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Selling the Experience
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After working in or near sports for over 25 years, I sometimes have to remind myself how magical my day-to-day world can seem to kids and fans.  While I make the mundane walk across the court to grab a game script on any given night, that same trip could be a cherished and magical memory for a 7 year old. 

I am reminded of that when I see the faces of a classroom of students when they hear their teacher just won the chance to go on the court and give the game ball to the captains...and the teachers face usually tell that same story.

These moments and experiences are photographed, shared and treasured by fans of all ages and they shouldn't be overlooked by teams as a way to build lifelong connections with your fans.

There are some classics like Kids Run the Bases, where kids are given the chance to run around the bases after a game (or the equally popular Stroll the Bases where older fans get the same chance).  In basketball many teams offer post-game Free Throw shooting or hockey post-game skates. In each case it's that rare chance for fans to touch that hallowed ground that their heroes perform on or meet a part of their team.

kids run the bases after the game


Even after 25 years I still remember how cool it was the first time I walked on the Metrodome field as an usher and how I bent down to feel the turf and looked up at my new perspective of the roof above me. 

So I always like to see teams finding new ways to connect these experiences and unique opportunities into their game presentation, sales and marketing.  Here are a few that I saw in the last couple months that caught my eye.

The Reading Phils tapped into their fans, drove revenue, and created a memorable moment by offering fans a Valentines Day Delivery from their popular Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.  

Here's a sample package:

Package 1 includes: — $175

  • Delivery of one dozen, boxed, long-stem roses on Valentine’s Day (Monday, February 14) by Screwball or the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.
  • R-Phils personalized jersey delivered by Screwball or the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.
  • Voucher for four yellow box seats, based on availability, for any regular season game during the 2011 season.
  • 1 lb. Chocolate Heart, courtesy of Reppert’s Candies
  • 8×10 Photo with the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor or Screwball

Move some tickets, promote your characters, create some memories and a unique experience that fans won't forget (Note: Fans should be careful, since I think my wife would kill me if this is what I got her for Valentine's Day).

Another classic experience is the Zamboni Ride in hockey.  Seems like every team has some variation of this in play, in a quick check I found everything teams charging $500 for the ride to teams offering it for free to season ticket holders who sign up.

Here's a first-person POV clip of what that experience is like (if you don't have the $500). I love the song selection here as well.

And this one is too good not to share:

Another team utilized their mascot program in a similar way to create an unique experience for kids.  The Florida Panther's added a  Skate With the Mascots program during their mascot day where members of their Kids Club had the chance to skate with five NHL Mascots, including their own mascot Stanley.

The team used it to promote membership in their Kids Club.

The team also created a special private meet and greet with ALL the mascots (local pros included) the day of the game for families who buy a certain ticket package. 

These two additions to their mascot day capitalize on the teams efforts (and expense) of their mascot night and create real once in a lifetime opportunities for fans.

So next time you stroll across the ice, walk the warning track or toss an errant ball at the hoop before a game remember that access is special and most lifelong fans have never have that chance.  Creating ways for your fans to bend down and touch the turf, meet your mascot or have a guy with crazy hair riding an Ostrich deliver flowers can leave a lasting impression on a fan.

Are you using all the tools you can to create unique opportunities and lasting memories?  You can share them below and we'll add your success stories to our page. Thanks to Kyle H. for his input for this essay.


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