The Best Grilled Cheese In Sports

In honor of today’s celebration of #NationalGrilledCheeseDay, we thought it would be fun to look at which teams offer a grilled cheese item on their concessions menu.  The task was surprisingly challenging as grilled cheese apparently isn’t considered much of a ballpark staple, despite the current trend of creating eclectic food items at sports venues.  It should also be noted that we haven’t actually tried any of these, so the ranking is rather arbitrary.

That said, here are the top five best grilled cheese sandwiches in sports…

Honorable Mentions:

Montgomery Biscuits – “The Gump”

While the  Biscuits actually offer FOUR variations of grilled cheese sandwiches, our vote goes to “The Gump” which incorporates pork shoulder, BBQ sauce, coleslaw, “candied red onions” with pepper jack cheese to provide some zip on sourdough bread.

Chicago White Sox – “Avocado Bacon Grilled Cheese”

Thanks Night Train Veeck for the heads up…avocado and bacon added to a grilled cheese sandwich?  Sounds delicious!

Round Rock Express – “Grilled Cheese Dog”

What says baseball more than hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks?  While The Express’ unique spin on a grilled cheese might not contain the peanuts or cracker jacks, but it has successfully combined the hot dog with a traditional, down home comfort food.  According to Minor League Baseball’s website, the “Grilled Cheese Dog” is made with a quarter-pound of Nolan Ryan’s 100-percent hand-selected All Natural Grass Fed Beef wrapped in a grilled cheese sandwich then skewered.  A true Texas delight.

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For Comparison’s Sake

Obviously a lot has been made of Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe’s critical comments of the UConn Huskies women’s basketball program.  The suggestion that their dominance was actually “bad” for the women’s game stirred quite a bit of controversy.  Not that it bothered the UConn women as they steamrolled their way to a historic 4th consecutive championship.

While comparing Husky women’s program to some of the blue blood men’s programs like Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina may prove to be unfair, comparing their impact to a rising power in the men’s ranks might provide a little perspective as to how valuable the UConn brand is to the women’s game.

In a totally unscientific, random but fun exercise, let’s use the Oregon Ducks as an example.  The Ducks earned a #1 seed in the men’s tournament while the Huskies were awarded a #1 seed in the women’s tournament.  Seems like a good place to start, no?

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Infographic: How are sports marketers targeting the female demographic?

Lately sports marketers have not been shy in their efforts to target female fans and for good reason.  Women now constitute at least 30% of the fan base for all of the “big four” professional sports leagues in the U.S. and 46% of Super Bowl viewers were female.

To provide a closer look, the fine folks at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Business School put together a fantastic infographic offering a quick look at ways brands are working to engage female fans.  For more analysis, check out this story on forbes.com from Kristi Dosh (and follow her on Twitter @sportsbizmiss).

NFL Jersey Sales

Think fast: which NFL player sells the most jerseys in Hawaii?  Titans’ standout rookie QB Marcus Mariota (who originally hails from Hawaii)?  Nope.  The most popular jersey in Hawaii is actually Seahawks’ star Russell Wilson.

That is just a sample of some of the data provided by Dick’s Sporting Goods.  See what other interesting information your students uncover by reviewing the following graphics in class…

College Football Season Recap: By the numbers…

With Alabama’s exciting win in a shootout over Clemson to win the 2016 College Football Championship, yet another college football season is in the books.

Here are a few sports business stories and statistics from this season that might be fun to discuss in class. Use this information to reinforce concepts like the size and scope of the industry, the impact of supply and demand on ticket prices, how sponsors connect their brands with fans and the critical role broadcast rights play in the business sports.

$3 Million

As in the expense for Alabama Football…just for their “support staff” payroll. According to cbssports.com, Alabama’s strength and conditioning coach was paid over $500,000 in compensation for the 2015 season.

$810,000

According to a report from USA Today, Auburn spent $810,000 to “brand” their practice facility with graphics that “tell the story of the Tigers’ success”, a trend being followed by football programs all over the country

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Evolution of the T-Shirt Toss

Fans love free stuff.  Especially t-shirts that are launched into the crowd.  That’s probably why a “t-shirt toss” has always been one of the most popular promos at sporting events.

However, at the Army vs. Navy college football Bowl game today, Army took things to a whole new level. Before we share that, however, let’s look at the evolution of the t-shirt toss promo.  Originally, we had your basic t-shirt “toss” where tees were thrown to the crowd.

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Holiday Kicks

Looks like a lot of holiday cheer this year as sneaker brands outfit some of their athletes with holiday themed kicks.  In fairness, a few of athletes appear to have gone rogue with their over the top ensembles (yes, you Odell Beckham Jr. and Cam Newton) but kind of fun either way to see them celebrating the holidays…

Odell Beckham Jr. and his Nike “Christmas” cleats

Cam Newton’s Under Armour cleats on game day

Kyrie Irving’s “Abominable Snowman” themed Nikes

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Action Sports on Tour…

I saw this upcoming show being promoted on a recent trip to Las Vegas and thought it was interesting and could present a good teaching opportunity:

Travis Pastrana is one of the most recognizable names in action sports so it makes total sense for him to headline an action sports tour like this.  Structured as a “touring” event, the benefits are twofold as this will certainly help extend his personal brand while helping to grow the popularity of the sport.  Taking the event on tour is a great way to bring the excitement of action sports to markets that haven’t had an opportunity to see events like the X Games or Dew Tour live and in person.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS FOR CLASS DISCUSSION:

1) What is a brand?  Is action sports a brand?  Is Travis Pastrana a brand?

2) Why do you think they are touring rather than hosting one main event in one location?

3) What demographics might define the typical action sports fan?

4) What type of sponsors might be interested in reaching action sports fans?

 

The Art of the Concert Poster…In Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets have enjoyed a TON of buzz from a new initiative this year.  It looks like they enlisted the talents of graphic designer Anthony Zych (follow him on Twitter @anthonyzych) to create game-day prints promoting Blue Jackets games, each customized based on opponent.

They have been wildly popular among fans, many who apparently are disappointed they cannot purchase them as of yet.  They are, however, available as digital downloads for free.  Based on the reception Anthony’s designs thus far, one would expect the team to continue releasing the graphics. My guess is that Anthony’s services will soon be in high demand…my only question is, why isn’t every team doing this?

Here are a few of my personal favorites:

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“Hoosiers” & Pacers Team Up

I love what the Indiana Pacers are doing to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the classic basketball movie, ‘Hoosiers’.  In a comprehensive cross promotion campaign, the team is doing everything from donning replica “throwback” uniforms from the film to engaging in a fun mobile marketing effort.

Through the team’s social media, the team used the hashtag #HickoryPacers in a nod to the high school team which was the focal point of the film.

The Pacers also engaged in a unique mobile marketing strategy in the traditional sense by touring the city in the team bus used in the film.  They also made a stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Check out the team’s tweet with members of the mobile team (including the team’s mascot) participating in the storied tradition of “kissing the bricks.”

Nice work on a fun cross promotion by all parties involved!