Best of 2020

The Best of 2020 Awards complete with seven categories. Congrats to all our winners in this most unique year.

Best Entertainment Group:

Performance Group whose work was fresh, creative and interesting, serving as a valuable tool for their team and in their community. Providing quality entertainment and additional value for fans. All sports team performance groups are eligible. Consider quality, uniqueness, and marketplace value.

Winner: Kid Clippers Dance Team and 216 Stix

The Kid Clippers dance team has been a fan favorite in LA for over 15 seasons.  Performers ages 6-12 years old dance at weekend games at STAPLES Center and are known as one of the most talented squads in the NBA.

One panelist noted “These kids can flat out dance. Their routines were sharp, creative, and something you would expect to see out of adult professional dancers.”

Indeed they can.

The Cavaliers Drum Team 216 Stix (formerly The Q Stix) are a pounding drumline using buckets, trashcans and anything to get Cavs fans feeling their beat.

The Best of Panelists loved the energy and universal appeal of the team. Their personality jumps off the court and they also provide backbeats during play to keep Cavs fans engaged all game long.

Honorable Mention: Milwaukee Bucks Red Bull Rim Rockers

The high-flying part of the Bucks Entertainment Network is a team of daredevils performing at games, in the community and around the world with their innovative flair and trampoline dunks. Always considered on the high-end of all NBA dunk teams the Rim Rockers showcase extraordinary athleticism paired with the Bucks exceptional production values.

Category Winners:

Listen to the Best of 2020 Audio Round Table discussing all the categories and winners with out panel of Jon Cudo, Amanda Greco, Rob Wicall and Benjamin Hill. – December 2020 Party in the Back Podcast

Best Game Night Promotion:

What single game or series promotion was most effective and creative, serving as a tool for teams to entertain and draw more fans. Consider creativity, entertainment value, media exposure, drawing power, and execution of the operations. We also level the playing field by considering budget constraints to minor league teams. A promotion with the ability to positively affect the entire fan experience by touching multiple areas of marketing and presentation. For example: A Military Appreciation Night which positively pays tribute to the military with a camouflage hat giveaway, military ticket discount, use of military families for in-game promotions, video package of players speaking to their appreciation for military families, and a surprise reunion of a soldier and their family.

Winner: Hershey Bears Teddy Bear Toss/Stadium AirBNB from Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Hershey Bears’ Teddy Bear Toss

2020’s global pandemic effected every award by shifting the goals and changing the conditions everyone works under. Best Game Promotion was split between a traditional game promotion and an “only in a pandemic” promotion.

First, the Hershey Bear fans threw 45,650 stuffed bears on the ice after a first-period goal, breaking all the record for bears toss and donated. Hershey’s AHL team continues to make this a centerpiece promotion for their fans and garner worldwide attention. This year after 9 mins of hockey it was “raining teddy bears in Chocolate Town!”  Visual spectacle, interactive fan fun and a big charitable twist makes every Teddy Bear Toss special the Hershey version an award winner.

Stadium AirBNB from Pensacola Blue Wahoos

In an “only in 2020” presentation, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos spent the quiet summer months looking for ways to engage their fans, stay relevant and unearth income-generating promotions.  The combination of these efforts created a viral sensation when the Blue Wahoos turned their stadium into a $1500 a night 10 bed AirBNB rental (which remains active in December 2020).

From the listing:

For the first time ever, a professional baseball stadium is available for rent on AirBnB, giving fans the most intimate, behind-the-scenes ballpark experience in history. Whether you’d like to host an unforgettable overnight trip with your youth league team, throw an unbeatable birthday bash, stage a corporate retreat that will make you an office hero, or spend your bachelor party living your sports dream, Blue Wahoos Stadium is the ultimate rental.

The reviews from guests mirrored the review from our panelists, driving this Blue Wahoo classic to the top of the list in 2020. One panelist loved how this fit with the times, produced revenue and broke new ground in sports.

Honorable Mention: Cardboard Cutouts in Philly

The Phillies were among the leaders in filling their stands during the COVID-19 pandemic with cardboard cutout fans. The team filled seats on opening night with health care workers, before shifting the focus to season ticket holders.

After that the team continued to produce the effect with excellent attention to detail that included a web cam allowing fans to search the stands for their face and lots of interaction from Hall of Fame mascot The Phanatic.

You can see more in this Water Cooler post from September.

Phillies are a Cutout Above

Category Winners:

  • Best of 2021 – Hershey Bears COVID Teddy Bear Toss
  • Best of 2020 – Hershey Bears Teddy Bear Toss
  • Best of 2019 – Helen McGuckin Night (Charleston Riverdogs)
  • Best of 2018 – Joseph P. Reilly and the Amazing Technicolor Ballpark – Charleston Riverdogs
  • Best of 2017 – Total Eclipse Game and Bob Ross Night
  • Best of 2016 – Purple Game, Purple Game
  • Best of 2015 – Swipe Right Night – Atlanta Hawks
  • Best of 2014 – Seinfeld Night – Brooklyn Cyclones
  • Best of 2013 – Star Wars Night – Toledo Walleye
  • Best of 2012 – Silent Night at Taylor University
  • Best of 2011 – Boston Bruins Military Appreciation Night
  • Best of 2010 – Salute to Bubblewrap (Lowell Spinners)
  • Best of 2009 – LeBron’s Powder Toss Night (Cleveland Cavaliers) and What Could Have Been Night (Bowling Green Hot Rods)
  • Best of 2008 – World’s Largest Pillow Fight (Kane County Cougars) and Fan Bailout Plans (St. Louis Blues)
  • Best of 2007 – Bob L. Head Bobblehead Giveaway (Portland Beavers)/150 years of Toilet Paper (Pensacola Pelicans)
  • Best of 2006 – Brazilian Carnival (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • Best of 2005 – Michael Jackson Tribute (Lake Elsinore Storm)
  • Best of 2004 – Mullet Night (Manchester Monarchs)
  • Best of 2003 – Awful Night (Altoona Curve)
  • Best of 2002 – Hawks Playoff Guarantee (Atlanta Hawks)
  • Best of 2001 – Red, White & Blue Out 9/11 Tribute (Texas A & M)

Listen to the Best of 2020 Audio Round Table including great background and details about this years efforts from the Blue Wahoos delivered by MILB expert Benjamin Hill. – December 2020 Party in the Back Podcast

Also on

Water Cooler Moments are those that create conversation.  Mascot skit, theme night, giveaway or wacky contest.  We seek them out and serve them up on DAILY Monday through Friday.  Click on the Water Cooler on our home page to see this fresh daily content. Water Cooler Pages.  Memorable promotions like Hershey’s Teddy Bear Toss are featured every day.

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March 2021 Party in the Back Podcast

Lara Smedley from My Fan Seats shifts from successful event business to pandemic cardboard fan cutouts with warp speed. We talk about the four ways cutouts are reshaping sports, plus creative ways teams are utilizing the cutouts. Plus Simon Sez Steve Max and Amanda Greco.