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The Seven Golden Secrets Of A Successful Stadium

Introducing Ken Sharp, by Paul Fletcher

Ken Sharp

Ken Sharp is best described as a ‘futurist’. He sees life’s opportunities and openings, streets before us mere mortals. He has been directly involved within the stadium/sports industry in both Australia and the UK since 1998.

Prior to his career in sport he spent 18 years in the Australian jewellery industry in rural New South Wales.

Ken initially trained and qualified as a gemmologist and jewellery valuer before recognising an obsession for selling and later for the art of marketing and merchandising. During that period he and his partners grew their modest two store operation into a chain of twelve across the state.

However in 1998 over a couple of beers in a Sydney pub with his old school pal, Ashley Donlan, he agreed to take a month’s holiday from sales training and the shop floor to assist Ashley with a new and ambitious sales and marketing of a 5,000 ‘business club seats’ project at a new stadium being built in the heart of the Melbourne docklands. The following week, from the moment Ken walked into the vast amphitheatre of the three-quarter built 55,000 seater structure he knew his days in the jewellery industry where over. The thrill and sense of expectancy was intoxicating.

Fifteen months later on the completion of the Colonial Stadium project and upon having helped to secure over $100M for their stadium clients, the Seven Media Network, Ken, his wife and three children were on a Jumbo Jet heading in ‘the old dart’ for a new life to try and establish Bastion Stadium Solutions UK for Ashley’s burgeoning stadium marketing business.

As Managing Director for Bastion UK, the first sales project was meant to be the delivery of a thousand business club seat memberships for a new East Stand in planning at Leeds United’s famous Elland Road Stadium. However within days of arrival it was clear that plans were to change dramatically as the Leeds project leader and Commercial Director had left the building.

The following day the Yorkshire airways and papers were filled with the news that ex-Leeds Commercial Director, Adam Pearson, had taken over the ailing Hull City AFC and had cemented a plan with Hull Council to build a state-of-the-art 24,000-seater stadium for both the Tigers and Hull FC Rugby League teams to share. A few phone calls later and Bastion was back in business. Not quite the glamorous start Ken had hoped for but in hindsight the KC Stadium project proved the perfect testing ground for the Australian business club seat model.

From 2001 until 2006, Ken gained extensive experience in the sales, marketing and management of corporate stadium products including, business club seats, sponsorship products and naming rights across five separate new stadium projects. He has also led over 11 separate stadium research projects including research for Liverpool FC, Leeds United and the City of Birmingham’s bid for the National Football Stadium in 2002. Since his entry into the stadium business, Ken has achieved sales of sporting related sponsorship, naming rights and membership product in excess of £111 million. In Jan 2006 Ken took up the post as Commercial Director of Coventry City FC in order to gain an inside perspective into the day to day machinations of a leading football organisation.

In 2007 Ken headed back home to take up a role as Chief Commercial Director for Sydney FC to help the fledging A-League franchise develop a sustainable platform of commercial inventory and deliver key sponsorship deals.

Following a difference of opinion regarding commercial direction with new SFC owners, Ken headed back to the UK in Nov 2009 to work on the exciting and long awaited American Express Community Stadium project in the rolling South Downs of East Sussex for Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Empire Stadiums as Head of Stadium Sales & Partnerships. At the time of writing this book, the club seats project and sponsorship sales have raised over £16M for the Brighton and Hove Albion ‘Seagulls’.

For more details check-out: www.stadimax.com

Paul Fletcher