Great licensing ideas and opportunities exist in more than just toys. The genius of licensing is digging down to the essence of a property and finding creative ways to bring it to the masses. Here is one such story!
In three short years, Dave Andres, president and ceo of Stadium Associates has carefully built his own "field of dreams."
This entrepreneurial spirit took a simple licensing idea and fertilized it into a flourishing business model whereby he partners with sports teams/venues on unique game-used sod and turf collectibles that fans can use in their own backyard.
Here's a instant replay of the action: Back in spring 2007, DeLea Sod Farms planted three varieties of 100% Kentucky Bluegrass on a special 80-acre farm in Southern New Jersey. Rick DeLea, the Official Sod Supplier to the New York Yankees worked with Frank Rossi, PhD from Cornell University, on a unique blend designed for its deep green color, wear tolerance, and ability to withstand frequent and low mowing.
After 18 months of growing, in October 2008, the sod was harvested, shipped and planted in the new Yankee Stadium.
Enter Dave Andres, who already worked as a consultant to DeLea Sod Farms and was currently working with them as a business development head on a plan whereby Yankee Steiner Collectibles would sell the sod from the old stadium to fans as memorabilia.
Andres also saw the potential of the excess acreage at DeLea and set out to trademark the Yankees name and pair it with the available seed and sod. After meeting with execs from the Yankees and Major League Baseball, Stadium Associates was born.
The playing field changed in early 2010 when Steiner Sports signed an exclusive deal with the New York Yankees for all game-used collectibles such as bats, dirt from infield and bases under the Yankee Steiner Collectibles moniker. As such, Delea Sod Farms became a vendor that harvests, maintains and provides the sod pieces that Steiner can freeze dry and sell to fans. During the same period, Scotts became the Official Lawn & Garden Sponsor of MLB and as such can sell licensed products including stadium grass seed and stadium fertilizer.
Now out of the grass seed business, Andres is still a licensee for authentic team sod for the Yankees and Cubs. When the Phillies replaced their sod in 2009, he also secured the rights to sell 1×1 and 2×2 pieces of live sod to Phillies fans. He also signed new deals with the National Football League for Game-Used Super Bowl XLIV Sod from Sun Life Stadium in Miami as well as with the Collegiate Licensing Company, including the BCS National Championship Game, played at the Rose Bowl Stadium between Texas and Alabama.
Never sitting on the sidelines, Andres has been busy expanding into new categories such as Lawn Logos whereby fans buy a 52" tall stencil and paint in onto their grass (it needs to be repainted once the lawn is mowed.) A new Grass Taggers franchise (due in spring 2011) will employ a network of businesses that will offer lawn painting services using the marks owned by Stadium Associates.
The playing field is wide open for Andres who is seeking investors to take the company to the next level. "Fans love the field their team plays the game on. Most fans would love to walk on the field and when they discover they can own a piece of history, they are excited to buy a piece. This is true in baseball, football and college. The field is considered "hallowed ground" and adding a piece to a collection is a new and wonderful way for a team fan to connect to their team and the history of that field," explained Andres.
How's that for a field of dreams!