We're In For 2018
We are thrilled to announce that we will be back at the College Football Playoff Championship in 2018! This time, we're heading to Atlanta. Below you will find an article posted in the Sports Business Journal about our involvement in the 2018 National Championship.
Two incumbents win assignments to run CFP fan events in Atlanta
The College Football Playoff is bringing back a pair of familiar sports and entertainment agencies to manage the CFP’s fan events at the Atlanta championship in January.
The Etzel Agency and Solomon Group were picked from a list of eight to 10 challengers to run the CFP’s Playoff Playlist Live concerts in Centennial Olympic Park, the Fan Central fan fest in the Georgia World Congress Center, and the Championship Plaza in front of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Specifically, Solomon Group will produce the concerts and fan fest, which will stretch from Jan. 6-8 (Saturday-Monday). Etzel Agency will oversee all sponsor-related operations, as well as the plaza, a new feature this year that will replace the Championship Tailgate.
Colonnade Group, the Birmingham, Ala.-based firm that produced Fan Central the first three years for CFP, was not brought back for Atlanta.
All of the fan events and the game will be within walking distance of one another for the first time in the CFP’s fourth year of existence.
“It’s going to be the most unified, cohesive branded experience that we’ve had for the fans,” said Bill Hancock, the CFP’s executive director.
Etzel and Solomon have worked with the CFP since the playoff format launched in 2015, producing concerts and other fan events, but previous host sites Dallas, Phoenix and Tampa didn’t have Atlanta’s consolidated downtown footprint, meaning their events were more spread out.
Tampa created its own championship campus last January by putting its fan events along the Riverwalk, but the game at Raymond James Stadium was still several miles away.
Atlanta is repeating the Championship Campus idea by putting all of the fan events close together, and this time it will include the venue for the Jan. 8 national championship game.
“The fans will be able to experience the events, potentially all in the same day, without ever getting in a vehicle,” said Tom Etzel, principal partner of the Oregon-based firm named after him. Executives from Etzel and Solomon have already met in Atlanta several times this year, they said, and they collaborate by phone multiple times per week.
Previous major sporting events in Atlanta, such as the NCAA’s Final Four and the SEC football championship, have utilized a similar footprint for entertainment and sponsor activation in close proximity.
Perhaps the biggest change will be the days of the CFP weekend, which is moving to a Saturday-Monday format for Atlanta. In previous years, fan events ran Friday-Sunday, but fan events did not operate on the Monday of the game.
The Championship Tailgate on Monday was for ticket holders only because it was inside the stadium’s secure perimeter.
In Atlanta, all of the events will be outside the stadium’s secure perimeter, meaning fans will not need a ticket to the game to attend the fan fest or concerts on any day, including game day.
CFP organizers also expect attendance for fan events to increase because Friday was typically a light day. In Atlanta, with fan events starting Saturday and staying open on game day, officials think they will easily surpass the total of 37,000 fans who went to Fan Central and the 55,000 fans who attended Playoff Playlist Live in Tampa.
“With everything together into one Championship Campus, you’re going to feel the downtown energy,” said Gary Solomon, president and co-founder of the New Orleans-based agency. “It’s going to make for an even better fan experience.”
The biggest difference in the production will be on game day, when Playlist Live in Centennial Park will transform from a concert venue to a huge watch party for the championship game.
At halftime, the cameras will shift from inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the Playlist Live stage, where the halftime entertainment will perform for the live audience and ESPN’s cameras. Solomon Group is working with Michael T. Fiur Productions, which takes the lead on securing the talent. Acts for the CFP have not been announced.
The Championship Campus also will allow ESPN, which handles CFP sponsorship sales, to potentially create new inventory (see related story). ESPN hosted the CFP sponsor summit last month when the concept of the Championship Campus in Atlanta was introduced.
AT&T is expected to return as title sponsor of Playlist Live.