Sports Career Consulting Blog
- SportsBiz Madness: 2022 Case Study Tournament Championship Round Results
SportsBiz Madness: 2022 Case Study Tournament (Championship Round Results)
We have a champion!
In the championship round of this year’s SportsBiz Madness SCC case study tournament, our two finalists were asked to examine the surging popularity of pickleball and develop a strategy for sustained, long-term growth of the niche sport. While popularity is at an all-time high, there are some barriers for growth. Participation levels risk plateauing because of the significant lack of available courts around the country. As a spectator sport, pickleball has a lot of opportunity for growth, and the sport would benefit from engaging younger fans.
Students from both Flower Mound High School in Texas and Downers Grove North in Illinois submitted fantastic plans for addressing each of the challenges pickleball officials face in taking the next step in growing the game. In the end, however, it was Downers Grove High School that came out on top, earning its first-ever national SportsBiz Madness case study championship. Congratulations to Drew Himes and his sports marketing students!
Championship Round Recap:
Downers Grove North Nigh School (Illinois) VS. Flower Mound High School (Texas)
Flower Mound High School (Runner Up)
As usual, Jessica Brown had her students well-prepared for the championship round of the competition. The pickleball growth plan submitted by her class was very well-organized, thorough, and offered a variety of great ideas for fueling long-term growth for the sport. While Flower Mound students came up just short this year, they have a lot to be proud of as they consistently offered great ideas throughout the tournament, demonstrating a fantastic understanding of the business of sports and entertainment.
- Addressing the limited number of courts, Flower Mound students suggested a plan for national partnerships with YMCAs and community centers to expand the opportunities for players to find court time…seems that could be a very effective strategy in the short term
- To increase the number of spectators, FMHS students introduced a plan for streaming major events on social media platforms (killing two birds with one stone by reaching a younger audience) and on alternative sports broadcast networks like DAZN
- Love the Tik Tok video series and Snap and Instagram filters to draw attention to the sport on social, teaching the rules and alerting fans to upcoming events (streaming included) will most definitely help to connect with a younger audience, and the influencer campaign featuring YouTube stars would be a great way to boost excitement for the sport
- “Pickleball Ambassador Program” seems like a really interesting way to connect with new fans, and featuring “star” players provides an interesting marketing angle
- Great idea to stage exhibition events in alignment with major USA tennis tournaments to help bring awareness and visibility to the sport
- REALLY smart idea to build a grassroots campaign with “Pickleball for Fitness” promoting pickleball participation in schools (similar to the Jump Rope for Heart foundation)
- Cool idea to host an “All-Star Pickleball Weekend” event to build a bigger spectator audience, with events that will offer experiential marketing opportunities to engage sports fans, along with a variety of promotions and sponsorship activations
Great job Flower Mound students. There is no shame in a runner-up finish!
Downers Grove North High School (CHAMPIONS!)
Congratulations to Drew Himes and his students at Downers Grove North for winning this year’s SportsBiz Madness case study tournament. Like every other case study response in this tournament, the strategic development of a plan for the continued growth of pickleball was brilliant! The inclusion of a positioning and differentiation strategy was also a great way to really emphasize how Downers Grove North students will help to push pickleball into the mainstream. Very well done!
Championship winning highlights include:
- EXCELLENT job with the SWOT Analysis, including the incredible attention to detail with statistics to support the sport’s current market position, then allowing the analysis to guide the strategic planning
- One thing that stood out with the Downers Grove North strategic plan is the recognition that, while reaching a younger demographic presents a growth opportunity, the sport’s strength lies in its current popularity with an older demographic
- As such, students included plans to launch Grandparent/Grandchildren events and competitions, promoting the sport as low-impact and affordable to continue encouraging an older demographic to get out and play pickleball, and building pickleball courts in popular retirement communities and travel destinations like cruise ships
- Love the idea of finding celebrity fans to endorse the sport through social media (sharing highlights of them playing) and other advertising platforms to help fans connect with pickleball
- The “Celebrity Pickleball Match” featuring celebrities paired with professional pickleball players in an exhibition sounds like a perfect made-for-TV event that could reach thousands of new fans unfamiliar with the sport
- Also really liked the idea of an exhibition event featuring the two highest ranked pickleball players played on a court high in the mountains above Lake Tahoe, along with a broadcast where the players are “mic’d up”
- Recognizing the need to cater to a younger audience if the sport hopes to attract young fans, a broadcast arrangement with Nickelodeon will most certainly help differentiate pickleball from other leisure sports
- Interesting idea to strategically partner with Nike to help add a “cool” factor to the sport, and creating a line of pickleball streetwear fashion could have some real potential
- Great idea to broadcast games on ESPN2 which will allow for the sport to reach a wide audience, and including well known announcers like Al Michaels, Gus Johnson, Bob Menery (and more) will help establish credibility for the sport while giving fans even more of a reason to tune in to check out the action
- Re-structuring the existing championship format in a way that major cities will play host to tour events throughout the year will help to bring the sport to the masses, drawing both viewers on television and spectators at events
- Good idea to re-purpose other sports venues (basketball, badminton, inline skating, tennis courts) to host pickleball matches is a good short-term solution for creating opportunities for more people to play while investing in the construction of more Pickleball-specific courts that will help to provide a solution to that problem in the long-term
- Really liked some of the grassroots efforts to get younger fans playing pickleball, including encouraging colleges to offer the sport as an intramural option and it is a FANTASTIC idea to encourage the NCAA to establish pickleball as an officially sanctioned NCAA sport, along with youth camps during the summer for younger players
- Interesting idea to open betting lines opened in Las Vegas on professional pickleball matches (including the aforementioned exhibition matches) as we have seen the impact fantasy sports and gambling can have on boosting overall interest in a sport or game, which could also create a valuable revenue stream by opening up sponsorship opportunities
- Great idea to create the “PickleWatch” app to:
- Stream matches
- Create revenue opportunities (money to be reinvested in growing the game) through ad sales, ticket sales, and merchandise
- Map helping people find and sign up for court time in local areas
- Promote current Pickleball “stars” helping fans build a deeper connection with the athletes playing the sport at a high level
- Really cool digital strategy to create a pickleball VR game “that allows the player to choose and customize their character, unlock different locations, and collect different rackets which give you special abilities for advantages” while also providing opportunities for fans to play the sport even when a court might not be available
Really well done Downers Grove North! Congratulations, you are the new SportsBiz Madness case study tournament champs!
2022 SportsBiz Madness Case Study Tournament Bracket
- SportsBiz Madness: 2022 Case Study Tournament Final Four Results
SportsBiz Madness: 2022 Case Study Tournament (Final Four Round Results)
The Championship Round is Set!
For the Final Four round of this competition, our competitors were tasked with the development of a strategy for activating Coca-Cola’s NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship sponsorship to introduce its new “Starlight” flavor.
To find out who advanced to the championship round in this year’s tournament, please read on…
Props to all our Final Four competitors!
Determining which students would advance to the final round of the competition was an extremely tough call. You should all be proud of how far you have come in this tournament!
Pinelands Regional High School (New Jersey) VS. Flower Mound High School (Texas)
In a battle between former champions, Flower Mound High School will advance to the championship round looking to reclaim the title from six years ago, the first-ever winners of this competition. Not surprisingly, students from Pinelands Regional did not bow out easily, but Flower Mound students brought some very cool activation strategies to the table and managed to pull out a victory.
Pinelands Regional High School
As usual, Kathy Bennett’s students brought it in the Final Four round, presenting a variety of really good ideas for Coca-Cola to activate their NCAA sponsorship in a way that would bring awareness to the launch of the brand’s new “Starlight” flavor. A few highlights:
- For every team in the March Madness tournament, there will be ten “Share a Starlight Coke with…” versions of Coca-Cola bottles that have the names of each team’s “Starting Stars” under the bottle cap. If you happen to purchase one of these ten bottles, you will receive the opportunity to meet the “Starting Stars” from each team after the game
- Virtual ads of Starlight Coca-Cola will be presented on the score table in-game providing an opportunity to maximize gross impressions
- After a spectacular play, Augmented Digital Reality would be used to superimpose the Starlight logo onto the court during the replay on TV, making this the “STARlight Highlight”
- Prior to the start of the tournament, Coca-Cola will sponsor “send off parties” for every team participating in the tournament, including signage and opportunities for students at each school to sample the new Starlight flavor
- Sampling opportunities will also be provided at all NCAA tournament host venues so fans can try to the new product while attending games
- To boost fan engagement, fans will be encouraged to participate in a survey listing their favorite flavors of Coke brand products, entering them into an opportunity to be in a hype video featuring some of the brand’s athlete and celebrity ambassadors
In addition to the survey, the brand would also collect email addresses…what a great way to incorporate a data capture strategy as part of the overall activation plan! Also, we thought the product placement strategy was interesting, using AR to make sure the new flavor receives maximum visibility throughout the tournament. Finally, the “Shooting Star” promotion seems like a really great idea. From the student’s marketing plan:
“Coca-Cola will designate one college athlete participating in March Madness to be a “Shooting Star.” The athlete must have a high shooting percentage and play more than one-half of their game in order to be considered for the award. The “Shooting Star” of each game will be announced on camera and then gifted a case full of the new Starlight Coca-Cola as well as a t-shirt sponsored by the drink. Each Star will be entered into a poll that will be voted on by fans via social media to see who is the ultimate winner of the NCAA “Shooting Star” competition. The winner will have their picture printed on Starlight Coca-Cola labels for two months after they win the title. With the advent of Name, Image and Likeness in the NCAA, this is a great way to get young and “up and coming” athletes to become Coca-Cola brand sponsors.”
REALLY like the idea of taking advantage of the NIL rules to bring the student-athletes into the campaign. That is really forward-thinking and demonstrates a great grasp on industry trends, great job. The social media plan was also on-point. Overall, another fantastic effort from Pinelands Regional High School. Unfortunately, they came up just a bit short this year.
Flower Mound High School:
Jessica Brown’s students at Flower Mound High School narrowly edged out Pinelands Regional, but the creativity and uniqueness of some of the ideas shared by this group of students propelled them to a victory (and a spot in the championship round).
- Activation went well beyond on-site signage and sampling or retail promotion, including a full fledged advertising campaign leveraging the brand’s official affiliation with March Madness to include social, print, television and out-of-home
- Appreciate the out of box thinking on signage at NCAA tournament venues…not just traditional signage inventory, but also ads in elevators and even including “Starlight” branding on escalators
- Really liked the focus on experiential marketing as part of the team’s overall activation strategy, giving fans a reason to come try the product by setting up exhibits at Fan Fest events like a Starlight-themed pop-a-shot game
- Cool idea to provide fans with an opportunity to customize Starlight bottles and jerseys with their own names, a strategy that most definitely generate word-of-mouth for the new product and encourage more fans to visit the Starlight experience exhibit
- Nice sales promotion with limited-edition bottles at retail featuring the logos of each team participating in the tournament, helping to make inroads in markets around the country by catering to each individual fan base and giving sales a boost
- Going a step further in promoting the new product on campuses around the country, we thought it was a really cool idea to send “street teams” to campus to help promote Starlight, and providing free samples at Coca-Cola “freestyle” machines could certainly help to build hype surrounding the new product
In addition, we really liked the commitment to sustainability. Packaging Starlight products in compostable bottles will certainly capture the attention of fans, particularly when targeting college students as Flower Mounds students have done with this campaign.
Last but not least, really nice job on the social media activations. Here is a description from the team’s activation plan: “A Tik Tok challenge called #StarlightTrashBask, a special Snapchat filter where fans can play Bowl-O-Rama ( pictured right ), and an Instagram filter where fans can be transformed into a Coca-Cola Starlight can. The Tik Tok challenges fans to play Trashketball with their friends and post it on Tik Tok with the hashtag #StarlightTrashBask. At the end of each weekend of games we will pick a winner and the winners will receive free Coca-Cola for one year.” In addition, the team will launch a special Snapchat filter that “engages fans by playing a special themed Starlight Bowl-O-Rama game where fans can challenge and play their Snapchat besties.”
This one came down to a last-second shot, but Flower Mound students hit a buzzer-beater to advance to the final round. Great job!
Green Run High School (Virginia) VS. Downers Grove North High School (Illinois)
Is this finally the year for Drew Himes and his students at Downers Grove North High School? After several deep tournament runs in our SportsBiz Madness case study tournaments (including a trip to last year’s finals), Downers Grove North managed to hold off last year’s champs from Green Run High School to advance to the 2022 championship round.
Green Run High School:
Green Run students offered some really creative ideas and clearly put a lot of effort into crafting an activation strategy, but unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough for a second straight finals appearance. There were quite a few highlights, however, as Chris Jacobs clearly had his students very well prepared for this case study.
A recap of the Green Run activation strategy:
Overall, we thought it was a smart strategy to, as stated in Green Run’s activation plan, “maximize brand awareness with a variety of activation strategies including retail promotions, media awareness, venue and on-site promotions, creative product introductions and fan experiences.” It is important to focus on a mix of marketing channels to build awareness for a product launch. Well done.
- We absolutely loved seeing a plan for reaching fans of the NCAA Women’s Tournament in addition to the men’s tournament, a trend echoed by multiple major U.S. brands this year, and the partnership with Target is a natural one give Minneapolis as the host city of this year’s event…good stuff!
- The positioning strategy (“The Drink of Future Legends”) makes sense for reaching a younger audience, and the slogan (“Be Bold, Indulge in the Unexpected”) sends a clear message to consumers when marketing such a unique product with a flavor nobody has ever tried (or heard of) before
- Great idea to feature a sweepstakes promo to help push traffic to your digital and social platforms by providing fans with an opportunity to win limited edition licensed merchandise (in particular the brand’s “Coca Cola Creations” website
- Great idea to provide sampling opportunities in a variety of places, including outside of tournament venues and we thought it was a really cool idea to offer limited edition desserts made with Starlight Coca-Cola on the concessions menus inside March Madness arenas (including posting those recipes to social media platforms)
- Really nice use of VR and gamification to boost fan engagement, including the poll which can provide some valuable feedback about the new product
- Through social, we thought the custom Snapchat geo-filters for those in the stadiums and those who scan the Snapcode at home was a really neat feature, along with the introduction of a Tik-Tok challenge
- Loved the cause component as well, contributing 10% of sales to organizations working toward sustainability goals along with a plan for encouraging consumers to recycle is a great idea!
Overall, really nice job from students at Green Run High School, a fantastic effort that just fell a little bit short this year.
Downers Grove North High School:
Like Green Run, Downers Grove North students developed a number of activations using a wide mix of activities surrounding March Madness, not just in-game activations at the venue or retail promotion. The strategy was very comprehensive and thorough and provided opportunities to leverage the relationship with the NCAA in a way that it maximizes consumer exposure through a variety of channels.
What really stood out about the strategy from DGNHS, however, was an emphasis on how each of these initiatives would help to drive sales. At the end of the day, marketing is supposed to drive sales, and these students really focused on developing a plan that would not only raise awareness for the “Starlight” flavor but also boost sales of Coca-Cola’s new product.
Downers Grove North students offered a clever and catchy slogan to tie all the activations together in their “Reach for the Stars” March Madness campaign.
Highlights from DGN’s activation plan include:
- “Starlight Player of the Game” feature across CBS and Turner networks broadcast coverage for all tourney games…nice job recognizing the MASSIVE audience that television and streaming can help Coca-Cola to reach in promoting the new Starlight flavor
- Excellent research to explain why the “Starlight Player of the Game” will help to create an authentic connection to consumers (via the Downers Grove North report): “William White, group director of sparkling brands at Coca-Cola North America, Atlanta said during an interview, ‘Fans are not just watching the game, they are following the stats…’ This further proves that showing stats, highlights, and top performers at the end of a game will help build awareness as many fans pay attention to those aspects of the game and will potentially be talking about it for the following days, in association with Coke Starlight. This will also link up-and-coming players with the Coca-Cola name.”
- Arena signage is important, and including a “Starlight” themed advertising on the jumbotrons of arenas hosting tournament games, along with a message encouraging fans to visit concessions areas to try to the new product seems like a great idea and an excellent way to increase sales
- For a product to sell, the demand has to be there…interesting concept for amplifying demand by tapping into the popularity of collectibles with the “Sip Your Seed” retail promo: “Starlight product will have a logo of one of the teams in the Round of 64 on it. The better seed that the team is, the more scarce the bottles will be. So the chances of getting a #16 seed is a lot more likely than getting a #1 seed. For anyone who is able to get all 64 teams, they will get 2 tickets to the National Championship Game as well as exclusive fan experiences. For the individually sold bottles, the logo will be on the inside of the wrapper. For the cans of Starlight, you will need to buy a 12 pack, and those will have the logo on the front of the can once the packaging is opened post-purchasing.” The inclusion of NFTs could add a whole new layer to the promo as well!
- TV advertising: Again, it is a smart idea to tap into advertising mediums that are proven to be effective tools for reaching a large audience, and television is historically one of the most effective ways to maximize reach. Recognizing that, DGN students launched a very on-brand TV ad (also to be shared on Coca-Cola’s YouTube channel and various social platforms) starring legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin
- Product placement: Much like the success the brand enjoyed with product placement on American Idol, DGN planned to prominently feature the new Coca-Cola product on the tables at press conferences throughout the tournament along with interviews with players and coaches
- On-site activation: “Fan Tents” will be set up to create experiential marketing opportunities at each March Madness venue, allowing fans to participate in games like pop-a-shot and other activities with chances to sample the new flavor and win Starlight-themed merchandise
- Sales promotion: Following the model of one of the most common (and effective) promotions in sports, the “Starlight Buzzer Beater Reward” promotion rewards fans at March Madness tournament games with a coupon for a free Starlight Coke if any player hits a last second shot
- Social Media: Sometimes the most effective social activations are rooted in simplicity, which is what we liked about DGN’s social strategy across its platforms, using a simple and easy to remember hashtag (#Starlight), then tagging friends and encouraging them to share with a chance to win prizes in a sweepstakes promotion (again helping to drive sales)
- Influencer campaign: TikTok “Starlight Dunk Challenge” to help the brand to reach a younger target audience where every week of March Madness, winners selected and rewarded with a Starlight-themed Nike jersey along
- Fan engagement “Extreme Food Challenge” – Fans post their most extreme foods that are “out of this world” paired with a Starlight Coke tagged with #StarlightMeal
Fantastic job Downers Grove North! Really looking forward to seeing more great ideas in the final round!
Congrats again to ALL our participants in this year’s tournament, including everyone who advanced to the bracket round of the competition. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!
2022 SportsBiz Madness Case Study Tournament Bracket
- SportsBiz Madness: 2022 Case Study Tournament (Final Four Update)
SportsBiz Madness: 2022 Case Study Tournament (Final Four Update)
We continue to be very impressed with the work from our competing students for our sixth annual SportsBiz Madness case study tournament.
In the “Elite Eight” round, students were asked to build a social media campaign in a ticket sales push for their favorite professional sports team. The goal is to increase overall sales, including ticket packages, via social media.
Four teams advanced in the tournament for the chance to be crowned 2022 case study champs. Here is a recap of the elite eight round results and a look at who will be moving on to the Final Four round of the competition.
THE FINAL FOUR:
Pinelands Regional High School, New Jersey
Two-time champion Pinelands Regional advances to the Final Four round aiming for a third Case Study tournament trophy. There were some really creative ideas here from PRHS students that will most certainly help to boost ticket sales for the Rutgers Men’s basketball program through the group’s social media marketing campaign, including a very cool hype video posted across all the program’s social feeds.
All four teams advancing in this tournament did an exceptional job researching user statistics and engagement rates for the most popular social media platforms, and Pinelands Regional students really set the tone. Using that data, students customized advertising messages to promote a variety of ticket packages to fans.
As included in the student’s report:
We chose this platform because 78% of U.S. adults between the ages 18-44 use IG according to Statusbrew. In addition, 90% of its users follow a business profile. Amazingly 83% use the platform to discover new products and services and 87% took a specific action, like making a purchase, after seeing the product information. Some of the content we propose to present with IG includes using promo codes, highlights of the team and players and creating a link in the account bio for ticket purchases through the Rutgers ticket office. In addition, we will use IG stories for live pregame and postgame interviews and highlights.
76% of all adults between the ages of 18-49 use this platform. Research has shown that tweets with hashtags receive 100% more engagement and 50% more for a specific brand. We will include consistent hashtags such as #GardenStatement and #weRback. We will also use this platform for live game updates and stats, along with pre-game and post-game posts. A link in the profile will also be present to purchase tickets through the RU ticket office.
This platform continues to grow because of its entertaining, creative, and trending content. 86% of Tiktok users are in the 18-44 age group. We will use this platform for our hype videos to promote RU and upcoming specific games (we have attached a sample hype video to this presentation). As always, we will include a link to purchase tickets.
REALLY, really well done. Fantastic job Pinelands Regional High!
Flower Mound High School, Texas (MiLB’s Rocket City Trash Pandas)
One of three previous champions to advance (Flower Mound students took first place in the inaugural edition of this competition), Flower Mound High School created a social media ticket sales strategy for Minor League Baseball’s Rocket City Trash Pandas.
One thing that stood out in the case study response from this particular group of students was the specific attention paid to boosting sales of ALL the team’s ticket inventory, including:
- Group tickets
- Season tickets
- Ticket packages (Family Friday’s)
- Theme nights (space night, first responders night, Avengers night, Military Appreciation Day, retro night etc)
- Giveaway promotions (bobbleheads and more)
- Walk-up and game day promotions (Half Price Wednesdays)
- Premium seating packages
Flower Mound students also did a fantastic job researching the demographic usage of each particular social platform, and customizing content (and ticket plans) to cater to each segment of the team’s fan base.
For example, they recognize that Facebook users tend to skew toward an older demographic. As such, they focused on Facebook to market a great cross promotion with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, which also statistically has an older audience, with a package that includes a “Buy a Trash Pandas ticket, receive a voucher for admission to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center” promo.
Overall, a FANTASTIC effort from students at Flower Mound High School!
Downers Grove North High School, Illinois (LA Rams)
An effective social media strategy requires quality content. Students at Downers Grove North offered a variety of great ideas for content, many geared toward helping the Los Angeles Rams to sell more tickets. Some highlights:
- A separate social media account for @RamsHouse (LA’s Hollywood sign was temporarily changed to say “Rams House” after this year’s Super Bowl win
- A SoFi Stadium Tour Video on YouTube and links to the video on the other team’s social platforms to help build excitement and push ticket sales (including season ticket locations ON SALE NOW)
- Posts promotiong a wide range of packages, including season tickets, group tickets, “flex” packages, individual game promos (“meal deals”), promo nights (bobblehead and t-shirt giveaways) and corporate packages
In addition, the group included a lot of great other content and fan engagement strategies, great idea to feature these “experiences” for season ticket holders as a benefit then post to social feeds so non season-ticket holders can see the added value of buying a ticket package.
- Photo with the Lombardi Trophy (Super Bowl trophy which the team won in February)
- Fans will announce the teams draft picks (4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th round) live at the upcoming draft
- Behind-the-scenes tour of Sofi Stadium (home of the Rams and Chargers)
- Opportunities to win prizes like Gatorade towels autographed by the team
We also really like seeing a schedule release post on social media. Every year, teams leverage the anticipation of the upcoming season to build excitement among fans and take advantage of an opportunity to sell ticket packages. Downers Grove North students saw the same opportunity and took advantage. Really well done, and shows these students really have a finger on the pulse of current industry trends. Great job!
Green Run High School, Virginia (Charlotte Hornets)
Defending champions from Green Run High School in Virginia created a campaign for the Charlotte Hornets. The group came up with a variety of great ticket promos, and developed a great strategy for utilizing TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter AND YouTube to market the ticket offers to fans. Green Run students recognize the importance of maximizing sales to help offset revenue losses resulting from fewer fans during the pandemic.
Some highlights including customizing theme nights, then posting special “thank you” messages to those groups on social media, promoting fan experiences like high-fives with the mascot during player intros through family friendly social media channels to reach parents who would enjoy providing opportunities like that for their kids, and communicating special group packages like “birthday bundles” across all the teams social channels.
A solid performance from Green Run High School!
Congrats to those students who advanced to the Final Four round of the competition and good luck!
- SportsBiz Madness: 2022 Case Study Tournament Final Four Results
SportsBiz Madness: 2022 Case Study Tournament (Opening Round Results)
OPENING ROUND RECAP
The opening round results are in for our sixth annual SportsBiz Madness case study tournament. Tasked with building a ticket sales and promotions plan for a Minor League Baseball franchise in Madison, Wisconsin, students came up with a lot of creative ideas. However, the students who will be advancing in this year’s competition did the best job concentrating on ideas for ways to fill the ballpark, recognizing the importance of a sound ticket sales plan to the bottom line of a new minor league franchise. While many teams submitted unique ideas for branding the new team, only a select few focused on ticket sales packages, theme nights, group sales, premium seating and/or creating unique ticket spaces at the ballpark (like hot tub seating or dugout boxes). We also found some of the promotions calendars to be lacking. Minor League sports teams need to consistently offer promotions to incentivize fans to come out to home games, and only offering a handful of promotions during the season isn’t enough. The teams moving on to the Elite Eight round recognized that and submitted ticket and promotions plans accordingly.
Thank you to all the schools who participated. There were a lot of really creative ideas in this opening round of the competition. While only eight teams can advance, you should be proud of the work your students put forth in this tournament.
Here are some highlights from the groups who will be advancing to the “Elite Eight” bracket round of our competition.
Madison Sugar Maples (Pinelands Regional HS, NJ)
Ultimately, the goal of a promotions plan is to draw people to the ballpark. The emphasis is on ticket sales, a vital function for any minor league sports team with aspirations of succeeding financially. No group put together a better ticket sales strategy in this year’s competition than students at Pinelands Regional High School in New Jersey. Many submissions in the first round missed the mark by not establishing season ticket offerings, group ticket sales packages, premium seating options and mini plans. The Sugar Maples front office addressed ALL of those options, including lawn seating, General Admission and special events.
In addition, the Maple Leafs’ promotions plan for the season was fantastic, with a number of on-brand promotions that would most certainly draw crowds in Madison. The team’s promo calendar offered a great mix of community related events (slumber party at the ballpark), causes (“Love a Tree”) and unique (“Hottest Day in History”).
Overall, really good stuff from Pinelands Regional students. Nice job!
Madison Cheeze Curdz (James River HS, Virginia)
Impressive showing from first-time participants in the competition from students at James River High School. Love to see the research into the local “cuisine” to help come up with a team name…area fans I’m sure will love Cheeze Curdz branded merchandise!
Really smart to offer a variety of packages, including full and half season tickets, but the group ticket FLEX package (and including parking) will be a great way to attract fans to the ballpark. Some really good ideas for promotions on the calendar as well. Kid’s night (sponsored) with giveaways, in-game promotions and entertainment will surely be a big hit with families and then appealing to an adult crowd by partnering with local breweries and food trucks (including a t-shirt cannon launching event and team-themed shirts into the crowd) offers a little something for everyone.
We also thought the sponsored Curdz-branded, U.S.A. themed sunglasses giveaway would be a popular promotion with fans on the 4th of July. Last but not least, closing out the season with a Fan Fest event by bringing in legendary Milwaukee Brewers star Robin Yount to throw the first pitch and announce the game (along with other promotions) would be provide an excellent way to finish the year strong and provide momentum heading into the team’s second season (potentially selling season ticket packages along the way).
Great job Cheeze Curdz front office!
Mad City Mastodons (Downers Grove North, Illinois)
Interesting branding concept from students at Downers Grove North, not sure we have seen a “Mastodons” team name in this competition before! A couple of things that stood out in the ticket sales and promotion plan here: 1) Offering both full season and individual game-day promotions 2) Offering some kind of promotion at EVERY home game and 3) Providing fans with a unique seating option like the hot tub seats in the outfield.
As for the season long promotions, we love Friday Night movies after the game in the outfield on the Jumbotron and bratwurst for $2 at every Saturday game. Both are sure to be big draws. As for the game day promos, here were a few favorites:
- National Cheese Day promo – free cheese hat giveway, $2 cheese dogs, specialty cheese related items on the concessions menu like curds, Mac & Cheese and nachos
- Christmas in July promotion
- In alignment with the team’s brand, an “Ice Age” theme night is a great idea, along with a showing of the film on one of the team’s movie nights
Madison Porcupines (Flower Mound High School, Texas)
Some really good ideas from students at Flower Mound High School, surely some promotions that will pack the stadium on game days. Some highlights from the Porcupines ticket sales and promotion plan include:
- Opening Day: First 2,000 fans get a free Porcupines hat and all fans receive a magnet schedule
- College Night: Wear a t-shirt representing your college and receive a free hot dog at the game
- Milwaukee Bucks Night: Nice cross promo, fans buying tickets in the yellow section (these are the most expensive seats on the team’s color coded seating map), receive a ticket to a Milwaukee Bucks game and first 1,500 fans get a co-branded Bucks/Porcupines shirt
- Back to School Night: A kids in attendance receive a free Porcupines backpack
- Porcupines beach ball giveaway: This was one of the more unique giveaways in this year’s competition
Another excellent idea is to offer benefits to season ticketholders. Very few teams touched on this with their plans, so props to the Porcupines’ front office for recognizing the importance of building value for your biggest supporters. Season ticket benefits for Porcupines fans include early admission to the park, exclusive promotional offers, and field access after Sunday home games.
We also love to see create spaces at the stadium, and a sponsored area no less with the Harley-Davidson Deck. Offering rentals of the space on non-game days is a great way to generate incremental income.
Overall, really well done Porcupines front office. Way to go!
Madison Serpents (Green Run High School, Virginia)
One of the things that never ceases to amaze in these competitions is the amount of research students put into learning about the cities they are representing. In this case, students at Green Run managed to uncover something about Madison, Wisconsin (my home town) that I had never heard before. Apparently an urban legend suggest a legendary serpent-like lake monster once lived in the depths of Lake Mendota. Hence, the Madison Serpents. Good stuff!
That said, this case study wasn’t a branding challenge, rather, the focus is creating a promotion and ticket sales plan to fill the stadium. The Serpents’ front office provided plenty of ways to do just that. Some highlights include:
- Unique venues and stadium amenities almost always provide a bump at the box office, and a partnership with Nintendo to design “Maple Stadium” (home to the Serpents) in a way that resembles the Maple Treeway map in Mario Kart will most certainly help to sell tickets!
- Turn Back the Clock promotion with discounted concessions items in honor of the “early days” of baseball
- Some great concessions promotions also designed to draw fans to the ballpark, including a pretzel item shaped like Winnie (the team’s mascot) will certainly be a hit with kiddos coming out to the ballpark
Also, great idea to put an emphasis on premium seating by installing 15 luxury boxes along with featured premium areas like Maple Stadium’s “dugout boxes.”
Great job Green Run High School!
Madison Mountain Gorillas (Grant High School, Oregon)
Lots of great ideas from students at Grant High School for game day promotions at Mountain Gorillas games, many of them very “on brand.” A few highlights include:
- Opening Day: The first 500 fans to show up to our inaugural game get a free banana smoothie
- Deluxe tickets: A promotion where seating in a premium area of the stadium (“Deluxe Tickets”) include all you can eat banana sundaes, access to a rooftop garden and hot tub seats, along with free admission to the stadium’s rock climbing wall for kids
- Farewell Game Jersey Giveway: The final home game of the season will provide fans with a chance to win the team’s star player game-worn jersey
- Monkey Meet and Greet cross promo: Season ticketholders are invited to a meet and greet with monkeys at the local Henry Vilas Zoo (a team sponsor)
- In-game promotion: “Gorilla Tag” which encourages two fans to try to tag someone wearing a gorilla suit
- Select fans have an opportunity to be shuttled to the game via a boat ride to the team’s “Jungle Stadium”
Well done Mountain Gorillas front office!
Lake Mendota Muskies (Downers Grove North, Illinois)
Another group who went “all in” by offering a jam-packed promotions calendar for every home game was the Lake Mendota Muskies’ front office. Students from Downers Grove North were also wise to include season long promotions along with a ton of game day promos along with a commitment to creating flexible ticket sales packages that would appeal to all types of fans. There is no doubt the Muskies will be playing to capacity crowds in their inaugural season.
Here are a few highlights:
- After every shutout win, every fan in attendance gets a coupon for a 5% discount at Bass Pro Shops
- National Donut Day promotion: Muskies branded donuts will appear on the concessions menu in celebration of “National Donut Day”
- After every home run that the team’s star Tim Givens hits, the section where the ball was hit will receive free cheese curds from the concessions menu (great way to add value to the outfield seating sections)
- “Star Wars” Night: Co-branded Star Wars x Muskies jerseys given to the first 2,000 fans in attendance, along with other promotions tied to the Star Wars theme throughout the game
- Any grand slam throughout the season results in every fan in attendance getting a free scoop of ice cream
- “Bucks Night”: For one night, the team will rebrand as the “Lake Mendota Bucks”, a Milwaukee Bucks player or coach will throw out the first pitch, a post-game jersey swap promotion and more
- Paying tribute to one of Madison’s quirky cultural phenomenon, the plastic yard flamingo (also the city’s official bird), the Muskies will host a “Flamingo Night”, with players sporting pink uniforms for the game and fans encouraged to wear pink in a “pink out” to raise breast cancer awareness
Overall, a really well developed ticket sales and promotions plan from the Muskies front office. Nice job Downers Grove North students!
Madison Capitals (D.C. Everest Senior HS, Wisconsin)
As part of the their promotions and ticket sales plan, students from D.C. Everest included a nice mix of in-game promotion, event promotion, and game-day promotion to draw fans to the ballpark for the team’s inaugural season in Madison. Including a featured promotion at every home game will help ticket sales both through ticket packages and walk-up sales on game days. A few notable promotions from the Capitals’ case study response:
- Introducing different theme nights for every home game
- Offering live music performances after every game
- Annual “float” to the stadium (this was a popular promotion theme from many participants in this year’s tournament)
- Food truck options at tailgate areas, including a “Battle of the Food Trucks” promotion
- Fun in-game promotion with a “duck toss” where fans donate $1 to get a rubber duck with a number, between innings they all throw them on the field with the closest to hitting the pitcher’s mound wins a percentage of the donations
Overall, a great response from the Capitals’ front office as D.C. Everest advances as first time participants in this tournament. Nice job!
Here are a few highlights from the “bubble” teams that were so close to advancing but didn’t quite get over the hump.
Wisconsin Muskellunge (Connor, Devin, Michael from Mountain Ridge High School in Arizona)
Newcomers to this competition, students from Mountain Ridge High School offered several interesting promotions ideas. The Muskellunge front office, in particular, had a few of the most creative, including:
- “Elon Muskie Night”: Fans in attendance on June 7th are eligible to participate in a raffle to win stock in Elon Musk’s company, Tesla (the promotion offers a number of ways to get even more creative, including a game day sponsorship)
- “Cutest Pet Night”: A unique spin on the classic “Bark at the Park” promotion that has become a staple at ballparks around the country, Muskellunge fans will have an opportunity to win a $50 Petsmart gift card if their pet is voted the “cutest” of the night
- “World Record First Pitch”: A popular promotions strategy with minor league sports teams, the Muskullenge will open the stadium early to try to break the world record for the highest number of “first pitches” thrown in a day…if successful, any participating fan will be rewarded with 50% off food items at the concessions stand for the next month’s home games
Good stuff from the Muskellunge front office!
Madison Cheeseheads (Matthew and Tom from Tappan Zee High School in New York)
Nobody celebrated more food-themed holidays as part of their promotions plan than the Cheeseheads front office:
- National Mac and Cheese Day, Everyone gets free Mac and Cheese in the stadium
- National Root beer float day, all fans get free root beers at any concession stand
- National Potato day, all fans get 1 free fries basket and free potatoes at any concession stand
And check out this mascot!
Wisconsin Muskies (Jordyyn, Caila, Jayden, Dawson & Cameron from MVCTC in Ohio)
Students from Miami Valley Career Tech Center in Ohio offered one of the most unique in-game promotions in this tournament with the “baseball shuffle.”
As described in the team’s case study response: “There are 3 hats. One baseball will be placed under one of the three hats. The hats will then shuffle around for three rounds. After each round, the hat with the ball will rise and the screen will reveal which hat the ball was under. Then the hats will re-shuffle. There will be no winner, this is simply just a way to have interaction within the audience.”
Good stuff from the Muskies front office!
Madison Cheese Wheels (Sam, Braeden, Dom, Lucas, Ian from MVTC in Ohio)
One of the best demonstrations of a targeted promotion came from the “Cheese Wheels” front office and a group of students from Miami Valley Career Tech Center in Ohio with “Adults Only Night” at the ballpark. The team also partnered with Tipsy Cow, a local X, and Lyft, to make the event both fun and safe.
As described in the team’s case study response: “This night is all about the adults and baseball. Adults can come and try wines and beers from all over the world, all while we are having a deal with Lyft to make sure that no one is driving home under the influence of alcohol.”
Another great promotion idea was “Around the Wheel” Night (the stadium is known as the “wheel”), sponsored by a local brewery and Wisconsin Cheese Mart, where “the night is a chance for everyone to try all different types of cheese along with having a craft beer service come in with samples of beer that is made locally.” Very cool idea to support local businesses and build a brand that establishes roots throughout the community.
Nice job Cheese Wheels front office!
Madison Pikes (Kellam High School Virginia)
Several groups were smart to submit seating charts aligned with ticket prices, like this one from students at Kellam High School in Virginia. Great idea to add “The Lake” seating area with an emphasis on promoting group ticket sales. That section of the stadium is sure to be a hit on game days!
The Pikes’ front office also clearly did their research, serving up some of the most promotional promotional events at Minor League Baseball stadiums around the country like:
- 4th of July Fireworks
- Mother’s Day Game
- Bring Your Dog to the Park Day
- Back to School Night
- Jumping on the Star Wars promotion craze for a “May the 4th Be With You” promotion on May 4th, giving out bobbleheads to the first 1,000 fans and outfitting players in Star Wars-themed uniforms
In addition, Kellam HS students were one of two groups to offer a “turn back the clock” promotion, with the Pikes selling concession items for just 50 cents. Great job Pikes front office!
SCC’S 2022 SPORTSBIZ MADNESS TOURNAMENT BRACKET
The eight teams advancing in the tournament will compete in a head to head style format for the opportunity to be crowned champs of the 2022 case study tournament. Teams were not seeded, the bracket pairings are drawn at random. Good luck to our participating students in the “Elite Eight” round!