Ken Elder is the Vice President of Partnerships for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee. Ken has an impressive 30-plus year track record in revenue stream management and production. In the last four-plus years, he has served as the President of Elder Sports Marketing where his projects include assisting Super Bowl Host Committees with revenue generation and sponsorship activation. Ken has been responsible for the revenue management and generation for eight Super Bowl Host Committees, starting in 2001 with the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Committee. Before joining the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee efforts, he assisted the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee in revenue generation for the 2018 Super Bowl. Ken also served on the initial College Football Playoff staff, serving as Senior Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships in Irving, Texas. He continues to be a part of the College Football Playoff team serving as a sales consultant for the past four years. Ken also has an extensive background working with collegiate rights holders and in college athletics administration. He has served as General Manager of the Hurricane Radio Network, as well as an account manager with the Florida Gator Network. He also served as the Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of North Carolina Asheville.
Ken Elder, Vice president of Partnerships
You are serving in a very specialized role as the Vice President of Partnerships for the Super Bowl LV Host Committee and have previously served in the same capacity for eight past Super Bowl host committees starting in 2001. How has the role progressed over the last two decades?
It has become more complex for a couple reasons. First, the host committee is much more involved in the creation of Super Bowl weekend fan events than back in 2001. Starting in 2013 in New Orleans, the NFL allowed the host committees to utilize the Super Bowl name and the Super Bowl style guide to create an official fan event. It has had different names in different cities since then, but has always included “Super Bowl” in the title. This has created a great deal more complexity to the sponsorship effort, but it has also been a great addition to Super Bowl weekend. Also, Super Bowl game tickets and suites are much more expensive now than they were in 2001. This requires us to raise the sponsorship package levels to compensate for the additional costs of the game tickets and suites. Finally, there is more competition in the secondary ticket market including the NFL’s own option, On Location.
Assisting with not only the planning but the execution of a Super Bowl is a huge task. What keeps you coming back year after year from one city to the next?
I really enjoy helping communities prepare to host the largest annual sporting event in the world. It is a huge undertaking and by utilizing my past experiences, my goal is to make it a little easier for our team to prepare for the event. I also enjoy knowing that I am assisting in securing the funding needed to ensure the success of the Super Bowl that particular year and hopefully help to ensure more Super Bowls for the region due to our ability to fulfill the bid obligations.
Out of the last eight Super Bowls you have been a part of, can you pinpoint one memory or experience that stands out to you most?
There are a few that come to mind. I really enjoy working with local companies to come up with ways that they can utilize the amazing stage that a Super Bowl brings to highlight their business. During the 2009 Super Bowl, Gerdau, a recycled steel company that has its North American headquarters in Tampa was a partner. We were able to work together to create a large football structure that was made from recycled steel that also featured a unique lighting display on the ball in addition to 32 smaller statues representing each NFL city also made of recycled steel. They were all displayed in Cotanchobee Park and the large structure served as the backdrop for the ESPN set all week and was a huge hit. Also, in 2009, we were up against the financial crisis that hit in the summer of 2008. The way the host committee team came together to ensure that everything went off perfectly despite the challenges was amazing and the local Tampa area businesses benefited greatly from it as well.
Your affinity and familiarity with the Tampa Bay community runs deep. As you compare your previous host committee efforts, what separates Tampa Bay from other host Super Bowl communities?
The Tampa community really loves hosting the Super Bowl and the support we receive from volunteers, business leaders, and community leaders is second to none. Every time Tampa hosts a Super Bowl, our out of town guests always leave with the same positive impression of the city and the Tampa residents. Tampa area television stations never fail to have interviews from out of town guests at the airport after the festivities praising the area and the volunteers as they leave town after the big game. At the end of the day, that is what it is all about.