Detroit Pistons give ticket holders on court a new perk: a bar

Detroit Pistons ticket holders with premium court-side seating will no longer have to venture into the lobby of Little Caesars Arena for a beer, cocktail, or meal this coming season.

The Pistons plan to open a three-row full-service bar behind the basket near the visiting team’s bench, the first outdoor bar of its kind in an NBA arena, said Mike Zavodsky, Commercial Director of Pistons Sports and Entertainment.

The bar will be called the CURE Insurance Courtside Club.

CURE, a New Jersey-based carrier that recently entered the Michigan auto insurance market, is the primary sponsor of the latest 4-year arena feature, which will be limited to fans with tickets. in the short side section of LCA in rows 1-3, Zavodsky said.

Gray Goose Vodka will be a presenting sponsor with its logo placed in front of the bar itself.

“It gives our ticket holders on the field the option of not being moved during the match,” Zavodsky said in an exclusive interview with Crain’s. “So you can go for a drink, you can have food while being part of the experience, the excitement and the atmosphere of the arena, without having to enter a club space, which is located under or behind the seating section. “

The court bar, which will have bartenders and a catering service, will force less than 100 seats to be relocated from the portable bleachers that are removed for additional seating during Pistons games. Those seats will be moved to the other side of the field and ticket holders will get upgrades in their change packages, Zavodsky said.

The CURE Insurance Courtside Club will sit where the hockey boards are located for Red Wings games and will not be available for Wings games or concerts, Zavodsky said.

“The building will indeed remain, on this side, in a hockey configuration,” he said.

The terms of the sponsorship agreement with CURE Auto were not disclosed by any of the parties.

“I can’t comment on the financials, but I’ll say it’s a multi-year relationship – they’re going to be with us for a while,” Zavodsky said.

The concept of the court bar was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past season as the Pistons performed in front of extremely limited crowds of 250 fans at the start of winter and 750 fans in recent weeks. spring of the season as state health. department has started to relax restrictions on indoor gatherings, Zavodsky said.

At this point, all indoor capacity limits related to COVID have been lifted for the 2021-22 season, which begins in October.

Zavodsky said the small crowd size prompted the Pistons’ management to rethink how best to use their space in the arena, which was designed for 20,332 seats for basketball games and 19,515 seats. for Red Wings hockey games.

“Often the buildings filled as many seats as possible,” Zavodsky said. “And I think sometimes you have to take a step back and think about what is the best or most useful use and how to create a better experience for people? “

“… The setup we had (for COVID restrictions) made us look at the arena like a blank canvas and we said, ‘Hey, if you could reimagine or reinvent some things, what would you do? And that was one of them, “Zavodsky added.

Zavodsky was able to secure sponsorship with CURE Auto Insurance through a previous working relationship with the insurer’s CEO, Eric Poe.

In Zavodsky’s previous role as head of sales and marketing for BSE Global, the parent company of the Brooklyn Nets, Zavodsky signed a one-year sponsorship deal with Poe and CURE for the Nets’ final season in the New Jersey.

“We couldn’t afford a sponsorship deal with an NBA team except for a year,” the Nets stayed in New Jersey, said Poe. “They were like, ‘We can’t get one person to sponsor the New Jersey Nets knowing that everyone is going to Brooklyn.'”

At the time, Poe said he saw an opportunity to expand his family insurance company, which insures 40,000 vehicles in New Jersey and just under 5,000 vehicles in Pennsylvania.

CURE Auto Insurance also purchased a separate sponsorship to put its logo on the Pistons team backdrop used for post-game press conferences at home and on the road.

With the Pistons having two consecutive 20-game winning seasons, Poe said sponsorship with the Pistons provides an opportunity to gain brand recognition in the market.

“I think there’s a lot of promising going on with the Pistons,” Poe said in a recent interview with Crain’s. “So I kind of believe in the buy low, sell high model, and I feel like the Pistons are buying low right now.”

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