How to put fans in the seats.
June 12, 2006 10:47 AM   Subscribe

How can I generate fan interest in a minor college sports team?

I'm trying to figure out ways to help an NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse team get fans at their games. Things like pre-game barbecues, halftime contests, etc.

Keeping in mind that their budget is limited, what kinds of things could they do that would get students/fans to come to the games for a sport they probably aren't very familiar with? What are the cleverest promotions and gimmicks that you've seen other sports teams do? Any suggestions appreciated, no matter how zany. In fact, the zanier the better. Bill Veeck kind of stuff.
posted by TunnelArmr to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total)
Students are easy: free food.

Involving the community usually entails make it attractive to families, i.e., fun stuff for kids to do.
posted by deadfather at 10:56 AM on June 12, 2006

Have a free lacrosse clinic for kids before the game. Free, and the kids (and parents) get to learn about the game.
posted by mikepop at 10:59 AM on June 12, 2006

Get sponsors. Get them to give you free stuff to hand out at games. Usually, your school will have someone in charge of "Sports Marketing" or "Sports Rights" ... they're salespeople in charge of finding opportunities to link up the sports teams of the school with sponsorship programs. Free stuff attracts people like no other. Get local radio stations and tv stations to announce on the air that there's a sponsorship night. I.e. "Local Dealership Key Fob night at the Puddletown College Women's Lacrosse game tonight!"

We always produce a calandar of games each year with a nice photo of all of the girls on the team. They're offered or sale at events, and given for free to community businesses as long as the business posts them in open view.

Ask your compliance people for rules before you do anything!!!!!!!!! I can't say that enough!!!!!

(Can I use a blink tag for that please?)

You can get your ass (and your players) in a serious crack if you cross the NCAA sponsorship or promotions guidelines. For instance, having a lacrosse clinic before the game can count as a "Recruiting event" where prospective recruits are alloewd to "Show their stuff", and if so, you will likely lose your job and your team could lose their ability to compete in NCAA events for that year.
posted by SpecialK at 11:07 AM on June 12, 2006

posted by SpecialK at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2006

"Fun is Good" - by Bill Veek's son Mike, who manages 6 minor league teams. (The elder Veeck has a book, but its pretty dated in terms of what you want - go with the son).

Also, just cherry pick from this google search, add a few terms here and there, and you're sure to find what you're looking for.

But is wacky really what would serve you best? Gotta go now, but if I can, later I'd like to talk about the value of sincerity alloyed with wackiness, as opposed to wackiness alone.
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:09 AM on June 12, 2006

For Woman's lax, I would target the local middle school girls and high school girls. Offer to have the team do a clinic for the local teams/league/school/gym classes. Have players go to them first. Fans will follow.

Sex sells too. I would produce a team calender of sexy shots and give them to the local fraternities and male dominated clubs.

The surest way to generate publicity is to WIN.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:12 AM on June 12, 2006

Having worked wtih Div III sports teams for 6 years, the key is to gain sponsorships.

You'd be suprised how many businesses will just give you free food, products, supplies, etc.

But like everyone else has stated: talk with you office of student activities first. There are many things they don't want you to do and their are many businesses they do not want you to work with.

At the same time, head to the office of alumni affairs. Chances are great that in they will know boosters or women's lax alumni with cash disposale income and resources that are at your disposal.

Alumni LOVE to be asked to give back. So hit them up first.

Also... if YOU don't believe in the lax team, NOBODY will. That is the key to gaining interest: your attitude

Good luck.
posted by bamassippi at 11:26 AM on June 12, 2006

JohnnyGunn wrote "Sex sells too. "

Might not be the best time to market lacrosse using sex, JohnnyGunn. Free food or free T-shirts is probably a safer route until this whole Duke thing is wrapped up.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:52 AM on June 12, 2006

Win games.
posted by jdroth at 11:57 AM on June 12, 2006

Seconding the "sex sells, create a calendar" idea from above. Division I? Do it right and you have a national story.

But besides that, you know what I hate about some college sports? The lack of interesting branded merchandise. I go to a game, I like the team, and if there's a nifty ball cap with a cool logo, I want to buy it.

But there's a truckload of teams that apparently have no imagination when it comes to hat and T-shirt designs...
posted by frogan at 12:14 PM on June 12, 2006

Do goofy stuff between quarters, ala the hotdog/sausage races at the Milwaukee Brewers games. Do promotions where fans bringing in "X" get a free "Y", where "Y" is something provided to you by sponsors, and "X" is something that will create a spectacle or make things more fun for the audiece. Make the games fun to be at.
posted by cosmicbandito at 12:34 PM on June 12, 2006 has loads of resources for college and minor league teams. They have premium ideas sorted by price, entertainer contact info and best practices from teams around the U.S.
posted by dripdripdrop at 1:01 PM on June 12, 2006

These are great suggestions, thanks guys. The compliance stuff is definitely something to be mindful of.

I actually suggested something like a sausage race once, but nobody else was on board...
posted by TunnelArmr at 1:29 PM on June 12, 2006

Whatever you do, you need a plan. If you can articulate exactly what makes your team special/interesting to people not already solid fans, you can create events that are not just wacky or fun but that also communicate your message.

And you'll find that you can sell almost anything if you can show how it communicates your message as well as put fans in the stands. And if the message is developed with the input of the team/coaches so much the better.

Brainstorming sessions are great for this. Brainstorming is actually a poor way to generate creativity, but it's great way to generate buy-in for whatever you do come up with, because everyone will feel ownership.
posted by Jos Bleau at 2:20 PM on June 12, 2006

hate to be a repeat but

posted by foraneagle2 at 11:51 PM on June 12, 2006

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