Comcast Spectacor Boosts Efficiency in Fixed-Asset Accounting, Vendor Management, and More With NetSuite

Rosalyn Impink, NetSuite Contributor

October 13, 2022

Comcast Spectacor(opens in new tab) knows how to show fans a good time. As the sports and entertainment branch of Comcast, the massive company comprises more than a dozen subsidiaries aimed at breaking barriers in the events industry.

Headquartered at the 20,000-seat Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia, Comcast Spectacor caters to the City of Brotherly Love’s love of sports. It owns the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and the National Lacrosse League’s Philadelphia Wings, and the arena also hosts the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers along with an impressive array of concerts. Comcast Spectacor’s sports division also works with NFL and MLB teams, and the company recently expanded to operate other entertainment venues.

Pushing Boundaries Pushes the Accounting Team

As Comcast Spectacor pursued new endeavors, its Sage business system proved inefficient.

The company recently started running “family interactive events,” including holiday light shows and its first-ever roller skating party on the floor of Wells Fargo Center. It must track revenue and costs by event, as well as by the event’s industry. The team used to capture these kinds of details by creating myriad account codes in its chart of accounts, resulting in an index of about 27,000 accounts.

Comcast Spectacor also started selling on more ticketing platforms in order to reach new audiences. Every time it added a new ticketing software to its mix, the accounting team strained all the more to reconcile the many sources of payments.

Its on-premises Sage 100 system also failed to keep up with reporting needs, lacked integration capabilities, and required employees working outside of headquarters to sign into a clunky VPN to access the system.

Trading On-Premises ERP for the Cloud

Comcast Spectacor chose NetSuite ERP(opens in new tab) as a cloud-based system that it could customize – for example, to track athlete contracts and calculate payroll across multiple leagues.

When evaluating NetSuite, “we liked the ability to customize and create integrations. We felt that NetSuite would grow and expand and innovate with us,” said Ryan Gillies, senior director of finance and business technology.

He cited a well-timed pre-COVID implementation with helping the company maintain operations during the pandemic. The cloud facilitated a seamless transition to work-from-home, and Comcast Spectacor is planning to give some employees the opportunity to work remotely part-time going forward.

Most importantly, efficiency gains have helped the company centralize operations and maintain the same accounting headcount, even as its business expands.

Efficiency in Fixed-Asset Accounting

For example, Comcast Spectacor previously used Excel and BlackLine to manage fixed assets. It added assets into BlackLine, then created schedules to determine depreciation and amortization entries monthly. Creating entries required exporting data out of BlackLine, then importing and posting – a burdensome set of steps.

The accounting team had to reach out to other departments for details of assets put in place or disposed of, and they pulled information like purchase prices and depreciation schedules out of BlackLine and Excel to create financial statements.

Asset and accounting data wasn’t centralized, and BlackLine’s fixed-asset listing “was neither clean nor easy to manage,” said Susan Calabrese, director of accounting. And each of Comcast Spectacor’s 15 subsidiaries “was a little different” in how it managed fixed assets, leaving the team seeking consistency.

Comcast Spectacor now uses NetSuite Fixed Assets Management(opens in new tab) to track fixed assets in the same system as its financial data, so that everyone – from data-entry staff to the CFO – sees the same real-time figures. It can run a complete fixed-asset listing for all subsidiaries, which wasn’t possible before. Calculating monthly depreciation takes just a few clicks, and Calabrese approves journal entries in bulk, speeding up the month-end close.

To book entries related to capital spend, the team used to pull transaction detail out of Sage, spending unnecessary time filtering some transactions out. Now, they no longer need to manually create entries for capital expenditure allocations and use automatic calculations instead, saving more time.

Of course, accounting processes beyond fixed assets have improved, too: Comcast Spectacor now uses NetSuite’s multidimensional accounting capabilities(opens in new tab) to categorize transactions, streamlining that previously massive chart of accounts and yielding richer, more accurate data for analysis.

comcast spectacor
Band 5 Seconds of Summer performs at Q102's Jingle Ball, an annual concert Comcast Spectacor hosts at Wells Fargo Center.


Saved Time Proves Critical

All of this saved time was especially critical as Comcast Spectacor simultaneously reopened the arena after the pandemic’s peak and hired an almost entirely new accounting team due to turnover.

“When we were experiencing this restart of the season and training [a new accounting staff], we needed to find ways to be more efficient and save time,” Gillies said. “Having NetSuite and those efficiencies were pivotal for us.”

Customizations in Payroll and Vendor Management

Comcast Spectacor was quick to take advantage of NetSuite’s customizability.

Along with major sports leagues, it manages players in other leagues like the National Lacrosse League. The business customized NetSuite to track player contracts and movement between leagues – say, if a goalie moves from the minor leagues to the NHL – to ensure it adheres to each league’s collective bargaining agreements and intricacies around salary when calculating payroll.

Committed to diversity and inclusion, Comcast Spectacor also works to support a diverse pool of vendors at its venues. To do this, it classifies vendors in its NetSuite database – tagging whether they’re a small, local business versus a large, national supplier, for example. Sage didn’t offer the ability to add those kinds of custom fields, Gillies said.

Finding New Efficiencies

Nine months into the team’s journey with NetSuite, it looks forward to continuing to uncover efficiencies as it takes on new projects.

“We keep learning new things every time we have a new problem come up,” Gillies said. “Every day, we understand a little more about how NetSuite works and find opportunities to be more efficient.”

For example, the pandemic led to cancellations and rescheduling of many sporting events and concerts, which made it all the more challenging to track revenue and expenses by event. So, Comcast Spectacor moved its offline events calendar into NetSuite. Now, with the entire organization on the same page, accounting more easily prioritizes tasks and settles accounts sooner after events with maximum accuracy.

An ERP Foundation to Grow On

Gillies projects growth for Comcast Spectacor over the next few years as it continues those interactive family events and starts hosting esports events.

“As we get our core businesses back to a normal state, we’re expanding into new lines of business, and we’re excited for NetSuite to help us [do that] again,” he said, noting that NetSuite increases the company’s capacity to scale without being overwhelmed by new revenue streams. 

The team is also kickstarting an initiative to integrate several more of its systems into NetSuite, including its ticket-office system and POS, to eliminate any processes which still require CSV imports and other unnecessary steps.

“We’re excited to keep building on what we have with NetSuite,” said Gillies, “with integrations, customizations and finding those efficiencies that make everyone's job easier.”

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