Analysis: Merge Milwaukee's Mile, PGA and Wave?
By Jay Sorgi
A race track with more than 100 years of history, looking for a new promoter; without it, Milwaukee could lose NASCAR and IRL racing.
A golf tournament in its fifth decade, searching for a title sponsor; without it, Milwaukee could lose the PGA.
A championship-contending soccer team in its third decade, but looking for new investors; without them, Milwaukee could lose top-level professional soccer of any type.
What do they have in common? They're not among the big three sports in Southeastern Wisconsin, which at the professional level have some semblance of security (as long as Bucks owner and U.S. Senator Herb Kohl is alive, at least).
Therefore, they're major victims of the economy.
How can they survive? Of course, new investors are critical to success.
However, I wonder if one other method has not yet been considered.
It's the same method that Miller and Coors used to stay financially viable, even if it cost jobs in the Brew City and forced the corporate headquarters south to the land of our Friendly Illinois Buddies.
But it's a word rarely used in sports: a merger.
Merging the operations of sports with divergent audiences? Would you ever expect one company to successfully cater to the stereotypical Natural Light-drinking, Richard Petty-worshiping NASCAR fan, the multi-million dollar business executive who imbibes in Dom Perignon in the clubhouse at the pristine private country club and the soccer mom who feeds kids Capri-Sun or Kool-Aid?
You wouldn't think so, but each of these three groups have successfully navigated choppy waters and sometimes not-so-great crowds in the past to bring key sponsors in over many years and keep these operations afloat.
What are the advantages to such an arrangement?
1) One sales staff handling all the events. You have sales specialists who know how to work with their specific clients, and can now market package deals to companies which give them broader audiences - more bang for their buck. They're not just selling for one event, but all three, over a long period of a year.
We here with WTMJ have such a sales staff, and they work wonders on a regular basis with our coverage of the Packers, Brewers and Bucks.
2) One event and PR staff handling all the events. Yes, car races, golf tournaments and soccer games are rather different, but they're all events, entertainment experiences, and to have one staff handling them could again put people in position over an entire year to successfully do what they do best.
In both, there's one big advantage: saving money. You don't have to have separate staffs hired to do each event.
I'm not sure how one organization would specifically be structured - a non-profit, limited liability or a single owner - but however it would work, it might make things a lot more streamlined and a lot less expensive to run these events.
That way, the burden on finding sponsors might not be so huge, in order to keep these events in town.
Dan Croak, Keith Tozer and the Milwaukee Mile folks might want to get together over a couple bottles of champagne, a case of Natty Light and a 12-pack of Juicy Juice and bring their fantastic minds together.
It might be a way to keep these three events together - and alive - in Milwaukee.