SportsBiz Madness: 2021 Case Study Tournament (Final Four Edition)

We continue to be very impressed with the work from our competing students for our fifth 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 effort all eight remaining teams put forth was evident, and selecting which schools would advance was very tough.

Unfortunately, just four teams will move on in the tournament for the chance to be crowned 2021 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!

HONORABLE MENTION:

Carle Place High School, New York

Students at Carle Place HS chose to create a social media ticket marketing strategy for the San Diego Padres. Some really cool ideas here from a content perspective. In particular, the utilizing the story feature on Instagram to host fan votes like what event will happen first in today’s game, a Tatis home run or a Snell strikeout. That’s a great way to keep fans engaged. “Favorite moments” in a bracket style fan vote is a fun idea as well, and perhaps there could even be some interesting opportunity to monetize some of those moments to help the club generate some revenue. Great job Carle Place High!

Flower Mound High School, Texas

Perhaps not surprisingly, Flower Mound students chose to develop a social sales plan for the Dallas Cowboys. One idea that really stood out was the inclusion of “experiences” with certain ticket packages. These experience packages would be promoted on Facebook and would command a higher price point. Featured experiences featured as part of Flower Mound’s “interactive” ticket packages would include things like access for fans to an exclusive tailgate outside the stadium, reservations at the iconic restaurant that the Cowboys players run through before games, and opportunities to watch pre-game on the sidelines for an up-close experience with the players. Excellent job by Flower Mound students as well from a research perspective, determining which social media platform would be most appropriate for the different types of ticket packages they plan to offer. Outstanding effort from FMHS!

Fruitport High School, Michigan

Fruitport High School students created a social sales plan for the Detroit Tigers. They did a nice job identifying which social platforms would be most effective in reaching their target audience, and building ticket promotions accordingly. Love the idea of tapping into the concept of fandom and creating a “superfan” promotion. From the Fruitport student report: “The Superfan Contest:  Like, Post, Share and Win!: Win a Superfan merchandise pack that includes  Detroit Tiger merchandise (t-shirt, drawstring bag, masks, water bottle, lanyard) and 20% off a Detroit Tigers baseball game ticket. Spectators will participate on social media and post their Superfan Selfies on Instagram with the hashtag “#TigerSuperfan.” Really nice job Fruitport High School!

Ellicottville Central, New York

Students at Ellicottville Central School chose to build a social media ticket sales plan for the Buffalo Bills. It was clear that these students did a lot of research re: covid protocols (which was one of the requirements for this case study), and determined a ticket sales strategy accordingly. Given the limitations with fewer fans being allowed to attend games, there were some great ideas here…it really shows how in tune Ellicottville students are with what teams have actually had to manage throughout this pandemic from a ticketing perspective. For example, providing tickets to healthcare workers was something a lot of teams did this year, including at the Super Bowl. Promoting everything through social media was well executed. Nice job Ellicottville Central!

THE FINAL FOUR:

Pinelands Regional High School, New Jersey

Two-time champion Pinelands Regional just continues to bring it in this competition. Some REALLY good ideas here from PRHS students to help boost ticket sales for the Tampa Bay Rays with a social media marketing campaign, along with a great plan for fan safety in addressing how the team will handle covid protocols.

Some highlights from PRHS fan safety plan:

  • Implementation of staggered seating pods on game days to ensure fans are social distancing
  • Fans and stadium workers will be required to wear face coverings to enter the stadium, and temperature checks for fans as they enter using special thermal cameras and sensors
  • Contactless stadium entry, cashless concessions & team shops
  • Customers will need to use credit or debit cards or cash apps (those patrons without access to those options will be directed to kiosks that allow cash to be converted into preloaded “RAYS PAYS” card)
  • QR codes be placed on the seat backs throughout the stadium so that fans can access concession menus and gift shop items, pay for their purchases at their seat and then have food runners bring the items to the patrons. This will help keep people socially distant and limit people gathering on lines and wandering around the concourse.

Some highlights from PRHS ticket marketing plan:

  • Via social media, offering live streams, behind the scenes looks and Q&A sessions with Rays players and staff with ticket sales promotions being offered during these sessions
  • “Inside Pitch” program exclusively for fans who buy a full or half season ticket package which includes monthly exclusive live stream Q&A sessions, with Rays’ General Manager
  • Ramping up a content strategy to feature one of the team’s most popular players, Ji-Man-Choi, and the team mascot to keep fans engaged and aware of game day promotions and “shoppable” opportunities to purchase tickets at a discount through social media platforms

Also, great idea to connect the promotions strategy to sponsors, recognizing the importance of generating revenue with fewer fans at the stadium during a pandemic year. Recognizing the impact the pandemic would have on ticket renewals was next-level thinking, appreciated seeing a plan in place for addressing that concern as well.

Once again, an amazing job by Pinelands Regional High School!

Green Run High School, Virginia

One of two “rookies” in this year’s competition to advance to the Final Four, Green Run HS students chose to develop a social sales plan for the Washington Nationals. Just as Major League Baseball officials navigate the pandemic and its impact on attendance, Green Run students were required to face the same challenge with this case study. GRHS stepped up with a masterful plan for creating the best possible experience at the park while maximizing revenue through ticket sales.

The key to the success of Green Run’s plan? Consistency. Regular posts featuring engaging content. A Snapchat post on every single game day featuring whatever promotion they were running. A TikTok challenge to start the season, starring one of the team’s best and most popular players. Game day tweets encouraging fans to post their favorite plays from the day’s action with offers for discounts on tickets to an upcoming game for the best tweets. All excellent ways to not only engage the fan base but also to increase ticket sales.

Some great promotion ideas here too! A few favorites:

  • THE VAC PACK: The Washington Nationals want to encourage all members of our community to get vaccinated against COVID 19. Season ticket holders : Show a vaccination card and receive 1 Free ticket for a friend to use at any home game this season.Though 1 is FREE, it encourages another game to come to and bringing more people.
  • The “You’re vOUTcher!” Meal Plan:This plan allows you to sit together with your family and all family members(up to 5) will receive a free meal “vOUTcher”.
  • Fans will have the opportunity for unique fan experiences and access to limited edition items. Fans who purchase season tickets, or  22,42, or 82 classic ticket plans and group sale tickets will get a VIP exclusive deal. They will be able to access a VIP area in the Clubhouse Team Store to shop and purchase exclusive souvenirs not sold anywhere else.
  • Mask giveaway: Team-branded masks will be given out to the first 2500 fans entering the game. Fans can follow us on twitter to view the mask for each home game.There will be daily tweets promoting the importance of public mask wearing, social distancing and regular handwashing. 
  • NATScination baseball card promotion involves our free vaccination pop up event at 1 designated game. Fans can show a vaccination card and get an exclusive signed baseball card. Fans can visit the NATScination tent up to 2 hours prior to game time. The first 3,000 fans showing their vaccination card will gain free entrance for the game. For all future games, fans who are NATScinated can use a special line for earlier entry into the games by showing their NATScination card along with their purchased ticket.

Fantastic job Green Run High School, really loved the creativity!

Grant High School, Oregon

The other “rookie” in this year’s competition is Grant High School who created a social ticket sales strategy for the Portland Trail Blazers. Grant High School students did an excellent job weaving promotions and ticket sales efforts with fan safety and covid protocols in a fun yet effective manner. Because the team is limited to just 25% of capacity at the stadium, GHS students built the entire campaign around that theme. A couple of highlights:

  • Playing off of the theme of 25% Capacity and 25% Off tickets, fans who buy tickets with a special social media link to purchase game tickets will be entered into a raffle with a chance to win a #25 classic Jerome Kersey jersey (one of the most popular players in franchise history).
  • The “social distancing special” campaign on the team’s Instagram and Twitter feeds promotes social distancing, but ties in with a ticket sales effort by asking fans to post a photo on their social feeds and tag the team anytime a Blazers play crosses up a defender. Fans who post and tag as part of the promotion are then eligible for a 25% discount on tickets.

Overall, great ideas from Grant High School. Really well done!

Downers Grove High School, Illinois

Students at Downers Grove High School chose the Chicago White Sox for this case study. Their social sales plan was LOADED with creative ideas and sound strategies for boosting sales, all while keeping fans safe during the ongoing pandemic.

One thing that really stood out in the DGNHS campaign was the team’s effort to market to a younger audience, something MLB teams have been struggling with in recent years. DGNHS students chose to embrace personality, promoting things like bat flips and on-field celebrations. The social media strategy aligns well with the target audience, as does the campaign slogans of “The Time Is Now” and “Change the Game.” Students chose to really push “The Time Is Now” narrative to encourage fans not to wait before purchasing their ticket packages for the year. Very smart! “The Time Is Now” will also serve the franchise well as a rallying cry for the team’s social justice plan with a social media campaign “The Time Is Now For Equality.”

Overall, fantastic job breaking down what content will be shared through each platform to maximize reach and fan engagement. Perhaps the most unique idea in this round of the competition, however, was the inclusion of Spotify as part of the campaign. Using Spotify to bring “Sounds of the Stadium” to the homes of fans is a really fun idea, and connecting the platform to game day walk-up music could be a great way to engage fans. Tying those in with game day ticket sales promotions could help to give sales a boost.

Loved the Twitter MEMES, TikToks and YouTube content as well. Stoking the flames in the Cubs’ rivalry will certainly boost levels of fan engagement. Pairing a ticket to the Cubs’ series with another game that would typically be harder to sell could be a strategy that pays off as well. Also, NEXT LEVEL stuff from DGNHS students to have actual, real-life posts for all your social platforms…clearly students put a lot of time and effort into this case study!

Overall, a very comprehensive plan…super impressive work from Downers Grove North High School!

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