On a recent Friday in March, the Commissioners Club at MetLife Stadium was filled with fans enjoying some of the greatest competition in sports. The stadium videoboards blazed away with game action, and the athletic drama was as palpable as it is during a Fall Sunday.
Fans had come to MetLife not to watch football, they came to watch day two of the men's college basketball tournament. Was this some kind of bait and switch, a new event being tested in the stadium to host a future Final Four?
Not exactly. It was the latest, and most unique, networking event the team was able to create and deliver for a very special group of supporters… premium suite partners. After almost 24 months of virtual events, the team literally opened the doors and had clients come in and enjoy an early spring Friday of food, events and networking.
When onboarding new suite clients to the team, the Premium Partnerships team asks, "What can we do to help put you, your business and your partners in a position for success through all our relationships not just our team on the field and in the front office, but what our community has to offer," said Mary Cate McGillicuddy, Senior Manager, Premium Partnerships, Service and Retention. "The result has been the creation of events big and small to gather likeminded, ambitious and forward-thinking partners together, sometimes in very nontraditional ways, to meet and grow relationships through the business of sports."
Throughout the year, the Jets look to expand the relationships beyond the traditional, hosting a growing series of events to add to the value proposition of what NFL Sundays would have brought in years past.
Many of the events are football-focused (Post-Draft Q&A with the GM, exclusive chalk talks with coaches, dinners/Q&A events with players/alumni/personnel), but a growing number of these events happen far afield of the business of football, ranging from whisky tastings to golf outings, all with a focus on B2B networking to grow relationships and develop business synergies between the partners of the Jets.
To start the spring, the Jets premium suite partnership team decided to go even further outside the traditional, creating a hoops opportunity designed to not just bring partners big and small together to enjoy the NCAA Tournament, but to expose everyone to the unique spaces of MetLife Stadium that they would not normally see during an action packed and busy gameday.
"We fully understand the excitement of a Jets gameday, but more and more, by listening to our partners, we have seen that value, personal and professional, is built on relationships that we can help forge that are not tied to Fall Sundays," added McGillicuddy. "The type of brand and relationship building we can cultivate when football is not top of mind has proven to really be priceless, and the business success stories we can help link together for partners both locally and globally will last well beyond the cheering and joy of football…they are lifelong relationships that will start and grow because of what we can do with the resources at our disposal for our partners."
Hosted in the Commissioners Club at MetLife Stadium, the most premium and most exclusive area of the building, more than 200 guests registered to attend the day, which began with noon tipoffs and went straight through to dinner time. Programming in the club included pop-a-shot basketball games, a standup NBA Jam videogame console, a Madden gaming station, six raffles (held on the hour, every hour) with prizes of autographed Jets merchandise and concert tickets, and the tournament featured on 18 Club TVs as well as multiple extra big-screen TVs which were brought in for easy viewing of multiple games at once. DJ Jon Blak, the Jets gameday DJ, was spinning throughout the event during commercial breaks from the basketball games, while suite doors were open and guests were welcome to sit in the bowl and watch the games on the four videoboards as well. Most importantly, Jets staff supplied networking lists in advance and then were able to facilitate casual business conversations and relationship building sessions for everyone who opted in during the day.
The result was clear…on a day…the first Friday of the men's college basketball tournament… …the Jets found a way to have their business partners score as a team, while not missing any of the action on the courts across the country.