A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
For Some, Houston Is All About The Party…Not The Game On Sunday
Now maybe I’m just getting old. I remember my first three times going. It was all about the party and not about the work involved. Well as a thirteen-year vet of the NBA wars, I’ve learned to taper the partying and focus more on putting out a good product. This weekend will put that hypothesis to the test, as I’m sure I’ll have several media outlets wanting a report or three from me. Yet what seems to one of those reports that I may have to give is the fact that there seems to be quite a few individuals looking to make a few greenbacks off of the partygoers and that is intriguing in itself. For some this may have nothing to do with sports reporting but I beg to differ. Even though the party planning that is going on may not be something Fox Sports Radio’s Rick Harrow would tackle on his Sunday morning program, I think it is quite intriguing to actually give some insight to just how catered even us media folks are when it comes to these events.HOUSTON WE HAVE PARTY PLANNERS!! When I put in for credentials this year, little did I know that because of that fact, my e-mail would actually become part of a RSVP listing to several high profile shin digs. Folks there are some happening parties happening this weekend and I’m not going to lie and tell you that I am not thinking about going. If things work out, I will be attending maybe one party with a date and that is the plan. Now to protect myself from the hounds that may decide they want to crash, I’m not going to divulge what high profile party I RSVPed for. But let me say this, too bad I didn’t think about making a few extra dollars because it seems that these party planners are going to make a killing this weekend.
Imagine this if you will. A regular Houston nightclub is turned into a party scene and entrance into the club that may normally be $15 has just gone up ten fold. Crazy isn’t it? Well that’s exactly what’s happening this weekend. I have gotten e-mails from various planners who have promised such parties like “Club A.I.”, the ATL, Rocawear’s Shin Dig, and others. There was one website, www.nbaparty.com, that promised it had all the tickets to all the hot parties. Yeah, okay tell that to a newbie. I’ve been around before.
Let me break down how most of these parties go down. Let’s say that I decide to throw such a party this weekend at a posh hotel. The Houstonian sounds like a good idea and lets say that I decide to have the party in one of their ballrooms and also work it out to where the partygoers can also book rooms there. I go through and order up all kinds of food, make sure that Moet and other high priced liquors are on hand for the party. Now the Houstonian staff will not let anyone just plan a party of such magnitude without some sort of currency security. So let’s say that I have an actual budget on hand and what I do is to actually pay for the food and set up for a party of 300 people with a credit card. Then just to make sure that the party is a success, I pay for an ‘appearance’ of one LeBron James.
Sounds far fetched? Well it isn’t. The way many of these parties go is that most of the famed celebrities that show up at these parties make just an appearance and that’s that. The majority of these parties are nothing more than overpriced admissions to clubs that come next week will be back to their normal levels of occupancy. But the reason why party planners can get away with such overcharging to the public is because of what this weekend brings and that’s the promise of fast cash and lots of celebrities running through parties.
As I’ve stated before, Rick Harrow may not touch this topic but it does have relevance to the sports world. It is these parties that many a NBA, NFL or other high profile individual will be seen. If you think the Oscars were something a few weeks ago, you just wait when you see snapshots of all the celebs coming out for this weekend. From rap icons to movie stars, the NBA All Star weekend is a time to be seen by the world and people of this caliber know it. The amount of cash that will be dropped in Houston just by these parties alone will be in the millions. Saying that by the time you add up all of the discretionary income that may be spent on entertainment products and services that include such lavish affairs as the one I described, it may be very safe to say that $20 million is a minimum that could be dropped What the actual economic impact that such parties have on Houston’s economy this weekend will have to be tallied up from the Convention and Visitors Bureau and other sources. But $20 million in entertainment shouldn’t be a hard number to assume.
STREET VENDORS GONNA GET A PIECE OF THE SIPIN SUR TOO While the parties will be happening, don’t think that the street vendor is going to be left out in the cold. Yeah NBA licensed merchandise can be had at the NBA Jam Session or any authorized outlet but there will be some unauthorized product out on the streets as well and these street vendors will be making dollars like it was the last days of capitalism. T-shirts, jerseys, hats and other NBA All Star collectables by these vendors is something that they have been planning for a year as well. Like the party planner, this weekend isn’t going to be about the games or festivities. For these entrepreneurs it is about getting the tourist to buy their merchandise and they leave Houston in the black.
This practice shouldn’t be something of a new phenomenon to anyone who attends a sporting event. I’ve bought my share of t-shirts from such vendors because while I spend money on the licensed apparel, it is the unlicensed product that gets more attention. A prime example is a 2005 playoff t-shirt that I have from such a vendor who took the likeness of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, cast them into cowboy garb that was complete with a hat and chaps and then put above that image “Pop’s Posse”. On the back of the t-shirt the words are “The Boys Ride Again”. I know that this t-shirt was a conversation starter because while I was in Dillard’s last weekend in Richmond, Virginia looking for a suit, the salesman asked me did the latter saying mean. He was assuming that I was a Harley rider. That’s what these t-shirts do more than their licensed counterparts; they get the public’s attention. If that 2005 t-shirt got a sales person’s attention in Dillard’s can you imagine what a creative t-shirt this weekend may do while even in Houston? That’s the marketing aspect that these vendors are looking for.MAKING MONEY DURING THESE EVENTS ARE PARAMOUNT For the party planner, street vendor or other entrepreneur who may be in Houston this weekend strictly for the event, they are all about making a dollar and moving on. Sports apparel, whether with licensed material or not, is fast becoming a hot commodity for young entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs re not necessarily preying on unsuspecting individuals. Like the ticket brokers who have become ‘legit’ of sorts, these individuals are simply looking at capitalizing on the basic economic model of supply and demand. They are simply supplying the goods for a public demanding something ‘fresh’ to wear back home. They are no different than the Houstonian hotel and other hotels that are providing their type of service or a restaurant like Pesce’s who is making sure they are serving the best food for their customers.
They are no different than the luxury rental place on Westheimer that’s just up the street from the Westin Galleria who has a Ferrari 430M waiting for anyone willing to drop the $225 a day it will cost to flaunt like you got cash and success or even the clubs who have jacked up their cover charges because the celebrities are in town. The bottom line is that when it comes to events like an NBA All Star game, it is definitely all about the party for the party planner and it is all about merchandise sales for the street vendor. But what these two groups and others who are only in town for the weekend are about is about the game of making money. That is why a little All Star game on Sunday means little to them. When that game is over and the final buzzer sounds, the clock will have struck midnight for these entrepreneurs and they will be packing up and moving on.