Al Guido speaks during an on-stage interview with VenuesNow’s Don Muret.
Al Guido, co-managing partner and CEO of Elevate Sports Ventures and president of the San Francisco 49ers, said that despite the industry’s emphasis on premium seating, it’s a mistake for any venue to focus only on ultra-exclusive guests.
“If you only concentrate on premium you have missed the boat,” Guido said. “It’s the distressed inventory in the middle that you have to watch out for.”
He spoke in an on-stage interview Tuesday at the VenuesNow Conference in New York City.
Guido cautioned that what premium guests really want is access and benefits, not necessarily a good seat to watch the game.
Opened just a year and a half ago, Elevate has over 20 clients and 100 employees.
“Business models can change overnight in this business,” he said. Because something worked once doesn’t mean it will work again, and reinvention is crucial to staying relevant.”
Creating the right type of experience at soccer stadiums has been an eye-opener.
“We’ve really had to think through the atmosphere,” he said. “An MLS venue is not the same as an NFL venue, and what’s worked in the NFL may not be the best way to go in a MLS facility.”
Guido said that contemporary venue design is being driven squarely by the modern fan experience and discussed how Levi’s Stadium is creating a “living room field level concept” where fans will be able to get up close and personal with the team by standing in a roped-off section of the field, and he described how his father was like a kid in a candy store when he got the opportunity to watch a game standing on the sidelines.
Another tip Guido shared: Look at areas in your venue occupied by something that isn’t adding to the bottom line.
“We’ve got our offices sitting in prime real estate and (are) looking at what we can put there,” he said.
He also mentioned a $50 million-$100 million renovation plan that Levi’s Stadium is putting together. “We want a Super Bowl and we want to make a World Cup bid,” he said, for when soccer’s biggest event comes to the U.S. along with Canada and Mexico in 2026.
“Levi’s Stadium does more events than any other stadium in the country,” he said. “We didn’t build this state-of-the-art facility for 12 games a year.”
Guido is monitoring legalized gambling with great interest and is looking forward to California allowing it.
“What I’m really starting to think about is what we can do to make that fan come wager in-venue and not out-of-venue,” he said.