And the USDA is currently defending itself in a federal lawsuit that alleges the National Pork Board cut a deal to help fund a nongovernmental pork association that lobbies lawmakers.

Hampton Creek chief executive Josh Tetrick maintains that USDA oversight of the boards is lax, and has called for a congressional investigation. In the e-mails, one egg board executive appeared to joke about having Tetrick killed.


Tetrick’s company, which markets itself as promoting more healthful eating, provided the documents to the AP after they were obtained on a public records request by Ryan Noah Shapiro, a Freedom of Information Act expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Oh, it is a matter of public record, huh? 

Good thing MIT can find it out.


As usual, what is on the Globe menu tastes like $hit.