Learfield Sports Looks To Play in Venue Space With ANC Sports Acquisition

Learfield Sports, already a dominant player in college-sports multimedia, furthered its commitment to its collegiate partners by investing in their venue future. The company recently acquired a controlling interest in ANC Sports Enterprises, adding ANC’s video-display and digital-signage expertise to its arsenal.

Once content to play in aging facilities with standard-definition videoboards and static signage, collegiate athletic programs have entered the sports-venue arms race in a big way over the past decade. Texas A&M, Nebraska, Auburn, and many other schools have clearly demonstrated that dynamic, compelling in-venue video — and gigantic, high-resolution displays — aren’t just for the professionals.

Learfield Sports plans to leverage ANC’s assets, body of work, and expertise to pursue new opportunities in in-venue video, drive revenue through digital signage, and enhance the fan experience for its collegiate partners.

“Without a doubt,” says Learfield Sports President Greg Brown, “we believe college campuses are adopting the use of more technologies than ever before, including more-advanced video-display systems. We are now in a position to provide our partners with the same event experience professional venues feature. All of our school partners have plans either completed or in process to enhance facilities, and, while we have always been a part of those conversations, we now have the opportunity to help lead the dialogue.”

ANC Sports, a force in the professional ranks whose résumé lists record-breaking videoboards for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers, will benefit from the Learfield name as it looks to be more aggressive in the college-venue space and grow its business overall.

“In the last couple years,” says ANC Sports President/CEO Jerry Cifarelli, “we’ve been focusing on growing in the collegiate space. We have a good presence in the pro marketplace, and we really have reorganized ourselves in a way to try to be more aggressive in the college space with our product lines and service offerings, so we’ve had some good success over the last couple of years.”

ANC Sports has certainly kept busy, completing 47 major projects in the past two years alone, including the Citrus Bowl, Penn State Beaver Stadium, and the Cavaliers’ uniquely curved center-hung display at Quicken Loans Arena. Cifarelli found that, as his team moved more in the college space, encounters with the Learfield team were more frequent, prompting a conversation on how the two could work together.

“We feel like this is going to open up many doors for us that, as ANC only, we wouldn’t have been able to open up, and that’s what’s exciting for us,” says Cifarelli. “The customers, especially in the pro marketplace that have worked with us, stay with us for a long time. … We’re not just selling equipment. We’re really about the post-installation services that we perform for our customers, so we’re looking for true, long-term partnerships with the people we work with and, once we have those customers and those relationships, they tend to stay with us for a really long time.”

No stranger to lasting partnerships, Learfield has spent the past four decades developing long-term multimedia relationships with nearly 100 athletic programs across every major conference. Brown believes that the acquisition of ANC will enhance these relationships as athletic programs look to improve their in-venue–video technology and creative content.

“ANC fit perfectly into the Learfield portfolio,” says Brown. “ANC’s assets and quality work will provide us with new opportunities to drive revenue and enhance the fan experience for our collegiate partners. Part of our strategic plan is the pursuit of business opportunities that support or connect to our dominant position in the collegiate multimedia space.”

As the two companies come together under the Learfield banner, Cifarelli will remain co-founder, president, and CEO of ANC Sports, which will continue to operate out of its Purchase, NY, headquarters. ANC leadership, which also includes Bill Daugherty’s remaining as executive chairman, will report to Learfield Sports COO Marc Jenkins, who oversees Learfield’s extended business lines.

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