After writing a post last week on the Blue Sox attendance issue, I was lucky enough to be contacted by the assistant GM of the Blue Sox, who educated me about the recent changes to the process. While I maintain (and he agrees) the Blue Sox are not perfect, I and am now convinced, and I can say with complete confidence, that the Blue Sox will become a Sydney institution in no time. Baseball is not Australia’s sport… yet. But that doesn’t mean the Blue Sox aren’t a great team, worthy of your attention.
So let’s tackle the issues I brought up…
I said: “Blacktown is too far.”
The Blue Sox replied: “True… but it’s the best option.”
Here’s something I forgot to mention in my last post, but have been reminded of: Blacktown offers the best place to host these games, by far. Sydney Olympic Park just wouldn’t work, for more reasons than one. And while it may not be the most ideal location, it afford the Blue Sox certain advantages such as more control over merchandising, concessions, etc that would be more difficult to manage in the middle of the city. In addition, people who go to the games are clearly fans – they’d have to be to make the trek. Building up a loyal fan base is key, and that’s goal number one. Once the Blacktown stadium is consistently selling out and the Blue Sox have the dough… then they’ll (maybe) start batting around the idea of a new stadium. But for now, Blacktown is perfect.
I said: “Give me a party bus.”
The Blue Sox replied: “All in good time.”
I admit that my party bus demands were a bit… juvenile (what can I say? I love a good party bus!). But the idea still stands: fans need a more convenient way to get out to the games. The Blue Sox know this and not only are they exploring ways to bring in fans from the suburbs and the city centre but they’ve also started offering free parking to members, which is getting a very positive reaction. The fact is: the overwhelming majority of people who go out to Blue Sox games, drive themselves there, and offering free parking is just one of the many ways the team is giving back to it’s members.
I said: “Target the unis.”
The Blue Sox replied: “We’re targeting everybody.”
The team is taking a very well-rounded approach to marketing by making themselves known to a variety of people: old and young, baseball and non-baseball fans, families and singles, city slickers and suburbanites. They’ll be involved with an MLB Watch Party in Sydney (for the World Series, coming up at the end of October – look for me, I’ll be there!) for adults, festival and community appearances for kids and Under 9s T-ball for families. And although they don’t prefer one group to another, admittedly, kids make the best fans. They’re the ones who will grow up to be the die-hards and remember when they got to see the Blue Sox while they were still at Blacktown. Not only that… they’re the ones who could grow up to be the next Blue Sox player!
I said: “Let your players come hang out with the people.”
The Blue Sox replied: “They’re pretty busy… but maybe.”
The quality of baseball played in Australia, especially in New South Wales, is high – evidenced by the fact that most of the Blue Sox have some sort of involvement with an MLB team. That means that although it might make sense to get their players out there with the fans, they do spend a lot of time in the states. They do as much as they can for, and with, the Blue Sox but they’re athletes first an foremost – not marketers.
I said: “Members not showing up to games is market inefficiency.”
The Blue Sox replied: “That’s why we’re working with them.”
Instead of marching to the front door of your members homes and dragging by the ear to the games (which is probably something I would do) the Blue Sox have taken a much less aggressive approach. Instead, they are working more with new and renewing members to best choose the correct membership for them, their family and situation. Sure, a team wants members – it’s guaranteed revenue and a sign that the team is growing in popularity – but only when both sides are getting what they want out of the deal. Members who don’t show up to games? That can actually cause the team to lose money (topic of a future post? I think so!). By offering different types of memberships (which I raved about last week) and working closely with potential members to select the correct membership, the Blue Sox become a much more sustainable team.
I said: “I want advertising!”
The Blue Sox replied: “Done.”
Like I mentioned last time, the Blue Sox aren’t a wealthy team… yet. That means they can’t exactly advertise in every possible venue to every possible demographic – the funds just aren’t there, which is completely understandable. But their events and appearances do make up for some of that, which they are increasing this year (I’ll keep you posted – we can all go together) and this year there will be *DRUM ROLL PLEASE* a commercial! Seriously. I’m on the edge of my seat.
And there you have it. The team and league are not going to be perfect – it’s only their third year. But you have to admit, they’re adapting so well to their circumstances and have very thoughtful approaches to their obstacles. I know they’re not dominating Sydney right now… but I have no doubt that they will – especially if they continue on this path! I can’t wait for the season to start.