SportsBiz Madness 2021: Case Study Tournament (Opening Round Results)

OPENING ROUND RECAP

We were extremely impressed with the opening round results for our fifth annual SportsBiz Madness case study tournament.  Tasked with rebranding a Minor League Baseball franchise with a long history of sellouts and financial success (and fan support) but with a controversial team nickname.  Students put a lot of research into establishing a new brand that would connect with the community, generating support with an already loyal fan base.  Overall, this was the most competitive opening round field in the history of this tournament!

HONORABLE MENTION:

Selecting just eight groups from all of this year’s entries to advance to the bracket round of the competition was incredibly difficult.  Here are a few highlights from the “bubble” teams that were so close to advancing but didn’t quite get over the hump. 

Indianapolis Speedsters (Tappan Zee High School, New York)

What stood out with the Tappan Zee group’s “Speedsters” rebrand was the attention to detail in the branding effort itself.  Not only did they create a new brand identity for the franchise, but also offered a strategy for building brand awareness and maximizing opportunities to sell Speedsters branded merchandise.  Placing the new logo on a race car for the Indy 500 would most certainly attract some attention, and keeping a model of that car in front of the stadium would result in thousands of selfies on game day.  Also loved some of the promotions ideas to extend the branding.  Fantastic job Tappan Zee High School!

Indianapolis Woodrats (Grant High School, Oregon)

As they say, you learn something new every day! Thanks to the research done by Grant High School students, we know a species known as the “Allegheny Woodrats” are commonly found in the state of Indiana. Grant HS students rebranded as the ‘Woodrats’, in part, because the species is experiencing a decline in population, even facing extinction in some areas outside of Indianapolis, and the franchise would bring awareness to the threat. Pretty cool idea. Love the face mask idea (interesting to see at least HALF the entries in round one featured face masks as part of the merchandise collections), thought with the logo that there could be some really fun and and creative ways to design Woodrats branded face coverings that would be a hit with fans. Nice job Grant High School!

Indianapolis Slicers (Capital High School, Washington)

It is always interesting to see what students find when doing some research in our competitions. Case in point, a group of students from Capital HS in Washington who discovered that the first sliced bread company, Wonder Bread, was established in the city of Indianapolis.  Rebranding as the “Slicers” creates a connection to the city’s history and will no doubt offer some very fun and unique opportunities for creative brand extensions, including on the concessions menu at the ballpark and will no doubt help position the team as an innovative franchise.  As the Slicers’ reminded us in their case study response, “without sliced bread you can’t have things like sandwiches or toast.”  Nice job Capital High School!

Indianapolis Veterans (Green Run High School, Virginia)

Some good ideas here from students at Green Run, really liked the rebranding strategy paying tribute to veterans, and this group did an excellent job weaving together several themes that will create a connection with community. 

Perhaps best summed up by the explanation behind the new logo:  “The flags of Indianapolis and the U.S.A. for Veterans and for connection to winning and the checkered flag. Baseball bats and baseball for the sport in the shape of a V for Victory in wars and on the field. It also connects to Victory Stadium.”

Also, how great is this Corvette themed (aptly named “Vet”) mascot? Impressive work from Green Run High School!

Indianapolis Speed Demons (Superior High School, Wisconsin)

There were a lot of really great rebranding strategies tied to the theme of racing, understandably, given the area’s motor sports heritage.  We liked the way Superior HS students managed to incorporate the type of branding and imagery consistent with sports teams (like a “demon”) with a racing theme (like “speed”).  Clever name, cool logo and fun mascot.  Overall, really nice job by Superior High School!

Indianapolis Cardinals (Wichita East High School, Kansas)

Because both the state animal AND state bird is the Cardinal, students from Wichita East High School opted to rebrand the franchise as the Cardinals.  The franchise hopes to gain support of fans throughout the entire state rather than just the Indianapolis area, expanding the brand’s footprint. Traditionally, that can be a real challenge for a minor league franchise but appreciate seeing students “thinking big” in this competition.   

ADVANCING TO THE BRACKET ROUND OF THE COMPETITION:

Indianapolis Speedsters (Carle Place High School, New York)

Important to develop a brand that will resonate with your target audience, so it was great to see a family-friendly vibe with the Speedsters brand development strategy as a way to appeal to a minor league baseball fan base.  Fantastic promotion idea as well to maintain a loyal following by offering discounts on the NEW merchandise to any fans that have gear featuring the former team name. Nice job Carle Place HS students!

Indianapolis Baby Blues (Pinelands Regional High School, New Jersey)

Defending case study tournament champs Pinelands Regional is no stranger to this competition, and if the response to the first case study challenge is any indication, they are ready to bring it again this year!

By the looks of the description of the new nickname (Baby Blues), it would appear PRHS students did some serious research. The rebrand offers a nod to the history of the franchise, with a fresh new look.

Overall, lots of great branding ideas and we loved the uniforms too! Another brilliant effort from Pinelands Regional HS…

Indianapolis Gearheads (Green Run High School, Virginia)

Another newcomer to this year’s competition, another fantastic case study response. Impressive work from Green Run High School with the development of the rebranding effort and crafting a very unique new nickname.

REALLY loved seeing this group of students relying on data from some market research to help shape not only the rebranding strategy, but also the merchandising plan. After identifying 57 year-old-olds as the average age of fans, it makes sense to offer merchandise that would appeal to that demographic. Great idea to partner with a popular local vendor with Hubbard and Craven (nice job researching that!) to give sales of team-branded merchandise an added lifted, expanding your distribution beyond the ballpark and team store online. Great to see a focus on figuring out ways to increase revenue.

Overall, the attention to detail was very impressive, from the colorways and design scheme for the brand, the logo, the mascot and merchandise. Well done!

Indianapolis Bones (Grant High School, Oregon)

So much to love here. The research in determining a new nickname. The creativity behind some of the merchandise the franchise will offer its fans (LOVING the “T-Rex Teeth” face coverings and “Bone Bat” replicas that the mascot, Buddy, carries around at games), and the unique brand partnerships. Grant High School students rocked this first case study, very impressive!

Indianapolis Centurions (Flower Mound High School, Texas)

From a merchandising perspective, the Centurions branding strategy really stood out from the rest. LOVE the brand extensions throughout the stadium, no doubt helping to boost sales of everything from food and beverage to tickets and merchandise. Given the family friendly nature of minor league baseball, the creative branding around the stadium to give it a theme park feel will most certainly draw a crowd and make it easy to transition from the old team name to the Centurions. Great idea to offer a secondary logo as well. Lots of excellent ideas here from students at Flower Mound High School!

Indy Stretch (Downers Grove North, Illinois)

So we saved the most unique rebrands for last…beginning with the “Indy Stretch”, imagined by students from Downers Grove North in Illinois. The clever nickname is tied to the city’s roots in many ways, as described by Downers Grove North students: “The new nickname, the Indy Stretch, has multiple tie-ins to the history of Indianapolis, and nods to many things that Hoosiers are proud of.

  • Stretch pays homage to the legendary motor racing scene in Indianapolis, and was derived from the “Homestretch” of a racetrack
  • Stretch also honors Indianapolis native Albert von Tilzer, writer of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, an American ballad most commonly associated with the seventh inning stretch of a baseball game
  • Stretch, in addition to the homestretch of a race track and the 7th inning stretch of a baseball game, also refers to the role that the state of Indiana played during the Underground Railroad, as it was the homestretch in the path to freedom for escaped slaves venturing north.

The group also came up with a pretty cool way to raise brand awareness through cross promotion by partnering with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to play a weekend series, the “Crossroads Classic”, on the infield at the iconic motor sports venue, including specially checkered flag branded promotional uniforms. Awesome.

But what’s up with the Giraffe? According to the students, the mascot “Armstrong the Giraffe” was born in partnership with the Indianapolis City Zoo, as well as one with Hasbro, and the team will create custom “Stretch Armstrong” dolls modeled after Armstrong to boost merchandise sales with bobbleheads as game day giveaways to boost attendance. Such great ideas…congrats Downers Grove North, you’re moving on to the bracket round!

Indianapolis Tenderloins (Ellicottville Central School, New York)

One of the most popular marketing trends in Minor League Baseball in recent memory features teams rebranding with food themes.  One student from Ellicottville HS in New York tapped into that strategy and introduced a food-themed rebrand of their own, introducing the Indianapolis Tenderloins. Whacky as it may seem, we think this could really work.

One of the most iconic dishes that hails from Hoosier State is the pork tenderloin sandwich, a dishly that is uniquely representative of the area. Fun and whimsical, the branding will certain resonate with fans of all ages, and opportunities to extend the brand at the concessions stand could give food and beverage sales a nice boost. Nice job Ellicottville High School!

Indianapolis Walruses (Fruitport High School, Michigan)

The Walruses? According to Fruitport High School students, the new nickname is based on the important role the Indianapolis Zoo plays as a fabric of the Indianapolis community. At the Indianapolis Zoo, they take the time and consideration of protecting and rehabilitating walruses as well as many other animals.

Because minor league baseball is such a family oriented entertainment platform, the branding (including the colorways, logo and mascot, “Whilbert the Walrus”) will certainly create a connection with the community and attract area families to the ballpark.

SCC’S 2021 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 2021 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!