Celebrity support, strategic media outreach score major win for Nassau Events Center

Nassau Events Center aimed to win the bid to renovate and operate the 41-year-old Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island's Nassau County.

Organization: Nassau Events Center
Campaign
: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum renovation bid
Duration
: April-August 2013
Budget
: $15,000

Forest City Ratner Companies affiliate, Nassau Events Center, aimed to win the bid to renovate and operate the 41-year-old Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island's Nassau County, a $229 million development project. Forest City Ratner is the developer of Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

For the bid, Barry Baum, chief communications officer of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets, and communications manager Mandy Gutmann led communications for Nassau Events Center and its partners including Blumenfeld Development Group and Shop Architects, who worked on the Barclays Center, as well as Live Nation, Jay Z's company Roc Nation, and food service company Legends.

Strategy
As one of four bidders, Nassau Events Center looked to differentiate itself and led the conversation with aggressive outreach, building off the recent buzz of the Barclays Center's success.

Tactics
Developer Bruce Ratner, executive chairman of Forest City Ratner, and Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark conducted interviews on Bloomberg Television, CNBC, Fox Business Network, The Couch, and Pix 11 Morning News about their plans for the redesigned arena.

The renovations were positioned as a financial boon to the community and the group's ability to replicate the same positive experience as the Barclays Center was a huge talking point for Long Island media.

The bidding team brought Jay Z to its presentation to the Long Island Business Advisory Council. Three other bidders pitched for the arena contract. When opposing bidder and developer Ed Blumenfeld joined the team in the final stages, the group hosted a conference in Mineola, NY, with local reporters to announce the new partnership.

"We wanted to create the sense that we felt very confident," explains Baum.

The communications team leveraged every news element of the bid to top relevant media including Billboard about plans for music concerts; ESPN.com about bringing future boxing cards to the venue; and Sports Business Journal about a proposal to bring six NHL Islander games back to the coliseum.

"It was important to get the word out and get ahead of the competition, so we could lead the message," says Baum.

Nassau Events Center ran advertisements in Newsday and Long Island Business News in the form of a letter to readers signed by Ratner and Yormark.

Results
The media coverage created credibility for the group's proposal, including stories on CNBC, Bloomberg News, ESPN, WOR Radio, WCBS Radio, and in the Daily News, New York Post, and Newsday, among others.

On August 16, Nassau County executive Ed Mangano announced Nassau Events Center had won the bid, beating out Madison Square Garden Co. and expanded on details of the plan, which also include an entertainment and retail center.

"Our goal was to not only drive the conversation about our plan, but also about the Nassau Coliseum and the region," says Baum. "We delivered on that."

Future
Nassau Events Center will begin the building process in June 2015 with a projected opening in 2017.

PRWeek's View
The two-person team of Baum and Gutmann leveraged every element of the story to relevant media, creating a far-reaching ripple effect for the campaign's messaging. Key spokespeople from a number of partners created a strong sense of support for the project. And it never hurts to have a celebrity icon such as Jay Z show up for the bid proposal. Talking points smartly focused on the benefits the project would bring to the local community, the most important being its financial boon.

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