Regional business tends to make sports fantasies a reality

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Business co-founders Tom Ellinson, left, and Dean Curtis pose with content material manager Darren Flores, seated, at the Fandeavor offices in the Ogden in downtown Las Vegas Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Fandeavor is a sports marketing and advertising group that sells particular game-day packages to fans.

Huge sports fans often shell out big income to assistance their preferred teams.

They acquire season tickets for home games, fly to away games and stock up on piles of merchandise. At times, they get group tattoos. Their loyalty — and spending — knows no boundaries.

A Las Vegas startup is trying to capitalize on these obsessions by placing hardcore fans even closer to the action.

Fandeavor, a “gameday-expertise firm,” sells fantasy packages for college football and basketball games, NASCAR races and other sporting events. For a number of hundred dollars, clients can purchase behind-the-scenes tours of stadiums or arenas, on-field or on-court access ahead of games, even meet-and-greets with athletes or coaches.

Headed by former Television news reporter Tom Ellingson, Fandeavor has sold a couple hundred packages since it started in August 2012 and inked partnerships with UNLV, Arizona State University and Texas Christian University. The business raised $ 525,000 in investor capital, largely from the VegasTechFund, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s investment group.

Spending hundreds of dollars to get up close and personal with a group may possibly sound crazy to some, but not to Dustin Clark.

The 25-year-old from Shelley, Idaho, flew to Las Vegas in December to watch the Boise State University football group play the University of Washington in the Maaco Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium.

The day before the game, Clark ate lunch with Boise State players and coaches and got on stage for a pep rally at the Fremont Street Experience.

On game day, he went to an ESPN party and got a private tour of the stadium’s locker rooms, media regions and luxury suites. He went on the field and watched players warm up. When it was game time, Clark was on the sidelines — not far from the Boise State players, who won 28-26. He also was invited by an ESPN crew member to cease by the network’s trailer to check out camera gear.

Clark didn’t attend Boise State, but he loves the team. He spends up to $ 3,500 a year going to their football games. His wife got him the $ 500 Fandeavor package as a Christmas/birthday present.

“It was amazing,” he mentioned.

Like numerous other Las Vegas startups, Fandeavor has close ties to Zappos. Members of Fandeavor’s management team — CEO Ellingson, Computer software Developer Dean Curtis and Content Manager Darren Flores — each and every spent 3 years operating at the online retailer.

They utilized to run Fandeavor rent-free from an eighth-floor apartment in the downtown Ogden, courtesy of Hsieh’s Downtown Project but lately moved to Work in Progress, the Downtown Project’s collective workspace on South Sixth Street.

Fandeavor usually designs its fantasy packages with representatives from the host teams but markets and sells them itself. Ellingson’s group keeps 30 to 40 percent of the revenue and provides the rest to the group.

The company’s competitors consist of New York banking giant Citigroup, which delivers fantasy packages to credit card holders, and the day-to-day-offers website Groupon.

At Zappos, Ellingson helped manage the company’s sports advertising efforts. When teams pitched Zappos sponsorship bargains, Ellingson was shown locker rooms, introduced to team executives and offered other exclusive access. He enjoyed the perks and wondered how significantly an typical fan would spend for them.

He and Curtis hatched a program for the startup, and Curtis spent a couple of weeks creating its website.

The 1st fantasy package they sold was for the November 2011 Las Vegas Invitational basketball championship game among UNLV and the University of North Carolina at the Orleans. The package let two fans watch the game from a suite and awarded them an autographed ball, presented at center court during halftime. Two regional UNLV graduates purchased it for in between $ 400 and $ 500 via an on the internet auction.

The Rebels won the game. The purchasers had a excellent time and promised to acquire a couple of packages a year.

“Little did they know, we didn’t genuinely have far more experiences lined up,” Ellingson mentioned.

Much more than a year later, 50 fantasy packages are for sale on Fandeavor’s website.

For $ 750, ten people can play a complete-court pickup basketball game for an hour and use the locker rooms at the Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz., home to Arizona State University.

For $ 799, a fan can watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NRA 500 in Texas from a suite, get a close-up appear at the stock cars and attend drivers’ meetings to hear their methods for the race.

According to the NASCAR listing: “You will not be in a position to get this kind of access anyplace else.”

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