By Dan Cox
Posted date: 10/9/2006
Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

Much of the city was bleeding Dodger Blue last week, as Los Angeles battled the New York Mets in the first round of baseball's playoffs, but few were pulling harder than the executives at the RazorGator Interactive Group. RazorGator, an online ticket broker, stands to profit big whenever teams from big markets make it to the World Series.

"One of our sayings is ‘Big Games and Big Markets," said RazorGator Chief Executive David Lord. Any time the Dodgers would face the New York Yankees in the World Series, for example, it would be the biggest of baseball games and the two biggest of markets.

The Mets-Dodgers matchup kept RazorGator employees scrambling last week. While prices for the best seats for the Saturday and Sunday games at Dodger Stadium were expected to approach $2,000, lesser seats were selling for much less than that.

Because RazorGator specializes in ticket packages that include travel and hotel stays, the biggest events – in this case the World Series – command its primary attention. Those packages carry price tags of thousands of dollars, depending on the quality of the seats and accommodations. RazorGator sales agents are scrambling to put together those packages now.

Nonetheless, Lord said that "secondary ticket sales," that is the selling of tickets that RazorGator has bought from private parties, are a major part of his firm's $35 million in sales. The going markup for those seats is about 23 percent, Lord said. Demand, of course, can raise it from there.

Versatile performer

For the last 11 years, RazorGator has provided ticketing services and packages to such events as the college basketball's Final Four, golf's Masters Tournament and U.S. Open, the Kentucky Derby, the Olympics, soccer's World Cup, along with music and entertainment events.

The company operates three distinct businesses under separate brands: RazorGator for procuring "hard-to-get" tickets; PrimeSport for hotel and concierge packages at major sporting events; and Open Field for exchanges of tickets. RazorGator has just launched TicketOS, a corporate ticket management platform designed to help companies maximize their investment in sports and entertainment sponsorships by "giving them realtime visibility to allocate, track and utilize tickets in a timely manner."

The National Football League provides RazorGator's biggest gig. "The Super Bowl is our best event," said Lord. "We've done it for the last 11 years."

But the company also provides spare-no-expense packages with all the trimmings for the serious sports fan.

Lord, who was this year's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, is proudest of RazorGator's facilitation of the travel and tickets for more than 6,000 Seattle fans at last year's Super Bowl in Detroit. RazorGator also handled the official travel arrangements for team players' families, administration and partners.

"We did the NFL experience," said Lord, who acknowledges his firm didn't do it alone. Among RazorGator's corporate partners are American Express Inc. Chevron Corp., Merrill Lynch and Co. Inc., Microsoft Inc., and the General Electric Co.

Tough matchups

RazorGator has plenty of competition. While Lord is disinclined to talk specifically about his company's finances, a rough picture can be gleaned by assessing its rivals.

Stub Hub Inc., a San Francisco-based secondary ticket seller, offers the same type of inside "hard-to-get" tickets for an exclusive price. With more than $400 million in sales this year, Stub Hub has enjoyed its status as one of the fastest growing retail companies in the country, according to Inc. Magazine.

Stub Hub spokesman Sean Pate said that though RazorGator competes with him for tickets, its primary function is packaging sports tours and tickets. "They focus their business more on servicing their clients with the major package details, whether it's hospitality or a VIP-type experience," Pate said. Tickets Now Inc., another secondary ticket seller based in Crystal Lake, Ill., projects as much as $225 million in revenues for 2006.

Both firms steer clear of setting up the same type of travel and hospitality packages that RazorGator specializes in.

"They're more focused on packages," said Tickets Now Chief Executive Mike Dudek. "It's unique, which is good. There's something unique about the three main competitors in this space."

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