Game Ideas from Readers
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Our last several interviews have been with vendors and service providers. We thought it would be a good time to get back to talking with some of the visitors who have generated some of the best concepts this season.

From our Information Drive we have received many great ideas and promotions. We thought two teams had generated ideas that deserved a closer look.

The first idea is from the Arkansas RiverBlades (ECHL) and Scott Hesington. They have found an entertaining way to capitalize on the success of "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" In the process, they have also found a valuable way to promote their sponsors.

The second promotion was a full-blown event put on by the Louisiana Ice Gators (ECHL) which proved that Elvis lives. Jady Regard from the Ice Gators also joins us for the February Interview.
: How did all this start?

Scott Hesington: Actually we were trying to do something special on some selected nights when we go head-to-head with another team across town. We saw the huge ratings this was getting on TV and decided to make it happen in our arena. We call it "Who wants to be a RiverBlade?" and now we do it about every four games. How did you set this promotion up?

Hesington: We select a contestant by asking fans to call the office or drop us a note. The response has been great. On game nights, we bring the contestant down to the ice for an intermission. We sit the contestant down with our game host. Then we cut the house lights, swirl the spot lights and play some eerie music to simulate the show. Our spots then focus on our host and contestant.

We have 10 questions. Just like the game show, contestants can stop anytime and take all their prizes or go on to the next question.

Our host reads the question and the answers, and the questions are posted on our matrix boards. We even allow the use of a life-line....that is asking the crowd. They can help the contestant (and they do) by cheering when the answers are given. So what are the different prize levels?

Hesington: We have 10 levels. The first two are 'gimmies,' really easy questions with simple prizes like tickets to a game. At each level we have a sponsored gift. The sponsors get great exposure for it and they have a very captive audience during the promotion. Our top prize is $10,000....but we have not had a grand prize winner yet.

As each question gets harder, the prizes increase. Some of the prizes are from sponsors and others are team related. For example, we give away a night in a suite with use of the team promotional bus to bring your group to the game. Any other tricks that you have flushed out since starting this promotion?

Hesington: Yes. When we list the questions for the contestant, we read them once before posting them to the crowd. When you put them up on the board in order, the contestant can listen to crowd response and use it as a 'life-line' on every question. By not showing the audience they don't have the chance to react until the 4 selections have been given to the contestant. Where are you getting the questions from?

Hesington: We get a lot from Trivial Pursuit and we make some up based on RiverBlade hockey. We try to mix them up and we spend a lot of time testing questions so we have a good idea of how easy/difficult they might be. We do want a $10,000 winner, but we probably don't want one every night.

This is our first year in the league so we really want to make sure our fans have something else to thing about, other than just winning and losing. We are not just offering hockey, we are offering a whole entertainment package.

At a recent game, the Louisiana Ice Gators decided to run with a theme night. Theme nights are not uncommon, yet the lengths the Ice Gators went to are. Jady Regard, the General Manager of the Ice Gators contacted via our Information Drive. We liked the idea so much, we wanted to hear more. Tell us about ELVIS night at the Cajundome.

Regard: For three or four games every year we try to really saturate our building with a theme night.

We had a game on Jan 10, which is Elvis’ birthday, so we decided that one of this year’s theme nights would be Elvis night. What made this promotion so successful?

Regard: I think what really made it work was the degree that we saturated the evening with Elvis bits. We really had fun with it. Our staff has a lot of fun with the theme nights and it shows. For example we had a 70’s night last year and our entire staff was dressed in bell bottoms and silk shirts. We submerged our fans in the theme. Give us a few examples of the Elvis shtick....

Regard: First when people arrived at the building they were greeted by Elvis impersonators singing Elvis songs. We had one outside the building and one inside. During the game we hired the King Team.

They are a group of Elvis characters based in Indianapolis. (Editors note: I have seen this act and it is one of the funniest things going.) They entertained our fans through the game night and helped out with promotions.

The national anthem was sung by an Elvis impersonator acapella.

At introductions before we brought our team out, yet in our full introduction (lights out, music and spots) we introduced our starting line-up. Each was local heavy-set guy dressed like Elvis, with wigs and glasses. They lined up on the blue line and our fans ate it up.
: Did you get any complaints from hockey purists for the line-up or from people in regards to the impersonator signing the anthem?

Regard: No complaints, I think people understood that we were just trying to entertain.
: Sorry to stop you, go on with the list.

Regard: At one of the period intermissions we had a contest we called the Hound Dog Howl. A radio station sponsored it and helped us get the contestants. Each dog owner had to call in and get their dog to howl. We had 6 dogs on the ice and the fans loved it. The winner was actually a Hound Dog. The dog’s owner won a trip to see Graceland, including air and hotel.

Also at Elvis night:

  • During the game, instead of our normal music collection, we ran mostly Elvis songs and Elvis video clips.
  • Our seat giveaway prizes (where we announce winners by seat locations) were Elvis CD’s and videocassettes.
  • The Elvis team also used the slingshot in game to launch Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches into the crowd.
  • We have a mascot and a host. Both of them dressed up like Elvis as well.
  • Our coach has this really ugly pair of blue suede shoes, but he forgot to wear them, otherwise we were Elvis all across the board. This sounds like an expensive evening. How do you do attendance-wise and was it worth it?

Regard: We did spend a lot of time and money on the night, but it was definitely worth it. Our attendance was up. We average about 7,800 and we drew just short of 10,000 on Elvis night. In addition, everyone had a great time. The reaction and feedback to the evening was outstanding. It was well worth the investment of our time and resources. We used it as a lure to get some fans out to a game that normally don't come out. If they had a great time, they will come back.

: Gators won the game 4-2 in front of 9,800 happy fans.

Thanks to Scott and the RiverBlades and Jady and the Ice Gators for sharing their experiences with We appreciate your contributions to the site.

The RiverBlades also have created an interesting radio promotion that has helped them grow listenership on their radio broadcasts. The promotion asks fans to sign up at the games for the radio promotion. One name is drawn each game. The broadcasters call the fans at home at some point in the 3rd period. The fan is asked if they know the score of the game. If they do (or if they guess correctly) they win a prize from the team.

The Ice Gators use a promotion for Valentine's Day sponsored by a local jeweler. 100 small jewelry boxes are place on the ice and 100 fans are selected to each pick one. In 99 of the boxes, there are small Cubic Zirconium gems. One bag contains a real diamond. The promotion is popular with the jeweler since almost everyone of the contestants visit the store to see if they have the real diamond.

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