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By: Doug Kelly

Director of Communications

Football Bowl Association

February 1, 2016

As part of its continuing ‘7 On 7 series, David Fletcher, executive director of the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, took time out to speak of several new FBA initiatives in which he is actively involved.

The Football Bowl Association is breaking new ground in many areas. One of which is the FBA’s Research Committee, which you are chairing. What is/are the goals of the Research Committee?

“We have two main goals we are focused on as members of the FBA Research Committee.  The first is to educate our membership on how we’re doing as a whole in key areas and the opportunities for us as an industry to get better going forward.  Additionally, we are focused on providing key talking points vetted by outside sources for the membership to use in telling the collective power of the Bowl industry, a story that really has some great pieces to it these days.  We have partnered with some tremendous institutions like Ohio University, San Diego State University, George Washington University and The University of Alabama to help us gather these facts and share this information.”

Research these days is conducted in many forms. How will you use things like social media and analytics in this pursuit?

“We’ve worked with our university partners to ensure a wide variety of mediums are being utilized to most effectively collect and understand the data that is important to our areas of focus.  They’ve utilized email, online, social and paper surveys as well as more traditional interview style sessions and statistical analysis through their work this year.  It really has varied based on the audience and requested information they’ve been pursuing.  As an example, the researchers from Ohio University moved the Student Athlete Bowl Week Experience Surveys from a paper survey to an online survey this year that was easily completed on any smartphone.  This catered much more to the student athletes this survey was geared towards, and the amount of participants more than doubled from 2014 as a result.“

Why did the FBA’s Strategic Planning Initiatve feel that the organization needed to re-tool its Research efforts and methodology?

“It’s really about taking a more proactive approach to bettering ourselves and sharing the collective positive impact we’re all making as an industry on college athletics and in our local communities.  We’ve talked about it in great detail and the more information we have as a membership, the better prepared we can be as an industry to implement measures that make the bowl experience the best it can be for fans, student–athletes and administrators.  The work being done by institutions like Ohio University and others also provides an outside perspective on what we’re going and ensures the facts are available to the membership from credible sources.“

When your committee’s work is done, what would you like to have accomplished?

“I would hope that the FBA Research Committee will be able in this first year together to provide solid, credible information for our members to use in helping better their efforts and telling their stories of the positive impact these events have in our communities.  This impact goes beyond just the fans that attend these games and into the student–athletes, administrators, charities and local economies and because of this work, we will now have a baseline of what that impact looks like collectively and areas we can continue to grow as an industry going forward.”

The AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl is owned by ESPN Events but operated by the NFL’s Houston Texans through its affiliated company that you oversee, Lone Star Sports and Entertainment. A number of other bowls fall under a similar umbrella, notably games put on by the Detroit Lions, New York Yankees, etc. What is the biggest advantage of a professional franchise operating a bowl game?

“Two areas stand out in my opinion.  The first is the fact that professional franchises like ours have the ability to instantly connect with large, passionate fan bases with a proven history of supporting big time events in their communities through relationships with team season ticket members, sponsors and vendors.  These bases know the quality of product that their teams provide and have proven to be willing to invest in events associated with them. The second is the local marketing power of the Texans and other professional franchises, particularly the year-round media and messaging platforms that support the demands of fans who want to be connected to their team any way they can.  This has greatly enhanced our ability to tell the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl’s story throughout the year and has been a powerful avenue for us to drive ticket sales, sponsorship value as well as charity and event information.  In Houston, this has been critical to our events’ successes and helped us build a base of over 55,000 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl tickets sold in each of the past two years before our participating teams were announced as well as contributing to record financial support and awareness of our charity partner, DePelchin Children’s Center.“

Bowl games are year-round endeavors. Do you have to add extra staff for the bowl, or are you able to get the job accomplished with people who also work for the Texans year-round?

“Through our affiliation with the Texans, we are able to utilize both our full-time staff at the Bowl and Texans staff year round, so our staffing remains consistent throughout the year with great help from that team.  Our organization, Lone Star Sports & Entertainment, hosts a number of other events annually beyond the Bowl in addition to supporting Texans initiatives and those of our charity partner.  These events include international soccer, concerts and college football events like the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff which will feature the Big 12 Champion Oklahoma Sooners and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and AAC Champion Houston Cougars this Labor Day Weekend.  Needless to say, our staff is staying busy and our calendars are staying full year round!”

Do you foresee more NFL and MLB franchises getting involved in the bowl game business?

“I don’t know if expansion is a likely scenario at this time but I do believe other professional organizations will continue to explore opportunities like Bowls should the right situation arise and become available as another avenue for their fans and communities to connect with their organizations.“