SBJ/October 18 - 24, 2004/SBJ In Depth

The wild and wacky world of sports promotions

Sports promoters don’t always stick to tradition when looking for ways to fill seats. Case in point:

Win a free cremation!
In July the Single-A Brevard County Manatees in Florida gave away a $695 cremation during a game at Space Coast Stadium. Beckman-Williamson Funeral Home sponsored the giveaway.

Gone to the dogs
Also in July, the Detroit Tigers

Rover was welcomed in Miami and Detroit.
played host to their second “Bark in the Park” promotion. Dogs and their owners sat in a special pavilion in the left-field stands. The Florida Marlins held a similar event in May, and sold 723 pet tickets at Pro Player Stadium.

Divine intervention
The Triple-A Nashville Sounds have found that a little faith goes far in selling tickets. The team this year held seven “Faith Night” promotions, which included a Moses bobblehead giveaway and appearances by Christian bands.

Casting votes
In August, Bobblection Night sent baseball fans to the polls in seven minor league ballparks in seven states, from Massachusetts to Minnesota. Fans were asked to enter election booths and vote for either President George W. Bush or Sen. John Kerry. For participating, each fan was allowed to choose between a Bush or Kerry bobblehead. Bush won four of the seven states.

Down the drain
The Class AA Birmingham Barons, celebrating sponsor Roto-Rooter, gave away 1,500 plungers during a July promotion.

The Barons decided to take the plunge.
The plungers featured the Roto-Rooter logo and phone number, and the Barons logo. So if the plunger doesn’t do the trick, fans at least will know whom to call.

Get out of jail
The independent Frontier League River City Rascals canceled a “Sports Criminals Night” promotion that would have turned the team’s Missouri stadium into a giant prison, with a fan thrown into a “dugout jail” each inning. The June promotion was intended to poke fun at how the media sensationalizes athletes who have run-ins with the justice system.

Getting tanked for tickets
In May the Tampa Bay Lightning acknowledged it really wasn’t a good idea to offer fans free beer during home playoff games in exchange for a deposit on season tickets. The promotion was offered during Game 1 of the team’s series against the Flyers. The team offered four coupons redeemable for either a 12-ounce beer or a soft drink to anyone depositing $100 toward 2004-05 season tickets.

Home sweet home
The Triple-A Memphis Redbirds and Beazer Homes partnered to give away a $140,000 to $150,000 house in a Beazer-owned subdivision to a fan at the end of the season. Redbirds VP/Marketing Kerry Sewell: “The concept came to mind because of our theme of making AutoZone Park your summer home. What’s better to cap it off than to give away a home?”

Blown out of proportion
AFL Commissioner David Baker fined the Orlando Predators $10,000 over a planned April promotion in which fans were encouraged to bring inflatable dolls to a game against the VooDoo. The fan with the best doll was to have been rewarded with $500 and a keg of beer. Predators managing partner Brett Bouchy said that he never approved the controversial campaign and pulled all radio ads.
Sources: SportsBusiness Journal research, The Sports Business Daily

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