Player Tribute
Building the Perfect Promotional Schedule
Podcast - November 2016
Ben Hill Interivew
Best of 2002: The Review
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Best of 2001: The Review
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Our first ever 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. Eight Categories have been selected, and our selections are in:

  • Best Promotion
  • Best Mascot
  • Best Entertainment Act
  • Best Team Game Operations
  • Best Event or Special Presentation
  • Best Product or Service
  • Best Premium
  • Best New Act

Best Mascot:

The mascot whose work is 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: Rocky, The Denver Nuggets Mascot

When Rocky's contract expired in the Summer of 2001, the Nuggets faced a PR disaster as the local media caught wind the team may not renew the original mascot's contract. The town's concern was justified since Rocky is our pick for the Best of 2001. Rocky's act remains fresh and his rapport with the fans of Denver and the players in the NBA are a testament to his value.

Honorable Mention:
  • Spurs' Coyote
  • Utah Jazz Bear

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Best New Act:

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.

This category was the toughest, with a limited number of new acts and with a panel of a dozen, many of the panel had not seen the new acts.

The following acts were selected as two who stood out with positive feedback and promising futures based on the feedback we received.

Winner: Reggy from Raymond Entertainment Group


It may not be fair to consider legendary mascot performer David Raymond to be a "New Act", but Reggy was new to audiences this year and we think that's what counts. Reggy (obviously) brought the same skills that made the Phillie Phanatic phamous (sorry) and that propelled ACME's Mascot's Sport into a headline act. While David isn't new (in fact he's old), Reggy is.

Honorable Mention:

  • Artistica - Female hand balancing act from Toronto

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Best 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: Human Sling Shot/Human Puck - Hockey

Sling shot a contestant or your mascot across the ice to knock over bowling pins or a target, using giant rubber bands and a sled. Fantastic visual effect that crowds love....a true hockey classic. (The Human Sling Shot is available on the Store)

Honorable Mention:

  • "McHale of a Deal" (Wolves ticket plan), which utilized the popular Kevin McHale to market a special ticket discount.
  • Chuck-a-Puck - Great visual, generates revenue, sponsorship tie-ins of the great promotions in sports.

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Best Event or Special Presentation:

One of a kind nights and who served them up the best.

This category looked for the teams who presented a special night or event. In the end we considered about 15 different finalists, in a crowded field of outstanding presentations.

Winner: Red, White & Blue Out (Texas A & M)

The September 11th Attacks on Washington DC and New York presented challenges to teams as well as an opportunity to use the power of sports to bring their communities together. Many teams and leagues presented powerful experiences, but few had the amazing visual impact of Texas A & M's Red, White and Blue Out.

Honorable Mention:

  • NY Mets return to Shea after Sept 11th: Heroes, stars, emotion, community, class....the Mets hit a home run for the city of New York.
  • Timberwolves honor Malik Sealy

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Best Team Game 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 team.

Winner: Houston Comets (WNBA)

The Comets have an amazing fan base (winning four straight championships doesn't hurt), but they don't rest on the laurels of their titles. Instead they provide creativity and energy every night. Seamless integration of big ideas is an earmark of this talented staff.

Honorable Mention:

  • Dayton Dragons
  • Lansing Lugnuts
  • Saint Paul Saints

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Best Entertainment Act:

Specialty or Halftime Act

Winner: Blue Man Group

While some acts had broader appeal, the people who had seen Blue Man Group in a sports venue simply raved about the act. This off-Broadway act has expanded to several cities including Chicago and Las Vegas. While they are not a regular touring act, the teams who have used them have received tremendous feedback.

Honorable Mention:
  • Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders - "The only act that draws....period."
  • Zooperstars! - A minor league baseball favorite
  • Red Panda
  • Quick Change - "Guaranteed Standing Ovation...and that's my goal."

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Best Product or Service:

Who you can't do without.

Hundreds of companies serve this industry, and we looked for the best ones. We considered not only the product or services offered, but the customer service and uniqueness to the marketplace.

Winner: Signs and Shapes Inflatable Mascot Costumes

Inflatable mascot costumes have been around for some time now, but Nebraska-based Signs and Shapes keeps improving them. New materials, new props, new performance innovations are making these inflatables a better resource for teams and performers each year. Signs and Shapes even runs a summer training camp for performers to teach new skills and techniques. They also produce the custom characters for the ZooperStars!.

Honorable Mention

  • T-Shooter - portable CO2 premium delivery device

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Best Premium Item:

The best stuff to give to your fans.

Hot premium items change season to season, but the Bobblehead doll craze is clearly ongoing. While the Bobblehead may be slightly more expensive than many teams' budget for premiums, they have been paying off at the gate. The Minnesota Twins lead with an aggressive campaign, and their fans lined up hours before the game to get a piece of the action. How many other premium items can be found hours after the game on eBay for sale for $100-plus?

While they weren't the first team to do so, the Twins also launched an incredibly popular T.C. Bear Mascot Pez dispenser giveaway in 2001.

Winner: Bobbleheads

With a long list of huge successes, the Bobblehead doll continues to dominate the list of must-have premiums. The one slight downside is the expense which limits some minor league teams, as well as the danger of trading the player.

Honorable Mention

  • PEZ Dispensers
  • Cheerstix
  • Rally Towels
  • Magnet Schedules

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Podcast - November 2016
Building the Perfect Promotional Schedule
Shari Sharkins Peels Layers off the Dragons
Ben Hill Interivew
Player Tribute
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