October is just around the corner, and baseball fans around the United States are anxiously waiting to find out whether their beloved teams will be playing on baseball’s largest stage, the World Series. However, there is so much more to the world of baseball than the MLB. Minor league baseball teams are bringing in record numbers of revenue by providing a source of entertainment to men and women of all ages. In fact, in 2013 the Sacramento River Cats generated $14 million of revenue and are valued at $38 million. However, it is not the game of baseball itself that brings people to the games. It is the creativity and ingenuity of the front office that is bringing in the revenue for all minor league clubs and will continue to increase the popularity and profitability of minor league baseball.
Every season, minor league baseball teams come up with promotions that will attract thousands upon thousands of people to their games. The Birmingham Barons, Double-A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox, are a perfect example of a team that does an incredible job of using promotions to increase attendance and revenue. They have a “Thirsty Thursday” promotion every Thursday home game. Not only that, but every Tuesday is “50-cent hot dog night”, and every Friday there are “Friday Night Fireworks”. This 2015 season, the Barons have attracted 400,506 fans and average 6,460 fans every game, with a stadium capacity of 8,500. Promotions have played a large role behind this astonishing success in attracting fans to the games. In fact, the Barons attract 2,070 more fans on average than their closest competitor, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
Mobile Usage by fans
Living in a time where cell phones play an incredibly large role in society, minor league baseball teams have only used that to their advantage. Twelve minor league teams now allow their fans to order food by simply texting them their order. The Triple-A Buffalo Bisons hold auctions over the phone that allows fans to bid on team memorabilia. Allowed by the quick results of the bidding, the winning fan is announced on the field after the game. Mike Veeck, owner of five minor-league teams, is now planning on using cell phones to allow fans to be able to vote on the manager’s next move and the results will be displayed on the scoreboard. As a result of the astounding success, two MLB teams, the Braves and Mariners, will allow fans to dial the kitchen to order food. Mobile usage by fans is a recent development, but is only showing signs of continued growth, as shown by the figures below. Despite the fact that attendance among mobile owners has slightly decreased, the mobile usage during games has increased greatly.
Community and Family Fun
Community is yet other aspect that MiLB teams use to their advantage to draw thousands of people to games. The Dayton Dragons are one of the best minor league organizations at mastering the community relationship. As a matter of fact, the team is on pace to sell out for 1,121 straight games by the end of the season. One of the many things the Dragons front office does so well is connecting each season ticket holder with one ticket representative, which allows the season ticket holder to develop a relationship with a member of the front office. The Dragons also have certain promotional nights that feature gifts only available to season ticket holders, as do the Birmingham Barons.
MiLB baseball teams all across the country have proven just successful promotions, mobile usage during the games, and community can be. In a day and age where tickets to MLB games are becoming increasingly unaffordable, the success of minor league baseball is only just beginning.
This blog post was written by Samford University student Jay Davis.
Berg, Ted, Ortiz, Jorge, White, Paul. USA Today 10 Best. “Best Minor League Ballpark”. Retrieved from: http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-minor-league-ballpark/
Bialik, Carl. Wall Street Journal. “Ballparks Let Fans Order Food From Seats by Using Cellphones” Retrieved from: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB105466383724866000?mg=id-wsj
MiLB. “Southern League Attendance.” Retrieved from: http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=l_att&lid=111&sid=l111
Smith, Chris. Forbes. “Minor League Baseball’s Most Valuable Teams.” Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2013/07/17/minor-league-baseballs-most-valuable-teams/
Williams, Blake. Forbes. “The Unique Sports Marketing Challenges Facing Minor League Baseball.” Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/blakewilliams3012/2015/08/11/the-unique-sports-marketing-challenges-facing-minor-league-baseball/2/ [link broken as of 3/4/2019]