SportsBiz Madness 2023: Case Study Tournament (Opening Round Results)
OPENING ROUND RECAP
Thank you to all the schools that participated. There were a lot of 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.
The opening round results are in for our seventh 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 and focused on things like logos and promotional materials, 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 barstool seating in a private area down the third base line) while also addressing ways for the franchise to maximize revenue through sponsorship. At the end of the day, Minor League sports teams need to consistently offer promotions to incentivize fans to come out to home games as they rely primarily on ticket sales for revenue. The teams moving on to the Elite Eight round recognized that and submitted a case study response in round one accordingly.
Here are some highlights from the groups who will be advancing to the “Elite Eight” bracket round of our competition.
Madison Mighty Mammoths (North Royalton High School, Ohio)
Ultimately, the goal of a promotions plan is to draw people to the ballpark. The emphasis is on ticket sales, which must be the priority for any minor league sports team with aspirations of succeeding financially. North Royalton students put an emphasis on creating promotions that would attract fans to the ballpark, including group packages, meal deals (Like Mighty Mammoths “Family Sundays” meal deal packages on home games played on Sundays), and theme nights (“Mammoth Movie Nights” and Heritage nights).
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 Mighty Mammoths’ front office addressed ALL of those options, including the addition of ticket inventory with lawn seating, which is almost always a popular seating area at Minor League Baseball ballparks around the country.
Congratulations North Royalton High School! You are moving on in the competition!
Madison City Madgers (Green Run High School, Virginia)
Before highlighting some of the great features from the Madgers’ response to the first case in this year’s competition, here is an explanation on the team name: “The name came from Wisconsin’s state animal, the badger, combined with the city of Madison (often referred to as Mad City).” And now you know.
Perhaps the most thorough and comprehensive submission in this round, Green Run students give Madison area sports fans lots of reasons to come out to the ballpark, including a variety of concessions and merchandise offers, along with a focus on fan experience, but maintain a priority on establishing ticket and sponsorship programs that will maximize revenue for the franchise. With a loaded promotions calendar, including a unique promotion called “Be Your Own Barbie Night”, the Madgers were one of the few teams to recognize how valuable star players and rivalries can be, and incorporating promotions to capitalize on those assets to help sell tickets.
Madison Hodags (Tappan Zee High School, New York)
The Hodags (another unique choice for a team name) offered a LOT of statistical data to support the team’s ticket strategies, an indication of the significant time and research this student from Tappan Zee High School put into this case study response. For example, the Hodags report that “Most themed nights will feature a giveaway: 3 in 4 sports fans expect a promotional item, such as a bobblehead, if they attend a sporting event that incorporates a theme. The majority of the event dates fall on weekends. Without having to worry about school for kids, people would be more likely to go to a game with their children especially on a weekend. Weekday games are almost always less popular than weekend games. For the Pop Culture themed nights, fans of both that pop culture would also be inclined to buy tickets to the game along with fans of the MiLB. For the Admirals themed night, Ice Hockey is very popular in Midwestern states, especially Wisconsin. Promoting a fellow minor league team like the AHL would bring in additional revenue from Admirals fans along with the already MiLB fanbase attending games.”
Using the research as a guide, the Hodags theme night ticket strategy leaned heavily on giveaways, while the team also planned a cross promotion with the local minor league hockey. The team also did a nice job offering a variety of ticket options and inventory, along with lots of corporate support for the team (stadium naming rights were sold to Northwestern Mutual Company, who in 2021, was the leading publicly traded company with headquarters in Wisconsin with revenue of 33.8 billion dollars).
It was smart to invest attention in theme nights (with data to support the decision) as they are critical to the ticket sales function and a big reason why fans attend sporting events.
Overall, really well done with an attention to detail that was second to none in this round of the competition.
Mad City Monkeys (Downers Grove North High School, Illinois)
Downers Grove North students, the defending SportsBiz Madness Case Study Tournament champions, offered a really nice mix of game day promotions, season long promotions, and anything else they could do to help sell tickets. They also did a great job making a connection between all the elements of game day entertainment and fan experience and bringing new fans to the ballpark, then making sure they enjoy the game so much that they want to come back, replicating the successful model created by an actual MiLB franchise, the Savannah Bananas.
They were also smart to focus on the value-add to make tickets affordable with discounts and giveaways:
They also did great research on local businesses and they are right, Epic Field (naming rights to, Epic, a local software company) would be the most epic place to watch a game. Clever, but nice job identifying a corporate partner who can help maximize revenue through sponsorship.
Last but not least, the Monkeys’ offer fans with some creative inventory, and creating a “party deck” experience is a trend all over sports to help bring more fans to stadiums and ballparks, along with adding a picnic patio, dugout box, infield box, and field box.
Madison Moose (Deep Run High School, Virginia)
Rather than focusing on small groups of 10-20 fans, the Moose did a really nice job finding ways to incentivize large groups to come out to the ballpark. For example, the team introduced a fundraiser program. When 50 more students from selected schools attend a game, $500 will be donated to their school and their teacher will receive free season tickets. While I think the math might need to be tweaked for the promotion to be profitable, the concept is spot-on and one that is used by nearly every professional sports team in the industry. Other promotions were designed specifically with selling tickets in mind, like “Summer Camp” on June 9th, the end of the school year in the Madison area. All kids attending the “Summer Camp” game receive 50% of game tickets.
The Mammoth featured other promotions with discounts and ways to add value, and also created multiple promotions tied to the team’s rising star, Jack Freeman.
Nice job Madison Moose, we will see you in the Elite 8!
Madison Mendotas (Miami Valley Career Tech Center, Ohio)
The Mendotas also planned to create an incentive for larger groups, which provides an excellent demonstration of understanding how group ticket pricing and group sales works. Teams cannot rely on season ticket sales and day of game purchases to fill the ballpark, so theme nights and groups are key. The Mendotas’ ticket strategy featured a nice mix of theme nights (Moms Rule the Diamond and Salute to Service), groups, and giveaways. In addition, the Mendotas recognized the importance of adding value to premium seating options along with luxury suites with the inclusion of amenities like personalized service and catering opportunities, which will be important to corporate clients.
This group of MVTC students also put forth some effort to learn about local businesses, and that shows with the team’s sponsors, with local businesses like Lake Ridge Bank, Ale Asylum, Zimbrick, Anytime Fitness, and SSM Health signing on as Mendotas sponsors for the season.
Last but not least, this group did a great job establishing ticket price: The pricing for each ticket category was determined by analyzing market trends and conducting research to ensure that the prices would competitive and reasonable for both the fans and the team, rather than just randomly and arbitrarily assigning ticket prices.
Overall, a very well executed ticket plan from the Mendotas!
Madison Mammoths (Flower Mound High School, Texas)
If this tournament were seeded, the Mammoths (a popular choice for names this year!) would likely have been number one. Flower Mound students showed everything we had hoped to see in response to the first case study response…a concentration on not just promotions, but actually SELLING tickets, including seasons, groups, theme nights and creative spaces at the ballpark, premium seating, and luxury suites.
The Mammoths also included some unique giveaways (swim trunks, windbreakers) along with all the classics for MiLB ticket promotions like post-game Fireworks shows and bobblehead giveaways, and recognized the opportunity presented by rivalry games and star players by building promotions around those assets. Researching the Madison area helped to find a naming rights partner for the stadium, and Culver’s Park would certainly be a fun place to watch a game. The Mammoths left no stone unturned in developing a strategy for encouraging as many Madison area residents to buy tickets.
Excellent job Flower Mound students!
Madison Maples (Miami Valley Career Technical Center, Ohio)
One thing that stood out about the Maples’ response to this case study was the recognition of the different value of seating areas and pricing them accordingly (home plate area, down the line) vs. a traditional color-coded seating map and/or general admission pricing. Teams can generate significantly higher profits by creating value and pricing accordingly, as the Maples did with the unique “barstool seats” to add ticket inventory while creating a premium experience for fans.
The Maples were also smart to place an emphasis on keeping season ticket holders happy, which should be a priority for every team, by incentivizing the team’s core fan base with discounted tickets and exclusive benefits.
We also liked seeing a sponsor for each game day promotion, which would help to maximize sponsor revenue, and one of our favorites was the “Maple Time” promotion: If the home team scores 8 runs or more, fans could visit Trader Joes for a free bottle of maple syrup. As naming rights sponsor of the ballpark, this is also a great way to provide value to Trade Joe’s as a partner by helping to drive traffic to their stores.
Fantastic job MVTC students!
SCC’S 2023 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 2023 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!