SBJ/March 22 - 28, 2004/Facilities

Phillies, Padres pick up FanTrak

Philadelphia fans have been surveyed by FanTrak at about 25 events at Wachovia Center.

The Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres have reached deals to use computerized fan-survey system FanTrak as the clubs open their new ballparks this season.

More than 40 pro teams, organizations and events in the last five months have signed contracts with Turnkey Sports, a Highland, Md.-based sports consultant that owns half of the FanTrak technology in a partnership with Buffalo-based InQuery. The FanTrak program uses handheld, personal data assistants to compile information from question-and-answer sessions. Each PDA can handle 30 to 40 completed surveys.

Clients receive passwords to access their data, which is made available online, and can instantly tabulate the information from surveys completed during a game.

Len Perna, president and CEO of Turnkey Sports, said the system takes the place of workers roaming the concourse with clipboards and pencils and then spending hours sifting through stacks of papers.

The Padres plan to test FanTrak internally before the regular season begins. Then, starting April 10, the second home game at Petco Park, the club will measure trends in customer service, concessions satisfaction, and transportation and parking.

"What sold us was the immediacy of getting the information and getting the responses," said Steve Violetta, Padres executive vice president of business affairs.

The cost appealed to the Phillies as they prepare to open Citizens Bank Park.

"It's far less than the traditional means of surveying," said Jo-Anne Levy-Lamoreaux, the team's manager of advertising. "Once we start, I see us doing it at every game."

Perna said full-service market research can normally cost a team $40,000 to $50,000. FanTrak costs about $18,000, with the surveys representing the largest portion of the expense. Perna said most clients purchase five to eight surveys, with the cost upward of $15,000. Turnkey Sports charges $2,000 for a yearly Web site license and $1,000 for 10 Palm Pilots.

Comcast-Spectacor of Philadelphia has used FanTrak at about 25 Wachovia Center events with the NBA 76ers and NHL Flyers.

"We noticed that people are willing to take the time to go through the survey. It takes no more than five minutes," said John Page, the arena's senior vice president and general manager.

The Minnesota Twins used FanTrak during a homestand late last season to learn their fans' thoughts on the game-day experience at the Metrodome.

"It was seamless and timely," said Patrick Klinger, the Twins' vice president of marketing. "We were able to look at results on the Web site within an hour after we downloaded the information."

The Chicago White Sox will use FanTrak this season to get feedback about the ongoing renovations at U.S. Cellular Field. The team eventually will have season-ticket holders survey their fellow fans, "since the technology is so simple," said club spokesman Scott Reifert.

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