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Welcome To The Neighborhood: Utah, K.C. Teams Join The AFL
Published January 27, 2006
|AFL Kicks Off 20th Season Today|
HELLO, MY NAME IS: Before the Ken Garff Automotive Group was granted an AFL expansion franchise for Salt Lake City in September ’04, the only indoor football the market had previously seen was the NIFL’s Utah Warriors. Blaze President Jason Jones said, “It took a little bit of educating for the population here, and even the media, but seeing the ticket sales and sponsorship sales and the amount of interest, they’ve really come on board.” The team has sold 7,700 season-ticket packages, and sponsors ranging from the Newspaper Agency Corporation to the local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates are lining up to be part of the Blaze’s inaugural season. Jones: “We not only have a corporate title sponsor of the game, we’ve got a supporting sponsor, we’ve got a television title sponsor, a radio title sponsor, and then we’ve got the local newspapers. ... With any one of our eight games, we will have three to four title sponsors with their own areas. What we’ve asked for them ... is to take accountability to promote that game via trade back in [commercial] spots and advertising.” Jones said that strategy has resulted in “three or four” beat writers, including ones from the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and TV stations traveling to San Jose to cover Saturday’s game. Jones said, “We’re getting more coverage than any other [AFL] team out there.”
YOUTH OF THE NATION: The influence of the Mormon church over the Salt Lake region and the large numbers of families that live there have presented the Blaze with unique marketing challenges and opportunities. Jones said, “Getting involved with these youth (sports) programs has just been paramount.” To that end, the Blaze, in advance of ever playing a game, partnered with the Ute Conference youth football league, the only non-county-run youth organization in Salt Lake City. Each of the 8,000 participants in the Ute Conference received a membership card into the Junior Blaze fan club, which Jones said gives them “discount benefits on single-game tickets and gives them a merchandise package if they buy into season tickets.” The team has become hands-on with the arrangement, as Blaze coach Danny White spoke at the league’s year-end awards banquet. Jones also said, “We’ve even thought of going down the road of having the Ute Conference jersey sporting a patch supporting the [Blaze], like we do in the AFL.” Meanwhile, each high school in the Salt Lake Valley will be represented at games by a sponsor that subsidizes tickets for the students.
|Brigade Starting Year Early
Due To Hurricane Katrina
SEASONS GREETINGS: The mid-fall announcement of the creation of the franchise provided a natural boost for the Brigade. Prochnow said, “We got the launch date right in early October, right in the middle of when people are paying attention to football. We didn’t have to work so hard initially to generate interest like we did when we thought we’d be launching this team in the middle of baseball season.” The team ran a “name the team” contest that drew the immediate attention of the K.C. market. Prochnow said due to the contest, the club had “a fairly sizable database that we started with. ... We asked people to indicate whether they were interested in purchasing season tickets and finding out more information about the team from that.” The team launched a marketing campaign that involved every media source –- print, TV, radio and e-mail messages as well as a grass-roots component. That jump start, combined with the ambitious ad strategy, has helped the team sell 7,800 season-ticket packages in advance of its home-opener February 12.
MORE AFL: For AFL fan demographics, please see Back Of The Book. This concludes THE DAILY’s week-long look at the AFL, including a Q&A with Avengers Owner Casey Wasserman, an AFL Spons-o-Meter, a Turnkey Sports Poll about the league and an examination of league marketing efforts. In addition, see this week’s issue of SportsBusiness Journal for an in-depth on the AFL.