Georgia Tech has signed one of the most comprehensive rights partnerships in college sports in a long-term deal with Legends.
In a rare move, the Yellow Jackets combined their traditional multimedia rights, which includes corporate sponsorship, with ticket sales and marketing, premium seating sales, fundraising, events, hospitality and e-commerce. They are all included in the arrangement with Legends, with the hope of exceeding the school’s estimated $6 million per year received from its current multimedia rights deal with Learfield IMG College.
“All of their revenue streams are going to be flowing in the same direction now,” said Michael Behan, Legends’ vice president of sales. “It’s probably a first-of-its-kind deal in college sports.”
The Yellow Jackets previously outsourced the rights to different partners. In addition to the Learfield deal for multimedia rights, The Aspire Group had ticketing, Fanatics handled e-commerce and Georgia Tech managed seating and events in-house.
Now, all of those revenue-generating functions will be under one umbrella with Legends, which is making an aggressive push into the college rights space with more deals expected to be announced soon. Financial terms with Georgia Tech were not released. The Learfield deal is in its final year, with Legends assuming the rights on July 1, 2021. The structure of the Legends deal is believed to be a guarantee plus revenue sharing on its sales.
Chicago-based Navigate consulted with Georgia Tech’s athletic department on the deal.
“Timing is everything, and it’s really exciting to know that we’re going to have a partner like Legends developing a revenue strategy with us as we’re coming out of COVID,” Georgia Tech Athletic Director Todd Stansbury said.
Stansbury, a Tech alum who played linebacker on the football team, wasn’t convinced that this was the best time to take Tech’s multimedia rights to market. But the school’s contract with Learfield IMG College was near an end, and the Yellow Jackets had to make a move, pandemic or not.
Stansbury was pleasantly surprised by the response from the marketplace. Seven companies submitted bids for the Yellow Jackets’ rights, some of which included a guarantee while others were straight revenue-share.
“COVID complicated matters,” Stansbury said. “This is not the kind of decision you want to make from Zoom calls, but that’s what we had to do. Now we can pull all of our revenue levers at once and have them working in conjunction.”
It remains to be seen what kind of revenue increase Legends can generate for the Jackets. Two clear challenges are programming more events at Bobby Dodd Stadium and creating more premium spaces at the stadium, which was built in 1913.
Georgia Tech has sold all of its football premium seating and needs more inventory. CSL, Legends’ project planning business, will review the fan experience at Tech’s football and basketball venues.
“The financial implications of COVID on the schools are well-documented,” Behan said. “Schools are willing to step back and have conversations about revenue and reimagining how they’re going to do that.”
Stansbury’s senior leadership team of Deputy AD Mark Rountree, Senior Associate AD Ayo Taylor-Dixon and CFO Marvin Lewis were involved in the negotiations. Legends also has a joint venture with JMI Sports at Notre Dame for multimedia rights.