Wizards, Capitals going high-tech

October 21, 2012

The local sports scene is getting increasingly high-tech for the fan. This past season saw bar code, self-entry turnstiles as well as online concession ordering for fans at Washington Nationals games.

Now, the Washington Wizards are getting in on the act. Wizards season ticket holders — which now number around 8,500 — have been issued credit card-like passes instead of tickets this year.

The tickets to every Wizards game have been automatically loaded onto the cards, which include the holder’s name, account number and the fan’s loyalty level. The loyalty level reflects the number of years the client has been a season ticket holder and the location of the seats.

“We plan to do the same for all [Washington] Capitals season ticket holders,” said Jim Van Stone, head of tickets for Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which is the Ted Leonsis-led holding company that owns the teams and arena. “This will allow fans to easily manage their accounts, get access to the arena with a cards and easily forward tickets to friends and colleagues.”

The move saves lots of money on shipping costs and is the direction many teams, and retailers, are heading.

It’s also designed to motivate fans to spend more in the arena.

“We’re also looking to allow fans to put money on their cards, which allows purchases of food and merchandise in the building,” said Randall Boe, Monumental’s executive vice president and general counsel.

What fiscal cliff?

Smathers & Branson, the Bethesda-based accessorizers that sell preppie belts, key and dog collars to an upscale audience, has hired five full-time employees and launched new lines in cuff links, baseball caps, collegiate pillows, wallets, flasks and tote bags. They also make coasters and Christmas ornaments.

The company has a new Web site and moved its offices down the road in Bethesda.

Sales are up 40 percent this year.

“Business is killer,” said co-founder Peter Smathers Carter, 30, who met his business partner, Austin Branson, 30, when they attended Bowdoin together.

The entrepreneurs started their company in their college dorm in 2004. When we checked in with Smathers & Branson back in 2008, the economy was on the edge of its own fiscal cliff — then it fell off the cliff.

“We weathered it really well,” Branson said. “We’ve never borrowed a cent. Growth has been largely organic. We partnered with the right stores. We are in 350 golf clubs, and there’s still a lot more to get in.”

Adrenaline junkie

Raul Fernandez, chairman of this year’s Fight Night on Nov. 1, is looking for a few good — and generous — men. Five guys who love guns and cars will be flown via Netjets to a 7,000-acre secluded training facility in North Carolina if they win the top auction prize at this year’s Fight for Children fundraiser. Fernandez has teamed with Arlington-based Academi, the privately held security training company, to present the “Ultimate Men’s Day.” Just pony up and the winner can learn on- or off-road tactical and defensive driving as well as high-risk live fire courses.

Fernandez, who tried it himself, e-mailed The Buzz to say he is “still on an adrenaline high.”

The Buzz hears:

Foundry, the U Street retailer offering vintage and antique stuff for the home, is going national Nov. 15. One Kings Lane, the auction-based Web site that sells furniture and accessories, has tapped Washington designer Yvette Freeman to sell her wares on its online portal. Foundry’s goods will be in the Vintage & Market finds section at www.onekingslane.com. Freeman’s furniture collection also is to be featured at One Kings Lane once a month.

A reality show tentatively titled “Sweet Retreat” — which follows vacation home hunters — is poking around Washington and has occupied four residential properties from Tim Touchette’s Attache Corporate Housing. Attache, which matches homeowners with people who need temporary housing, found three places for the reality “talent” to stay in and one home for the staff.

Bugaboo Creek Steak House updates its menu and logo at its Gaithersburg restaurant. It is the first of the 13 Bugaboo Creek restaurants to debut the new menu. Bugaboo is based in Iselin, N.J.

A host of Washingtonians made it to the Nantucket Project this month for a weekend of words and wisdom hosted by Chevy Chase native and entrepreneur Tom Scott, who built and sold Nantucket Nectars. The attendees included District council member Jack Evans, power couple Chris and Kathleen Matthews, Elizabeth Bagley, restaurateur Bo Blair, Ginny Grenham, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and a bunch of others. Speakers included Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein, former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Kerry, Evans, the Matthewses and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

Ingar Grev’s business growth advisory firm, The Grev Group, recently landed a deal to consult on business development with Northrop Grumman Electronic Services. Grev, a former nuclear submariner in the U.S. Navy, added high-tech business development consulting to the firm’s core strategic consulting and coaching services this year.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade. He has also covered local news, including the Maryland General Assembly and investigative work in Fairfax county. He has served as a correspondent for Newsweek and The Post, participating in coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unabomber and the O.J. Simpson trial. Heath was born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y., where he attended Catholic schools. He is a graduate of Fordham University and was a 2001-2002 fellow at Columbia University’s Knight/Bagehot business fellowship program.
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