Innovative Partnerships Group wins Suns agency shootout

Originally published in Sports Business Journal.

Jeff Marks’ Innovative Partnerships Group has won an agency shootout to assist the Suns in selling title to the city-owned downtown Phoenix arena, per SBJ's Terry Lefton. The Suns own all their media rights, so the package could be reasonably customized. Sources said the team was going out with an asking price of around $9 million a year and seeking a minimum 10-year deal.

The venue opened in 1992 as America West Arena and has since had various nameplates, including US Airways CenterTalking Stick Resort Arena and PHX Arena. More recently, it's been called Phoenix Suns Arena, largely as a placeholder. The facility is undergoing a $230 million renovation, about 80% of which is completed, with the rest scheduled to be finished before the next NBA season.

Suns CRO Dan Costello said IPG's "ability to story tell" was key in the selection. "They really understood our vision,” he said. To date, that vision, supported by corporate sponsors PayPal and Verizon, has been one of positioning the arena as a tech hub, “showcasing innovation and serving the increasingly digital savvy fans,” Costello said. As a result of Arizona in April becoming the 26th state to legalize sports betting, the arena will reopen with a 6,300-square-foot sportsbook.

The Suns’ gaudy 51-win season, their best in more than a decade, should help sell the naming rights. Costello said it has already propelled the team to a league-leading number of new season tickets sold this year.

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