USA Today gets into sports-event ticket business


I think fans everywhere agree that there are a huge number of sporting events that they would be interested in attending, at least once in their life, but finding out how to apply for tickets much less working your way through the red tape will always be an impediment.

Now leaping to the (possible) rescue is USA Today Sports Media Group which has teamed with QuintEvents to launch a joint venture called USA Today Sports Events that promises access to the biggest sports events.

The effort seeks to establish USA Today Sports as the go-to site for fans looking for tickets and packages to events such as the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby and the NBA All-Star game, among others.

It does not just offer tickets but much more in some cases such as access to players and coaches, the ability to walk a field or arena prior to an event, hospitality tent and parties access, and other amenities. The packages it offers are not third-party ones that cobble together hotels, seats and transportation but ones from the official sponsors of the events.

A look at the website shows it is offering tickets for the upcoming Super Bowl next year, with a clock counting down the days, hours and minutes. It has a link to different ticket packages, then a second to extras that can be added to your package, then a seating chart and so on. Currently tickets max out at $11,799 each.

The Level White Package starts with seats at $5,899 and has seats in the corner of level 100 at MetLife Stadium. The amenities include a $100 In-Stadium Super Bowl XLVIII merchandise coupon, preferred on-location parking (for an addition fee for the actual parking) and access to the NFL On-Location venue.

It does seem that all but well-heeled fans are increasingly phased out of the modern sports picture and while I like the idea of this and if I had the cash might actually try and use the service but increasingly fans of teams are the last that get served by the leagues when the biggest events come around, forcing them to try all sorts of maneuvers to get tickets. Maybe USA Today can also start a business finding bargain seats for real fans who aren’t loaded with cash?

ESPN has Big Month of Tennis Broadcasts


With several important tennis events in the next few weeks ESPN will be featuring a total of 14 consecutive days of broadcasts as the tennis world ramps up for the big clay court event at the end of the month, the French Open.

The preliminaries are the ATP World Tour event, the Mutua Madrid Open that is being held in Madrid, and which started this morning and run until Sunday, May 12. Of course with the time zone difference the events will be mostly very early morning viewing for American fans who can tune into ESPN3 for the matches. The championship broadcast will start at 10:00 am ET on the 12th.

Among the top players participating in the Mutua Madrid Open are some of the top ranked men and women players in the world including Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na.

This will be followed by the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, with some of the schedule still undecided at this time. This tournament, held in Rome, will start on May 13 and continue until the championship broadcast on Sunday, May 19 at 10 am ET.

Overall the network will feature 200 hours of tennis broadcasting from those two tournaments, and this will all naturally lead into the French Open later in the month. The outcome of these earlier tournaments helps dictate rankings of that and other Grand Slam events that will also be broadcast on ESPNs network of channels and online properties. ESPN will be broadcasting the French Open on ESPN2 starting Sunday, May 26.

Want to Follow the French Open Online or Mobile? Here is how

The French Open has started today with warmup match play and as with the Australian Open there is a wide range of options for fans looking to follow the tournament played at Roland-Garros that will run until June 10th.

To start with is a very nicely designed web page, that is easy to navigate and clearly explains where you going. There are nice minor touches such as providing the weather in Paris as well as the time. Then there are the more expected features such as listing the draws, providing past scores and live updates, as well as a number of guides to the event, the players as well as a radio feature.

In the Fan Zone there are a number of photo contests including Fan of the Day and Guess Who as well as a daily quiz and regular blog postings. You can follow the Twitter feed at Rolandgarros and of course there is also a Facebook and Google + page as well

For the truly mobile there is an updated free app for both iOS and Android users called Roland-Garros 2012. It features a 3D tour of the facility and has games that users can play and post scores from. Starting on May 25th the app will also provide all the Twitter feed from the stadium, Facebook connectivity and real time statistics.

Also included will be results schedules, draws, news, videos and interviews as well as match alerts for up to 5 players. Included in the video provided will be daily highlights of the day’s events.

For those that have the opportunity to watch matches at home on the television the matches will be carried by a variety of networks in the United States including ESPN 2, NBC, The Tennis Channel and TV5.