Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jays @ Seattle: Unchartered Waters of Revenue

When the Jays take on the Seattle Mariners this weekend, officials expect around 10,000 fans from the north side of the border to travel down to Safeco Field and watch their Jays play. That's 10,000 fans buying tickets, 10,000 fans buying merchandise, and 10,000 fans whose trips would be elevated to a euphoric feeling level if they actually got the chance to meet the members of their favorite team. So it would seem like a natural decision for the Jays to capitalize on this west coast passion, financially, if only to help solidify the Jays relationship with their fans.

In a year where attendance is down and several major sponsorship deals have fallen through, it is prudent for sports teams to discover alternate sources of revenue, to help minimize the impact felt by their losses. For the Jays, they have been offered a gift by the fans of the west: they must capitalize on their passionate fan base.

Paul Beeston's philosophy on the Blue Jays has always been to brand them as Canada's Team, and with the Expos gone, can truly market themselves all over Canada. In terms of British Colombia, the Jays could very easily start up a Blue Jays Tour division, that organizes and schedules Blue Jays related trips to Seattle and maybe even other places, depending on demand. BC Place has previously held baseball games and could very easily book a Exhibition Series against the Mariners before the regular season begins. If the average ticket price is $20, and attendance for a two game series is 70,000, gate revenues alone would be 1.4 million and could easily top 2 million dollars once box sales, merchandise sales, VIP packages with player signings, and other areas of revenue are factored in. A three game series could increase this number to 2.5 million. For an organization that has lost key sponsors in the past year, that money is not chump change.

Lost in the finances is also the goodwill gained from providing fans with an opportunity to exclusively watch their team in an unusual place at an unusual time, and the positive relationships made with fans and the brand during that series. After the series, installing a Jays Shop in a popular centrally located Vancouver mall will help gauge interest in the team over the season but provide additional revenue, now and for the future.

These ideas are not exclusive to British Colombia either. Winnipeg is in fair proximity to Minnesota. There are currently bus trips that run to Minnesota designed for Jays fans in Winnipeg to take. Since the organization itself is scheduling these trips, there is potential to include special rallies, signings, or player meet-and-greets that not only build relatinoships with the fans who participate but act as a competitive device over alternate bus tour groups. Admittedly, this is a different, unsusual business for a sports organization to be in, but is something that the Red Sox do with DestiNations, who are blessed with an endless road of money have started and continue to do.