Benjamin Hill Talks About Minor League Promotions
Best of the Decade Audio Roundtable
Peter Sorckoff on Promotional and Theme Nights
Standard Watercolor Paint Sheet
Best of 2005: The Gameops.com Review
Best of 2005: The Gameops.com Review
Our annual review of all things operations and entertainment was done by polling a dozen of our most trusted non-biased industry pros.
Of course in an industry so spread out and diverse, it is impossible to find a large group of people who have see it all, but effort was made to find people who have seen a lot.
We also took note of stories and reviews from web sources and industry literature. Six categories have been selected.
Our selections are in:
The mascot whose work was creative and enthusiastic, serving as a valuable tool for their team and in their community. All sports team characters and college mascots are eligible.
Winner: The Coyote (San Antonio Spurs)
The continued success of the Coyote character is a true testament to both the performers and the Spurs organization. Less than two years ago, 20-year veteran performer, Tim Derk, suffered a stroke and the Coyote was passed on to the Spurs' ready back-up. The character has not missed a beat since, and the program continues to perform at a championship level. The Spurs, now with Derk overseeing the mascot program and a talented seasoned performer in costume, are reaping the benefits of their long-term planning and investment in the Coyote. The Coyote is a model program and a true legend in San Antonio.
- TC Bear (MN Twins) - Twins Mascot TC Bear is a great example of a team finding and maximizing their performer's talents. The performer has a background in baseball and is able to readily hit softballs from second base into the left field bleachers. The Twins have created a Saturday night promotion pitting TC Bear against local celebrities and assorted contest winners. The contest is almost always won by TC and Twins fans flock to left field to witness the event and catch the home run balls. Much like ESPN's Jim Caple, Twins' fans and our panel found a soft spot for TC Bear making him a 2005 Honorable Mention Mascot.
- Staten Island Yankees mascots -Minor League mascot crew that stood out among their peers.
The touring act or halftime show that excels in providing quality entertainment for your fans. Consider drawing power, quality, cooperation of the act, media, and value. All touring acts and non-team affiliated shows and performers are considered.
Winner: Bucket Boys
Chicago's Bucket Boys edge the competition by being a fresh, flexible, high-energy act.
- Red Panda
- Quick Change
It seems we get the same list of names every year, as it continues to be difficult to create and establish new successful acts. The NBA and NFL continued to reach out to big name music acts, however the success has been limited and the more traditional acts continue to impress the fans and staffs of most teams.
The provider of quality services or products that are most helpful for game operations. Consider service, products offered, and value.
Winner: Raymond Entertainment Group for the Mascot Hall of Fame
The Best Vendor category is always challenging for our panel, since some companies don't work across all sports and it's hard to find a consensus on any vendor. In 2005 one vendor gave back to the industry in a move driven to recognize excellence and building community, which all of our panel admired.
For their efforts in creating the Mascot Hall of Fame, the 2005 Best Vendor award goes to the Raymond Entertainment Group. Not only have they created the Hall of Fame, they created a tremendous inaugural event, and have continued to focus on how to make the Hall of Fame bigger and better in years to come.
- Click Effects (Video Replay System)
Best Game Promotion:
What single game night promotion was most effective and creative. An example would be "President's Night" where a team builds a game day promotion around a theme like "President's Night", perhaps handing out US flags and having namesakes like "George Washington, Richard Nixon, and George Bush" dropping the puck for a game held on President's Day. Consider creativity, entertainment value, media exposure, drawing power, and execution of the operations.
Winner: Michael Jackson Night/King of Pop-Beat it Night - Lake Elsinore Storm
A clever, hysterical, timely, and news-worthy game promotion lifts the Lake Elsinore Storm to a Best of Award for their Michael Jackson Sleep Over Night.
- 1,500 fans in attendance received a free surgical masks and one white glove.
- All fans arriving late and in their pajamas got into the game free and received a back massage.
- The night’s festivities include bubbles, face painting, a moon-walk contest and a well lit petting zoo.
- Lake Elsinore Storm President and General Manager, Dave Oster also announced a time change for the “Michael Jackson Sleepover Night” game. The new game time will be 7:35 PM, when the big hand touches the little hand.
- Members of the Storm front office preformed their rendition of Michael Jackson’s thriller on top of the home dugout in-between innings.
- Fans could also visit the Neverland Ranch petting zoo setup on the concourse. The Storm’s Neverland Ranch petting zoo consisted of a fenced children’s playpen filled with stuffed animals.
- The night was highlighted with a live interview with Michael Jackson. Jackson tapped into the Storm’s PA via satellite and was interviewed by Storm public address announcer Joe Martinez. During the interview, Martinez asked Jackson questions abut the trial, his health, and him being a fan of the Storm baseball team. The interview, which was setup using sound bites of Jackson, had fans, players, umpires and coaches laughing so hard it brought some of them to tears.
- Opposing team headshots were all pictures of Michael Jackson throughout his life. Ranging from his younger days when he was a part of the Jackson 5, to the most recent picture of him after his booking in 2004.
- In-game entertainment included a baby toss that saw two fans throwing baby dolls and attempting to catch them in strollers on the third base line. The night was tapped off with an appearance from the Storm mascot Thunder dangling a miniature version of himself from the sky box during the seventh inning stretch.
- 2004 Ring Ceremony - Boston Red Sox
It doesn't hurt when you wait 86 years between titles and exorcize the curse of the Bambino in the process, but the Red Sox hit a home run with an emotional game promotion presenting the team with their world series rings in April.
- Hairiest Back Night - Potomac Nationals
- Redneck Olympics - Delmarva Shorebirds
Best Contest or On-Field Promotion:
What promotion or contest is the most entertaining. For example, a "Chuck-a-Puck" contest. This is a repeatable on-field promotion that is held in-game. Consider entertainment value, sponsorship possibilities, cost, and repeatability.
Winner: Florida Lottery Beach Ball Promotion - Orlando Magic
Thirty white beach balls painted as lottery balls are tossed into the crowd. The entire crowd bounces the balls around until the music is stopped. Once stopped, whoever is holding the balls waits for the winning number. The numbers are announced on the MagicVision and by the PA announcer, and the fans holding the winning balls are awarded a prize. An interactive spectacle and a perfect connection to the sponsor. It's a promotion fans do not forget.
- Wendy's Kick for a Million contest
A 25-year old mechanical engineer from Belle River, Ont. became a million-dollar athlete by successfully kicking a 50-yard field goal - worth $1 million. Indemnification contests can get lost in the shuffle...until someone kicks and wins. This promotion was well executed, got strong media play...obviously aided by the successful 50 yard field goal.
Best Team Operations:
Which team is doing the best job in their game operations and game presentation. Consider creativity, value to fans, overcoming sport and budget limitations, quality of presentation, and attention to detail. We level the playing field by considering budget constraints to minor league teams.
Winner: Lakewood Blueclaws
Ask anyone who sees a lot of minor league baseball for a Best Team nomination and Lakewood is likely on their short list. Every year this New Jersey-based affiliate of the Phillies focuses tremendous effort and resources into building promotions and entertainment that draws fans...from their own character and on-field promotions to a full schedule of touring acts.
The Dayton Dragons had another excellent season adding promotions that both entertained and inspired, like their Home Run for Life program (honorees are picked from those undergoing or overcoming a serious medical condition). The Lowell Spinners are very highly thought of for their consistency and attention to detail. The Phoenix Suns were the elite NBA team in 2005 for game presentation.
- Dayton Dragons
- Philadelphia Phantoms
- Lowell Spinners
- Phoenix Suns
Note: This year our panel did not consider NHL teams due to the lockout, which limited them to a handful of games.Benjamin Hill Talks About Minor League Promotions
Best of Awards
Peter Sorckoff Returns!
Brenda Bourns on Promotions in the CFL
Peter Sorckoff on Promotional and Theme Nights
Bamboo Shoot Pot Set