Raycom Sports is partnering with a new company formed by four motorsports veterans on a joint venture that will produce live sports and entertainment touring properties and related creative content.
Raycom-Legacy Content Co. is a partnership between Raycom, an independent sports marketing, event management and production firm based in Charlotte, N.C., and Legacy Motorsports Events, which was co-founded in March by entertainment and motorsports executives Ken Hudgens, Tim Murray, Eric Cole and Bob Boggess.
The new venture, which will be based in Charlotte, will tap into Legacy’s expertise in creating live sports and entertainment events and Raycom’s strength in content production and distribution. Raycom-Legacy also will license new tours with existing entertainment properties.
Hudgens will serve as president and CEO of the venture. He said the partnership was a natural fit for both companies. Legacy’s small team has decades of experience in “the blocking and tackling” of live events, including booking, marketing, selling sponsorships and show production, he said, while Raycom has sophisticated content creation capabilities, as well as the organizational structure to help a start-up organization find its footing.
Hunter Nickel, CEO of Raycom Sports, agreed that the companies complemented each other.
“The Legacy team builds huge, fun live events that audiences love and partners prioritize,” Nickel said in a press release. “We have a tenacious, motivated team that knows how to create, market and distribute content. It’s a great combination.”
Each of Legacy’s co-founders formerly worked for Feld Entertainment, the Florida-based live show production company. Cole, Murray and Hudgens each left Feld in 2016 and have been working together ever since, Hudgens said. Boggess left Feld last year.
Hudgens said the Legacy-Raycom partnership was a good fit for the fledgling group because “retaining ownership into whatever kind of relationship that we entered into was important.”
Hudgens said the new venture originated in part from his working relationship with Nickell across a variety of entities over the years. Hudgens said Legacy saw a rare opportunity in Raycom to work with a company with the resources and experience to produce and distribute a variety of content that can supplement the production of live events.
“Those are all areas that the Raycom folks have an expertise in that I don’t and nobody on my team has,” Hudgens said. “So they will really take the lead in anything that we undertake from all things content. Raycom checks that box and will make sure the partnership covers that area in a positive way.”
Hudgens said creative content for fans has become an essential component to live sports and entertainment. Engaging with fans outside of the venue requires new strategies in multimedia and social media, among other fields.
“It’s crucial that we engage with people not only to build brands but from a transactional standpoint to sell tickets,” Hudgens said. “It's just radically changed. Twenty years ago it was television and radio and you were covered. It's obvious that’s not good enough anymore, and there’s a whole new way of engaging fans both in brand building and the blocking and tackling of selling tickets. And so Raycom will be incredibly helpful with that.”
Hudgens said Legacy-Raycom will work on a variety of sports and entertainment offerings. The background of Legacy’s founders in motorsports, particularly monster trucks, makes that “a natural place for us to start,” he said.
Motorsports “hasn't been just a job or a career for me. It's been a lifelong passion of mine,” Hudgens said. “So I think naturally we will gravitate to what we know and start there in some way, shape or form. We'll have some announcements regarding that coming up soon.”
Raycom-Legacy plans to be more than a motorsports organizer, however. “We have been involved in all forms of live family entertainment throughout our careers, and we’re not going to be pigeonholed into just doing one thing,” Hudgens said. “So organically creating new live content to take out and tour is something that we're looking at, and licensing intellectual property that we can then take out and tour is also something that we think that we would be good at and have an interest in. So I think you'll see us sort of attack it from both ways.”
Hudgens said Raycom’s capabilities and background could lead to “live touring possibilities more akin to what they know, such as ‘stick-and-ball’ kind of things that we package up and take out.”
“Nothing's really off the table,” Hudgens said. “There's a national opportunity for our team given our backgrounds in motorsports and monster trucks specifically, but we're not going to want to be limited long term to just putting a fence around that and that’s all we do. We've got much bigger aspirations than that.”
Hudgens said Raycom-Legacy will focus on offering shows that appeal to families. Key to that approach will be keeping ticket prices on the low end. Raycom-Legacy will be “a volume business” and will not be searching for a peak price point, instead aiming to generate revenue with large crowds, he said.
“There's a difference between what you can sell a ticket for and what you should sell it for,” Hudgens said. “And so we'll focus on the ‘should’ in order to build our audience.”
Also critical to Raycom-Legacy finding long-term success in the family-friendly niche will be “finding the right partners to accentuate and help us communicate our message,” Hudgens said. In order to build an audience and get families to return year after year, Hudgens said the new venture will need to create a consistency to the events and a sustained emphasis on value.
“It's a long row to hoe doing events to build and build and build your audience,” Hudgens said. “People have to come, have a great experience at the event and then feel good about it and hopefully come back next year. That will always be a part of building these events. I think that if we can do all that, we'll have a successful run at this.”