Ah, variable pricing. The never-ending possibilities. Let’s talk about it.
Variable pricing is when prices change based on a region, location, date or other aspects. This is also known as ‘real-time pricing.’
Ah, variable pricing. The never-ending possibilities. Let’s talk about it.
Variable pricing is when prices change based on a region, location, date or other aspects. This is also known as ‘real-time pricing.’
I was really excited the other day when I read a headline for ‘The World’s Most Functional Stadium.’ I thought: great. Very cool. Stadiums in Australia could use a facelift (or two). See, there’s this project (the NSW Stadia Strategy) that is meant to fund stadium building and improvements in NSW in order to improve patron experience. They’re also a bit jealous of Victoria and want to be the new home of international sporting events.
So when I read the details about it I had to ask… who thought this was a good idea?
Last week I told you about a study I read that analysed the preference for foreign and domestic talent in the English Premier League. I then told you I would apply it to Australia. I did warn you that I don’t have the numbers, but I have a few ideas about foreign talent in the various Australian leagues…
I am almost positive there would be no significant impact on attendance and that fans would not show a preference for foreign or domestic players. Foreign talents not only makes up a pretty small percentage of players (only 14 current players, total) but even the good ones are not as widely known as the Aussies. And there aren’t very many good ones (can you even name five?). I will make one exception: Jim Stynes. Players like that impact the game, and attendance.
I also think foreign talent is pretty accurately represented. As I mentioned, there aren’t many good foreign players. Even the ones who are good, aren’t that good. I doubt the damage or contribute to the game… they just are.
And actually, while I’m at it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they do damage the game. In a book I read called ‘How To Play Australian Football’ everyone seems to think that what makes a good player is practice. Knowing the game, knowing your opponent, knowing how to work the space, opposition and your teammates strengths. Since AFL is hardly an international sport (yet) how can you expect that a foreigner (someone who hasn’t grown up playing the game) to do that?
I’d be interested in seeing this. I can’t seem to find information on the number of non-domestic players in the NRL but I don’t think there are very many (off the top of my head). To me, and perhaps this is a very uneducated assertion, but it seems like this could be the league with the most negative impact. Rugby fans (let me be clear: THE FANS, not the players, clubs or leagues) tend to be a bit… outrageous… and I can see how a foreign player, if they are not performing well, would upset people.
Depending on where the players came from, there could be a significant contribution to the team. Players from South Africa, New Zealand or the UK, for instance, could be beneficial. Players from the US might be a bit more detrimental. That would be an interesting study.
As you know from my previous post, I don’t think Americans do well in the NBL. I don’t think they would affect attendance at all. After all, the NBL has a rule which limits the number of non-Australiasian players per team (limit of 2). I don’t think the fans would care at all.
But performance… I’d put good money on it that non-domestic players are a hindrance. While they know how to play basketball, and many can play it very well, they don’t play it the Australian way. Look at the Hawks this season: more appearances by the Americans… fewer wins (although I’m rooting for them, since I volunteer there – GO HAWKS! I DON’T CARE WHERE YOU ARE ON THE LADDER OR WHO YOU SELECT TO PLAY!). I think the style of play is too different and that they are damaging teams, overall. Let me be clear though, I only feel that way about the American players. I would call them ‘overrepresented’ if we were sticking the terminology used in Part 1. Other players… I’d love to see.
This is the only league in which I fully, 100% support American imports. Baseball is America’s past time so odds are that the US produces some quality players. Not to mention, many ABL players spend time in US in the off season playing for the major and minor leagues. I actually support most international players in the ABL – I think it’s smart. Japan and the Dominican Republic, for instance, also have amazing leagues with great quality players. While I hate to say this, I’d bet that the foreign players provide more marginal benefit than the domestic players. In this case, I assert that foreign players are underrepresented.
It wouldn’t impact attendance. The only way I can see that happening is if there’s a big star, which the ABL hasn’t really landed yet.
What do you all think? Are my assumptions way off base?
Do you want me to run the numbers for any of these leagues? I’d be interested (and willing!) but only if someone else cares, too. Otherwise… I’m just a crazy woman obsessing about foreigners and statistics. Weird.
Do you know about the MLB Fan Cave? Because it’s amazing – so you should. And it just opened for applications for next season, which got me thinking… Can the ABL recreate the MLB Fan Cave? And I decided that it can… with a few modifications.
In a nutshell, the MLB picks fans (legit, baseball fans – most of them die-hards) to watch games together in the Fan Cave and blog, vlog, tweet and generally go social media crazy about it. The Fan Cave is this awesome place where there are TVs, snacks, drinks, and fun things – toys for adults, if you will. They have sponsors and the who’s who of baseball make appearances there regularly. The Fan Cave is host to concerts and other events throughout the year and essentially allows for another outlet for fan interaction. The MLB provides housing and a stipend for the fans while they participate – it’s a pretty big commitment.
How cool is that? How much do you want your favourite league to pay for your housing just so you can watch every game with a bunch of other fans? And all you have to do is publicize with social media? Tell me the truth: you spend time doing some of that stuff anyway, right?
The ABL can’t afford to replicate this right now, I realize (although I think this is something they could get the MLB to help them out with, financially) but they can certainly execute a derivative of this. There are so many ways to do this without spending a bunch of money. They just need one main thing: creativity.
The ABL can modify the idea of the Fan Cave and get their members together at the game. I’m SURE they could spare a few tickets. I’m thinking at least five people per team, ideally ten (that way you could get a minimum of five to eight per game and costs would stay low). Let me show you how this can be a cheap thing to do.
Idea 1: Sit them together so they can bond and brainstorm… or get them a cool office within the ball park and stock it with snacks and a sick TV – there’s probably already a room like this, right?
Cost: Free (if you’re not selling out games, then you can consider these free tickets)
Idea 2: Ideally? Give them a few beers and a couple snacks to get their enthusiasm flowing
Cost: 2 beers per person, 10 people, $6 per beer = $120
Idea 3: Get them some gear to dress up in. Hat, shirt, lanyard for their game pass. Done. If they post photos, you need them looking good.
Cost: Free (if you use leftover gear – DON’T LIE TO ME! I KNOW YOU HAVE EXTRA GEAR!) or a couple hundred if you want to get them personalized with something like ‘ABL Fan Cave’… or something
Idea 4: Bring them to events like the MLB Playoff Party or publicity events so they have more to write about – they’ll also feel important, which they are
Cost: Variable, dependent on location and event (but teams wouldn’t have to invite them to expensive ones!)
Idea 5: Let them hangout with the players. Think of the amazing photos, quotes and interviews that would be all over the web!
Idea 6: Give them early access to games and let them come to a couple practices. Another way to make them enthusiastic about their “job”
Idea 7: Post their photos on your website to give them recognition
Idea 8: Introduce them to people who can give them an inside look and provide interviews (staff, coaches, MLB players…) so they have even more to include in their social media endeavours
Cost: Nearly free (only cost of time, which is not monetary)
Do you see? The total cost for this program would only be a few hundred dollars – which could easily be adjusted depending on how much you can (or want to) give. The only inconvenience would be selecting the people and manage their happiness (but they’re big kids, so it shouldn’t be that difficult). But this is all publicity. People notice these things! They’ll be jealous at the cool things these people do and want to be a part of it. And as I’ve said time and time again… who can say no to free advertising?
Oh, and for the record, I think this is something that ANY Australian league could execute. AFL, NRL, NBL… this is fair game. I will implement this once one of them hires me (ready, set, GO!).
Would you want to be a part of something like this? Do you think it would generate positive buzz about the organization?
Sorry for waiting three days for a post. You know how the weekends get… not to mention daylight savings messed up my ‘Schedule’ option so that’s just nonsense. On to business.
Recently, while I was volunteering at a Wollongong Hawks game I got into a conversation with another volunteer about Hawks merchandise. She has been a volunteer for a couple years and mentioned that last season, the team had ugly hats. Maybe that’s a bit harsh… but they only had the regular ball caps which, if you know anything about youth, went out of style back in 2004. She suggested they get the flat brim caps (New Era and I have a pretty serious relationship) and this season, they did. They’re selling like mad. (By the way, I am salivating over the AFL’s new ones!)
I do not understand team merchandise in Australia. It’s as if they don’t know they’re customer. They seem to offer products that no one (at least no one in their right mind) would purchase and omit things that would be obvious sales. I’ve come up with some things I think are obvious additions to their merchandise options.
Women’s Apparel – I follow a ton of amazing women on Twitter who are massive fans, so that certainly can’t be the case. So why is it that there are so few options for women when it comes to sports merchandise? Does it not sell? (if anyone from a pro team is reading this and you know something about it – email me, I’d love to know) Take the Sydney Swans, for instance who only have 3 items for women. The GWS Giants only have 4 (one of which is socks and that doesn’t count, does it?). Sure, women can buy men’s or children’s items, but cute stuff sells. I mean… the Victoria Secret line for colleges football and their line for NFL teams? That’s GOLD. I want to go to all those schools and support all those teams if it means I can wear that stuff. C’mon Australia – partner with CottonOn (ooh, ooh, COTTON ON BODY!) and get some cute stuff for us girls.
Undergarments – I know this is a bit out there… but I think it’d sell. I was actually looking for North Melbourne underwear for my boyfriend for Christmas, and couldn’t find any – anywhere. And I would totally rock a purple bikini with a gold crown on it for the Sydney Kings or something. I’m also sort of in love with the Boston Celtics underwear. Put it this way – on days that reppin’ your club merch isn’t appropriate (like when I was at a hen’s party during the AFL semis) it’s a stealth way to support your team.
Game Day Stuff – GWS has a good array of things, but other teams desperately need some help in this area. While you can buy some things at the game, making them available online, especially during the off-/pre-season when people are getting hyped up for the first game, is a great selling point. Inflatable hands, flags, signs or other things to bring to the stadium on game day are perfect products. The Hawks, I’ve noticed, don’t have many of these and neither do the Blue Sox. I think they’d be great additions for next season.
Subtle Products – I am going to go out on a limb and say that all products should be subtle. No one wants to look like a walking advertisement. I’m all for logos and plastering my club’s name across my chest. But sometimes, if I’m not at an actual stadium, which most of the time, we’re not, I’d like something a bit classier. Which is why the Victoria’s Secret football apparel I mentioned earlier is such a big hit. It’s a way of supporting your team, and making it known, without looking like the club’s mascot. Even on a weekend, no one wants that. Examples? Anything that looks a bit retro (kudos to the Blue Sox, who have something like this!), or something small I can rock without being obnoxious, or anything that’s not ridiculously graphic. (this Adam Goodes shirt is just too much – I love you, Adam, but no)
Shoes – Maybe this is just me but for 3 years at college I rocked a pair of Boston Celtics house slippers. The only reason I don’t still have them is because I literally wore them to death (I wore them outside during Massachusetts winter – I am a fool). I really wanted a pair of AFL ones, but couldn’t find them anywhere. The NBL and ABL would be great candidates for this since the AFL isn’t doing it – set yourselves apart, guys! A good option for the AFL would be to go the road of the NBA and team up with an athletic company for a limited edition of sport shoes – remember those? I always regretted not getting a Spurs pair (enter sigh of regret here). The AFL has enough of a presence around Australia that I KNOW these shoes would sell. Fast. They don’t need to be ridiculous, but even thongs would be better than nothing.
Jewelry – This is a combination of Women’s Apparel and Subtle Products… but I don’t care. I WANT A SWANS PENDANT. I would want a GWS bracelet… but a Giant doesn’t exactly lend itself to jewelry. Maybe try and get fancy with the letters? The Blue Sox, on the other hand have the perfect mascot to do this, as do the Hawks and the Kings (what female do you know that wouldn’t rock a crown necklace/bracelet/earrings?). This is a gold mine. Literally. Get me some jewelry. (Can you tell I haven’t been shopping in a while?)
Beach Supplies – THIS IS AUSTRALIA. ALL TEAMS SHOULD BE SELLING BEACH SUPPLIES. Bikinis, towels, umbrellas, eskys – sell them all.
I am now considering a second part to this called: Merchandise That Should Not Be Sold. Or something like that. As well as a post on possible partnerships for merchandise (like how I mentioned Cotton On). Thoughts?
Are there things you wish these Sydney clubs sold? Are there things they sell that you just don’t understand? What club merchandise do you wear most often?
It should come as no surprise that the ABL battles to meet numbers. Baseball is traditionally, after all, an American sport. By establishing a league in Australia, there should have been enough interest to produce a successful season (or at least a season with earnings, not losses). It’s not looking that way.
First, I have going to commend them on their membership pricing and options. There are so many and I can see why each one would be purchased. It’s genius… and probably why they have a solid number of members. The memberships are also affordable, which is more than can be said for some clubs/venues (*cough*SCG*cough*). They have perfectly planned the membership… but members aren’t actually coming to games. And that’s the real problem. I want to tell the Blue Sox to count their blessings – they got the money from memberships and people are turning up to games! Who cares if the members don’t show up? But that’s not what they want…
Apparently, they’ve had to turn fans away because the stadium is technically “sold out.” A reason this is a problem, although no one has said this, is because members get discounted tickets. When a team has to turn away someone who was willing to pay more, that’s market inefficiency (I’ll write more on this some other time). And can you imagine if you finally made it out to Blacktown for your first game with the kids, and you were told the stadium had sold out? Ugh. There goes that fan, FOREVER. The solution is simple: lower the number of memberships sold, increase the cost (those who want the membership will still purchase it) and make more tickets available to new fans. Although… that might not be as easy as it sounds because:
1. The stadium is out of the way. Seriously, Blue Sox? What were you thinking when you decided your games should be played in Blacktown? It is completely out of the way – it takes ages to get to via public transport and driving out there would be… unpleasant. I’m going to a friend’s AFL finals this weekend (Go Dom and Sydney Uni AFL!) and I am dreading it. Not because I don’t want to see him play, but because I don’t want to have to trek to Blacktown. I am not the only one that feels this way. If the Blue Sox want to appeal to young people (and really, doesn’t everyone?), a Blacktown venue is not ideal.
The perfect solution? Party bus! Or at least offer transportation… Most clubs (Sydney Swans, GWS etc) have special transportation on game days. I feel like this would be especially helpful for the Blue Sox since the stadium is out of the way. And as far as the party bus goes… I can’t think of college student who wouldn’t go to a sporting event if there was a party bus involved. Seriously, here’s how you do it: grab a marketing student (or poor college student), call them a “promoter,” give them a cool shirt and get them to round up their friends on Saturday morning (and giving them a good buzz) before piling them onto a bus and sending them to the ball park. Everyone wins. (Blue Sox, if you want to do this, start at Sydney Uni Village – American AND Aussie students. It’s what I’d like to call a “gold mine.”)
I understand the ABL isn’t exactly rolling in the dough (yet) but they’ll ever be if they don’t put a little investment into it. Aussies aren’t going to just start liking baseball more than rugby.
2. Most of their players run away in the off-season. Players want to play in the MLB – I get it. I wrote a post about it. But by allowing the key/most popular players spend their winters in America (and getting back-to-back-to-back summers, those lucky, LUCKY men) you’re missing out on some fabulous promotion opportunities. If people are going to care about the Blue Sox, part of that mean caring about the players. I have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who started going to the games of a certain rugby team because she had a crush on one of the players. She had the crush because they had spent an evening together at a bar and had a great time. Ah, true love (actually, they never spoke again, but that’s a separate issue).
I’m not saying you need to turn your players into alcoholics and win over the hearts of every girl at the bar (although it couldn’t hurt, right?) but players need to be present. Send them all to a festival and tweet about it, post to the website about it and put up some photos/videos of them with fans. Make them humans first, then turn them into gods. Spending time with the public (in a real way, not just letting them sign autographs at some event) is a quick way to grow a fan base… and in the off-season, what else do the players have to do (except train constantly, of course)?
3. There is no advertising. Have you ever seen a Blue Sox commercial? No? I’m not surprised. I haven’t either. BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE. Other than the website (which is very well kept, I must say) I have seen no advertising for the Blue Sox at all. And I’ve been in Sydney for over a year. Nothing in a year?! That’s absurd. Again, if it’s a money problem, that’s understandable. But something needs to be done.
Personally, I get half my knowledge from those big posters. You know the ones they use for concerts and they put 10 of them in a row up on random walls around the city? I think that’d be perfect for the Blue Sox! Maybe go guerilla-street and plaster schools with fliers. Maybe a small (not too small) ad in the sports section of SMH? Get your interns/volunteers/whoever is in charge of marketing to submit articles to SBI or The Roar (or, if you’re interested, my blog!) just to get the team out there.
Or they could even… and stay with me now… do a commercial. But not just any commercial. A commercial during the AFL grand final. If the Blue Sox, or even just the ABL, were to make a good commercial (something as good as this, perhaps?) so many people would see it and, as a quality commercial, it would stand out (seriously, have you seen the stinkers they air? It’s almost embarrassing).
As an outsider, those are the three major issues I see that are preventing the Blue Sox from reaching their attendance goals. The solutions seem pretty easy, right? Any other ideas or glaring problems I haven’t come up with?
WARNING: THIS IS A LONG POST.
As a new league, the ABL has very closely associated themselves with the MLB (USA). They’re jointly owned by the ABF and MLB so they kinda have to. The MLB has provided support in a million different ways providing finances, employment and internship assistance, initial organisation and, the thing I have an issue with, players.
Australians haven’t done so well in the MLB, despite what the ABL keeps trying to say. There have been only 28 Australian-born players in the MLB since the league was founded in 1869 and none of them have reached the heights that the US stars have. Most people have heard of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Albert Pujols – especially if you’re into baseball – but not many people have heard of Grant Balfour, Rich Thompson or Luke Hughes. Call it culture, but Aussies don’t shine like they should. And they rarely play for a major league team for over a year and most of them get stuck in the minors. But hey, if they play at all – that’s pretty great. Not many people, American or not, can say they’ve played in the most competitive baseball league in the world. (Note: this seems to be specific to baseball, as Aussies have done very well in the NBA and NFL… they’re not really the hockey type)
That’s not to say these guys aren’t great players. Glenn Williams played with the Minnesota Twins in 2005 and had a careerbatting average of .425 (a decent average if .300 – .400 and the league average is currently ) and yet, no one talks about him. Dave Nilsson played for Milwaukee Brewers for seven years and had a 470 RBI and 150 home runs. That’s pretty noteworthy, if you ask me. So they’re good players – I’m not trying to insult their skills.
The problem lies within the relationship. The MLB has essentially been using Australia like they use any other country – they take the best players so they can put them in the best competition (go ahead and fight me if you think there is a better baseball competition in the world – it will be a short fight) and they have a long history for doing so with countries like Japan, the Dominican Republic and many other countries. That’s great for the MLB and great(ish) for the best Aussie players. But those benefits rang true before there was a professional Australian league. What happens now that the ABL has been established? How does the relationship between the MLB and the ABL affect both leagues? Who wins this arrangement? Let’s tally up the points…
Starting with the main issue: money. The MLB has pumped some money into the ABL but hasn’t really seen a return yet (leaving the players out of it). Still, they keep helping out. League benefit: ABL (ABL-1, MLB-0)
Even though the MLB hasn’t seen profits yet… doesn’t mean they’re not getting good publicity. If you check out the ABL homepage, or the homepage of any team, for that matter, MLB news dominates it – not ABL news. That’s not a bad deal. League benefit: MLB (ABL-1, MLB-1
Because baseball is a summer sport and American and Australian summers are at different times of the year, this has some perks. Players from each league can play with the other league in the off-season (ahhhh, spring training). This is especially good for the ABL because it means better players, less costs associated with training (beneficial to both leagues) and, ideally, getting a big name down to Australia every so often to hype up the fans. This can only happen because of the close relationship between the leagues. Not a lot of teams would want their stars playing in other countries during their time off but this arrangement is really convenient for everyone. League Benefit: Both (ABL-2, MLB-2)
And by building up players who then go to the MLB, the ABL is gaining in popularity. More people hear about where the players come from and want to know more. If there’s one thing Aussies love, it’s their compatriots playing for a big league in another country – they pay very close attention. This can help build up the ABL (we’ll have to wait and see) and trading good players gets them some money… and we all know that sports need money. League benefit: ABL (ABL-3, MLB-2)
But sending their best players to the MLB, well, the ABL is losing their best players to another league. There’s no other way of saying that.The sad part about the ABL is that so many players, Australian and American, are treating it like a minor league team. They see it as a pit stop on the way to the MLB which means when the MLB comes calling, they drop everything and go. And if you ask me, that’s no way to build a league. Not only that… but they view it as a place they can end up – a “safety net” if you will – if they don’t make it in/to the MLB. For example, Brandon Barnes is an American who couldn’t really make it in the US. So he came to Australia and played for the Blue Sox for a year… and now he’s called up to the Houston Astros. Great for Brandon. Not so great for the Blue Sox who just lost a good player. League benefit: MLB (ABL-3, MLB,3)
Big names come down here to help out as well – former players, coaches, and staff come down to Australia, courtesy of the MLB and help out with the Academy or even get on the team staff here. They’re talented people who just don’t want to deal with the MLB anymore. Fine by me! League benefit: ABL (ABL-4, MLB-3)
So looks like I was wrong… ish. It does look like the ABL benefit from the relationship. And it looks like a mutually beneficial relationship, too. But I still maintain that all this player drama isn’t good.
These players, who use the ABL as a means to an end have got to stop. Not only will the ABL suffer because they are constantly losing players and need to search for new ones, but it’s also detrimental to fans. I would be pissed to see my favourite and best players running away to another country every season. And if the dregs just end up in Australia and treating the ABL as a consolation prize… well, that’s not good for fan morale, either. And the ABL wants this game to be popular. At least, I assume they do.
So what do you think? Does the good outweigh he bad? How can the ABL keep its players and grow as a league without stepping on the toes of its most important relationship: the MLB?
Note: I’ll have to evaluate the relationship between the ABF and ABL sometime soon… more on that later.