SportsBiz Madness: Case Study Competition

Opening Round Recap

We received 72 entries from student “teams” participating in our inaugural case study competition and couldn’t be more impressed with the submissions.  Tasked with the development of a promotions plan that would help a new minor league baseball franchise based in Madison, Wisconsin reach a goal of 85% stadium capacity for the season, the student response was incredibly impressive.  Students demonstrated a clear understanding of the important role ticket sales play in the financial viability of a minor league franchise, and how promotion and fan experience impact the team’s ability to sell.

We had a number student teams that submitted particularly impressive responses to the first case study.  Unfortunately, only eight could be selected to advance to our “elite eight” round of the competition where the tournament shifts to a “head to head” format.  Of course, selecting just eight teams from our pool of entries was extremely difficult.  It was very evident that students put forth a lot of effort in creating their responses to the first case study, including a lot of background research on the Madison market, including local businesses and city/community traditions and history.  For example, a number of teams named their franchise the “Madison Flamingos”, a reference to Madison’s “official city bird”, the yard flamingo.  I grew up in Madison and didn’t even know that!  We also saw a number of teams incorporating either cheese, cows, capitals (Madison is the capital city of Wisconsin) or popular area lake fish (Walleye, Pike, Muskies and Sturgeon) into team names, further demonstrating that the students did their homework on the Madison area.

As we evaluated each entry, it was fun to see the creativity behind all of the ideas for promotions, but ultimately we had to select the entries that best met the criteria established in the assigned case study.  One of the most critical elements (in addition to offering creative and unique promotion ideas) was to provide a clear strategic plan for how promotions would help the franchise bottom line, specifically by meeting attendance goals.  Those who communicated the best and most viable strategies were the teams selected to advance to the “Elite Eight” round.

However, we did want to acknowledge a few teams that were on the outside looking in.  We referred to that group of entries as our “Sweet Sixteen”.  Eight of the “Sweet Sixteen” teams were so close to moving on in the competition to the next round that we felt they deserved some recognition.

As we look ahead, eight teams will compete head to head for the chance to advance to the SportsBiz Madness Final Four.  The teams were not seeded.  Names were drawn from a hat and added to the bracket accordingly.  We can’t wait to see what the students come up with as a response to the next case study as they are asked to create a fan engagement strategy for a college basketball program during the offseason…

SWEET SIXTEEN

* Our “Sweet Sixteen” teams did a fantastic job and submitted very impressive responses to the first case study, but unfortunately will not advance in this competition.  They all, however, deserve a standing ovation for their efforts!

“Madison Mad Pike” – Indian River High School (New York):

Nice job implementing pre-season promos to build excitement leading up to the season, not many other teams introduced a similar strategy.  Also really liked the tax day promotion offering 15% off season tickets through April 15…A number of pro sports teams offer similar promotional ideas, encouraging fans to spend their refund money on tickets and team gear.  Great ideas!

“Madison Copper Drones” – Kent CTC (Michigan):

One of our favorite logos submitted in this competition, good stuff.  Also, appreciated the brand extension by naming your stadium “The Hive”, however, we would have liked to see some “themed” promos to extend the brand even further…Interesting idea to stage promotions that coincide with popular movie releases like Pirates: Dead Men Tell No Tales in May and Transformers movie in July. Overall, really nice job.

“Mendota Muskies” – Kent CTC (Michigan):

Nice job building a differentiation strategy by recognizing what sets the minor league product apart from major league sports.  Also, being aware of the role fan experience has on the success of a minor league sports team is critical to any front office staff…glad you mentioned that in your promotions overview.  Great job!

“Wisconsin Walleye” – Fruitport High School (Michigan):

Great job identifying a local company for your stadium naming rights partnership (Sargento Stadium).  We enjoyed the logo as well, although the mascot seemed a bit “fishy”…lol.  Fun idea to extend the brand with the “Fisherman Day” themed promotion as well.  Nice work!

“Madison Capitals” – Pine Island High School (Minnesota):

Nice job researching other Minor League Baseball team names to insure the name of your franchise would be unique…Overall, a really impressive list of diverse promotions that will appeal to a wide variety of fans.  Glad to see the recognition of the importance of the fan experience as well, that will go a long way in not only drawing fans to the ballpark but also making sure they return for more games.  Featuring a link to your franchise website was a nice touch as well.  Good work.

“Madison Butter Churners” – Merrimack High School (New Hampshire):

Very few teams in this competition offered full season promotions so you definitely scored some points there…the creativity, however, behind your swiss cheese promotion is what helped propel your promotions plan into the “sweet sixteen” round of the tournament. 

We loved your idea: “Above the center field back wall there is going to be a huge statue of Swiss cheese. If a player on the Butter Churners hits the ball through one of the holes in the cheese, five random seats will be chosen and gets a ball signed by all of the players at SWISS CHEESE STADIUM.”  Super creative and fun!

“Madison Pumas” – Little Elm High School (Texas):

Great strategy to leverage social media in a way that builds excitement and enthusiasm around the team in an effort to maximize ticket sales.  Also, great plan on working with local youth baseball programs…fantastic way to get fans to games.  Nice work!

“Dane County Rhythm & Booms” – Arlington High School (New York):

Excellent work developing a brand rooted in community pride…that strategy will most certainly help lure more fans to the ballpark.  In addition to some fun theme night ideas, we really liked the development of ticket packages that included premium seating options (and the value you added for those seat buyers).  Fantastic job!

ADVANCING TO THE “ELITE EIGHT”:

“Madison Milkers” – Pine Island HS (Minnesota):

You offered our favorite description of a promotional strategy: “Some baseball games can seem to be just dreadful to a fan who does not find complete merriment in the sport of baseball. That is why one of our main purposes of this franchise is to cultivate a pastime that anyone can enjoy.”  Loved it! 

Really nice job recognizing the importance of catering to non-baseball fans to help reach a larger audience, that will definitely help you to sell more tickets.  Positioning your franchise as “family friendly” is a great way to do that as well.  Loved the slogan too.  “Madison Milkers: “Come watch us, anyone can have an utterly grand time!” and your promotions list featured some really great ideas.  Really impressive!

“Lake Mendota Sturgeons” – Westosha Central High School (Wisconsin):

Really nice job tying your primary sponsor (local business, well done) to some of your promotions…adds value for both sponsor and fan.  Great idea to build promotions that encourage fans to arrive early, helping boost your concessions and merchandise revenue in addition to selling more tickets.  Well done.

“Midwest Badgers” – Memorial High School (Wisconsin):

Opening with a “market summary” really demonstrated how thorough the thought process was in creating a promotions plan for the Badgers franchise.  The addition of a communications plan also suggests your message will maximize its reach, ultimately helping to boost ticket sales.  Getting your team schedules and magnets in local restaurants will most certainly increase fan awareness, a critical step in reaching fans in a team’s first season within a market.  Fun ideas for promotions as well…nice work.

“Madison Muskies” – Flower Mound High School (Texas):

Excellent job creating seamless integration between sponsors and team promotions…We think Culver’s will be very pleased with the results of their partnership with the Muskies.  Also, great idea to offer seating options at every price level, catering to fans on a budget and corporate customers with the premium options.  An “all you can eat” section in the outfield is a super idea that provides a promotional opportunity all season long.  Loved the logo too! 

“Madison Frosty Pikes” – Wichita East HS (Kansas):

Interesting name, certainly unique but explanation makes sense…Fantastic job developing promotions plan that “covers all the bases”, from themed promos like heritage and social media nights to promos that engage fans like “baseball bingo”, your franchise will have the ability to target any demographic and encourage them to come out to the ballpark.  Also, we’d really like to try that “Mac-n-Cheese Pizza” specialty concession item (but think you could get away with charging more than a buck a slice)!  Excellent work!

“Madison Flamingos” – Kent CTC (Michigan):

A lot of teams in this competition included promotions featuring free tickets…however, you were the only ones who explained how that will help the franchise reach its goal of 85% capacity in the inaugural season.  Pairing a free ticket with a promotion that requires others in the group to purchase a seat is one of the most effective ticket sales techniques in sports business.  Excellent job recognizing that.  In addition, love the idea of some branded concessions offerings “Flamingo Strawberry Shakes” and leveraging pop culture themes like “National Tooth Fairy Day” to help draw fans to the ballpark.  Nice job going the extra mile to do some price comparison to determine your ticket rates as well.  Really good stuff!

“Madison Lake Monsters” – Merrimack High School (New Hampshire):

Your presentation style for this competition was totally unique.  Great job “selling” the fun behind the promotions…you had us wanting to visit your team website and buy season tickets!  You also hit on every aspect of the fan experience that would encourage fans to come out to the ballpark: in-game promotions between innings, an active mascot, enticing concessions options, convenient transportation and parking…you had it all.  Great job instilling a sense of community as well, your “outstanding citizen” promotion was one of our favorites and having local youth teams play on the field before or after games is a very popular promotion with almost all professional sports teams.  Fantastic job!

“Madison Pink Flamingos” – Fruitport High School (Michigan):

We loved how your team suggested it would make it a priority for all staff including front office and team personnel (“as a united front” in your words) to be actively engaged in the sales process in an effort to reach organizational goals.  No other team in this competition deployed that strategy, which just so happens to be one of the most important characteristics of a successful sports team.  Promotions list was also on point…you provided a great breakdown with a lot of good ideas.  Brilliant job!

Best of luck to our “Elite Eight” teams as we move into the head to head stage of the competition!