Memphis Grizzlies COO Jason Wexler discusses offseason upgrades to FedexForum

Kevin C. Cox

So you think Jason Levien was proactive in roster moves? The progressive mentality of the Grizzlies ownership permeates the entire organization.

I'm a couple of weeks late getting to this, but I figured it might come in handy for our offseason "dead zone." A while back Jason Wexler went on The Chris Vernon Show for his first radio interview as the Grizzlies COO. Wexler took over a few months ago during the playoffs, and he has been going full on grit'n'grind for the new ownership's first offseason.

I must say that I came away very impressed with Wexler, as I have come to generally expect with most all additions made by Jason Levien. Wexler is deeply rooted in Memphis and worked extensively with Henry Turley Properties on the downtown Memphis renaissance that's taken place over the past 10 years. Wexler attributes a lot of his hiring to the perspective he developed on the Grizzlies and FedexForum while working in close proximity for so long.

The players have bonded with the city, now the franchise itself needs to work hard to develop that same bond.

His philosophy is just what any Memphian wants to hear: The players have bonded with the city, now the franchise itself needs to work hard to develop that same bond. In other words, or one particular word, Grizznosity!!! Which is something I knocked them on a little bit back in our offseason grades. I highly recommend you take a listen to the interview as it may provide you with a much needed injection of excitement for the upcoming NBA season. Some tidbits I took away from the interview:

  • Grizzlies really emphasizing the regional push. 1st preseason game is in St. Louis and training camp will possibly take place in Nashville.
  • Nashville had great TV ratings for the Grizzlies playoff games
  • Regional push includes broadcast range expansion
  • Wexler compared Grizzlies to St. Louis Cardinals, as far as potential goal for type of regional brand. No NBA team in Nashville, Jackson, St. Louis, Little Rock - Grizzlies must capture those audiences.
  • The Grizzlies revenue is spread fairly evenly over ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and media shares
  • Tickets will be going paperless. Meaning, you will either print out your ticket or have it on your smartphone. For season ticket holders, you will have an account manager with your tickets posted. They are still working out details for box office sales, people without internet/email access and people without smartphones. *my guess is that the paper ticket never completely goes away in Memphis, TN.
  • Paperless tickets will allow for a much safer and easier transference of tickets. For instance, if Keith can't make the game Tuesday night and wants to give them to his cousin that lives in Arkansas, he will be able to email them to him directly instead of having to physically meet up with him to exchange the tickets.
  • Wexler said they plan to replace the tickets (especially for season holders) with an alternative collectible item so that people can still take home a souvenir from the game a gratis.
  • Paperless tickets will also allow the Grizzlies to track them more accurately in the secondary market so they know where they are going.
  • FedexForum is looking to expand its food options. This includes a more diverse selection, local partnerships, culinarily enhanced stadium food and the development of a signature dish and drink that will become synonymous with FedexForum.
  • Reasoning behind food expansion is that the Grizzlies, as opposed to big market teams that cycle through a much larger population, i.e., New Yorkers might get to go to see the Knicks play once or twice a year, have a large portion of attendees that go to 20-30 games a year, therefore necessitating a larger selection that won't burnout fans taste buds.
  • FedexForum's beer prices are among the highest in the NBA (we're only 50 cents cheaper than Madison Square Garden), but this is rationalized with our accessible ticket prices. In similar markets, OKC and SAS have beer prices around $5, but they're tickets cost on average $20 and $30 more, respectively.
  • Grizzlies will release their in-game music playlist before each game.
  • Wexler said they are being extremely thorough on their WIFI installation to make sure it runs at 100% capacity with no problems. It really sounds like they've got the superest of geeks working on this stuff. You know Pera will have no less.
  • Wexler emphasized that they are doing a significant digital overhaul of the entire arena, that includes replacing the old tube televisions with HD flat screens throughout the forum.
  • The Grizzlies have one of the top rated fan experiences in the NBA.

To which I say: if you read this blog and live in the city of Memphis (or anywhere close by) and you have never attended a Grizzlies game at the FedexForum, I strongly urge you to make the trek at least once this season. I absolutely love going to the Grizzlies games, and not just because our team is badass and I stand in line to get autographs from our players. The entire experience is very enjoyable to me, and this is coming from someone who, in general, hates going into crowded public places. I can honestly say there are maybe a total of 30 seconds that I'm not being actively entertained while inside the Grindhouse.

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