Opening Day was last week. I love baseball and as a Cubs fan since birth, every Opening Day is one of hope and excitement. Every team is tied for first and every fan has dreams of their team making the playoffs and winning the World Series. Unfortunately for us Cubs fans, most of our lives have been about Opening Day being in a tie for last and those championship dreams are quite delusional. Thank goodness for 2016!
Of course, living in Denver and having had the Colorado Rockies as a client in the past, I root, root-root for my home team as well. Although the Rockies front-office is making it difficult for me and other fans with their personnel moves of late. Not only did they give Arenado away, but they sent $50M with him; and why oh why did it have to be to the Cardinals?!?!? At least it wasn’t to the Whitesox.
Well, I’m used to supporting struggling baseball teams and still going to the games anyway because of a great stadium (Coors Field, Wrigley…), and nothing beats a sunny afternoon at the ol’ ballpark. Plus, the Rockies and Cubs were both in first place when I went to Opening Day last Thursday.
I was super intrigued by what the experience would be like from both a fan’s perspective and also a marketer’s point of view. Every team in the league was letting fans in the stadium, with varying capacities and rules based on local restrictions. I was surprised to find out the Rockies are the second most lenient team in the majors, allowing over 21,000 fans which is 42% of capacity. Most teams are maxing out around 20% capacity.
The Texas Rangers are the lone exception with their gates wide open for the first game of the season – no restrictions for Opening Day. They expect over 40,000 fans but then for game two and moving forward, they are going to have some social distancing. Apparently you can’t get COVID on Opening Day in the Lone Star State but you can at all the other games. Who knew?
From a media buying perspective, I’m curious how the Rockies are handling local sponsorships. Attendance always ebbs and flow with team success. The Rox have a double whammy of coming off a bad season with grim prospects for this season on top of a pandemic reduced in-stadium capacity. I’m guessing that 42% capacity is enough for anyone that wants to go to a game to get to go (sans fireworks games).
Part of the fun of going to a ballgame are the in-game promotions. Who doesn’t love the Milwaukee Brewers sausage races? With less than half the attendance expected are sponsors paying less than half?
With all that said, I see the reduced capacity as a real opportunity for advertisers and sponsors. Sure, any sponsorship packages need to be evaluated based on eyeballs and ears but there is something to be said about an easier time breaking through the clutter. Fans going to the game are going to be heard and seen more easily and that goes for the advertisers as well. In this cluttered and distracting world of non-stop competition for attention, there is something to be said about low-hanging fruit.
The people die-hard enough to go to a Rockies games during a pandemic are probably more receptive to targeted and relevant marketing, especially when they feel like they are in on something. It would be pretty easy to give every single fan a gift of actual value. Sorry, but the magnetic schedules don’t fit the bill – although I think I made an usher’s day when I politely declined the promo item but told her she had a magnetic personality.
Tatumn and I brainstormed some better promotions and tactics that we’d like to see at Coors Field this year. Our best idea, in our humble opinion, is perfect for the Colorado Lottery. Numbers tattooed on every foul ball and every game someone is guaranteed to win $5K from the winning ball. Yeah, yeah, so a few hockey fights would break out in the stands, but hey, the entertainment on the field might need the help.
How ‘bout a geo-fenced campaign to every attendee? Like when my phone recognizes that I just ordered my third round of Holidaily Blonde beers, I get a BOGO for visiting the tap room?
Or three words: Hotdog basket advertising.
We have a lot more ideas, but the Rockies are going to have to hire us again to hear them! I did enjoy the game – it was a sunny 70-degree day and the Rockies somehow beat Clayton Kershaw and the LA Dodgers. It was a little odd to be in a social distancing stadium when there were two strangers sitting directly in front of me. If that’s social distancing, then why not go rogue like Texas and let everyone in? Plus, the bathroom and concession lines were longer than normal. Good thing I have the antibodies and have been vaccinated!
Hooray for baseball season. I’m going to watch Field of Dreams, have a catch with my kid and definitely catch a few more games at Coors Field this year. Go Cubs!