Sunday, August 23, 2009

Home Field/Ice/Court Advantage for Sports Marketers

In my opinion, the home stadium of a team can act as the largest advertising tool for an organization. The key is for it to be as interactive with the local community as much as possible.

Billboard and transit advertising can both be pricey and ineffective. No marketing strategy should ever solely rely on this form, but as been said in previous posts, branding a team in a town is a multi-pronged effort and advertising certainly has its place in the marketing landscape. A stadium gives teams the means and place for advertising with maximum control and minimal costs. They can use the entire physical structure as a marketing tool, and the land it sits on as well.

Outdoor baseball, soccer, and football teams present an ideal environment for advertising. With placement near large traffic areas, near highways and major routes, nearby motorists are able to peer into the stadium and take in a few seconds of the action within. It's probably fair to say that people in general enjoy doing things that other people are doing, so if they pass by and see 30,000 flag waving, yelling fans, they'll probably find some way to inquire about what they saw, whether by visiting the teams website, or looking them up. If they are already fans, this may merely serve as a reminder that they better go catch a game. Even when nothing is going on, people are naturally drawn to the decks of seats, the green field, the scoreboard. It's an unusual sight in a city of concrete buildings. The stadium in its own way brands the team as part of the city. All of these commercial outlets add to the amount of people traffic as well, giving the area a very lively vibe on game days and not.

The local areas is also important as well. Stadiums naturally draw larger than normal crowds. Even a team that averages 10,000 fans a game is still quite a feat compared to other entertainment (cinemas, amusement parks). As a result, team officials should be concerned with the procurement of commercial outlets surrounding their home stadium. Restaurants, bars, memorabilia shops, merchandise shops, cafes, hotels, sport-related parks can all act to tie the team culture of the nearby stadium with the surrounding neighbourhood. And these neighbourhoods reinforce the image of the stadium as an advertising tool. If one walks on Yawkey Way in Boston and sees sports bar after sports bar, all handing Red Sox flags outside their window, that tells me that this neighbourhood is really an extension of the baseball stadium across the street--that I am in a Red Sox neighbourhood, and this may encourage my involvement in supporting the Red Sox.

The Air Canada Centre will feature a enormous video screen which will face down Bremnar Boulevard starting for the 2009/10 season. The screen may provide statistics for fans, gamescores, and highlights as well as live broadcasts for fans who weren't able to purchase tickets for the game. Near the ACC is a collection of many high rise condominiums with balconies that face this screen. Needless to say, this will be a major advertising tool for MLSE related teams and entertainment. Since hockey arenas cannot be seen from outside (though I think the proper architecture could make hockey arenas do this), a major video screen showing whats going on inside is the next best thing. And should the Raptors, Rock, or Leafs make the playoffs, fans can pull up a folding chair outside and live out the experience going on inside, outside.