Drawing Fans to Games – Promotions, theme nights, etc.

All professional sports teams arrange theme nights to try to get more people through the gates, and the Rainmen were no exception last year – with the three most successful theme nights being “family night” (two for one), minor league hoops night (discounts for kids teams) and Semi-Pro night (give aways related to the movie plus tons of promotion on Q104). With the increased number of weekend games this year attendance will hopefully go up, but the Rainmen still need to add a few special nights to try to draw people – particularly for that lone Thursday home game against Manchester.  People have commented on the blog in other posts, but I figured I’d post some of my thoughts and create one place to put that discussion.  My thoughts after the jump.

- The Rainmen came up with a great idea where they have offered high school teams the chance to play a game before the Rainmen on the floor at the MetroCentre.  The teams can also sell discounted tickets and will split the procedes of the tickets they sell 50/50 with the Rainmen.  It brings in new fans, gives kids an amazing chance to play in a huge arena, and serves as good PR.  It also gives high school kids an opportunity to get some discounted tickets and lets Rainmen fans catch some high school hoops that they normally wouldn’t see.  The schedule is as follows:

  • Jan. 9 – Cole Harbour vs. Yarmouth
  • Jan. 11 – Horton vs. Sackville
  • Jan. 25 – Millwood vs. JL Isley
  • Feb. 8 – Lockview vs. CP Allen
  • Feb. 15 – Parkview vs. Sir John A. MacDonald

The two biggest games will probably be Cole Harbour which is a high school a lot of Rainmen fans from last year attend, and Horton who may still be undefeated at that point (unfortunately they’re not likely to be beaten by Millwood).  The CPA/Lockview game should also draw some people from the ‘burbs.  This means that they need to come up with just five additional promotions, although I am sure they can add some neat promotions to those high school games.

- They need to promote promotions (those words are redundant words) early, probably before the season begins.  Make a calendar with the promotions and theme nights and then do an add blitz in the lead up, but last year some of them were announced too close to the game day.  Joe posted an idea in another thread:  give out mini-schedules at the home opener and other events.  I think that having a clear piece of advertising material that is also helpful to give out when they go to kids basketball games or other events, and to put in stores and schools around town.

- Family night/two for one night should happen again – it was huge.  But they need to make sure season ticket holders are given free tickets so you’re not punishing the most loyal fans.  I would consider doing it on the Thursday night game against Manchester (January 29) to prevent that night from being a total wash.

- They should have Mooseheads Night.  During a weekend when there is a Rainmen game the night after a Mooseheads game they should offer free (or half off) admission to the Rainmen game with the ticket stub from the Mooseheads game.  See if the Mooseheads are willing to do the same thing in reverse on a different weekend.  It is a promotion for both teams and the more they can work together the better.

- Military Family Appreciation night could be big.  People seemed really into it last year, and with some extra lead time it would be a relatively low risk/cost seat filler.  I also think that this year there is a neat plot line to work into it – Halifax a grad from the Citadel (US military college) in Kevin Hammack.  To make it even better, Montreal have signed Kevin Dulude – a shooting guard who is one of the most prolific scorers to ever come out of OUA, a CIS all Canadian and arguably the best athlete to ever play varsity athletics at the Royal Military College.  A Montreal vs. Halifax match up on Military night is a ready-made plot line!  Unfortunately they’d have to either do it early in the season – Jan. 11, second home game – or way too late – season closer on March 28.  If they start marketing it now, selling it as stocking stuffers, etc. it could be a pretty awesome opportunity for marketing and a good chance for some military families to get a deal on tickets.

- They need to do something huge for opening night to get people in.

- They need to be smart about how they give out comps.  Every event gives out free tickets to pad the room – they need to do the same in such a way that it is either positive PR or is going to people who may return/will tell others to go.  One method is something they did towards the end of the season – get sponsors to purchase blocks of tickets for non-profits/youth groups.  there should be a whole section, ideally far away from section23, with tickets given to the Boys and Girls Club, LOVE, United Way, whoever by a different sponsor each game.  Even if you have to over the tickets at a crazy discount (almost or even totally free some nights to loyal sponsors) they should do it.  As for individual comps, they should be given early in the season to minor league and university basketball officials, old boys club members and teams.  They should also look to give them to that elusive group of cool, young urban dwellers that marketing types call “taste makers” – record store owners, sneaker fanatics, hip hop and indie rock musicians, music promoters and producers, actors, filmmakers, artists of all types, etc.  I know enough people from my time working in the Halifax “music industry” that I’d willing to help them try to get comps in the hands of people from those groups, and I am sure they have enough local connections that they could make it work.

Can anyone think of any other neat promotions or theme nights they should try?  Student night last year was a bust but is there a way to make it work?

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8 thoughts on “Drawing Fans to Games – Promotions, theme nights, etc.

  1. That is a dope chance for those high school teams. To bad we can’t see Citadel play against Horton High. I didnt go to ladies night last year did it go good?

  2. That is a great, great idea with the Mooseheads’ night. Get the team during a home stand, and bring them courtside like last year. Stick a guy in during the breaks to help out in the oncourt show. The redeeming ticket stubs idea is what intrigues me the most though. Don’t offer the game for free cause that makes the Rainmen’s product look worthless. But, do keep the prices really low; $5 flat for the Rainmen game for any one who attended the last Moose game. The Rainmen and Mooseheads seemed to have a good relationship last year, and this would be great cross promotion for both teams. Get on this, Rainmen.

    More thoughts later.

  3. I dig the Mooseheads idea quite a bit. For something like that, I’d say do it really early in the season so you get people interested early. It seems like the Mooseheads crowd would be a great group to market to since they’re already predisposed to spending money to go to sporting events. Get them in the gates for cheap once, you can get them coming back for more.

    For the student night thing last year, that one seemed doomed from the start. As weird as it sounds, general university students who go to college games don’t really go to sporting events. Sports fans go to sporting events. Students who aren’t necessarily huge sport fans go to games to get drunk and cheer for their school. Take away the school factor, what would make them want to go?

    That said, there’s still money to be made off school sports. What you need to get are the people that buy ticket packages for the AUS and CIS championships every year. Those events get huge turnouts of paying customers without having to paper the town with free tickets, or even really doing much promotion. The Rainmen did a good job with promotions during last year’s AUS, but thats late in the season. If I were the Rainmen, I’d be *begging* for the AUS ticket mailing list so I could send two free tickets to an early season game to every person on the list.

  4. I really don’t see bands as being a real draw. Have you, or anyone you knew, every gone to a sporting event to see the half time act? The Attic is gone and the Marquee is shutting down at the end of January – if bars can’t draw people to see live music then basketball games have their work cut out for them. The only people who would draw someone (i.e. Joel Plaskett type acts) would need ungodly sums of money (Plaskett solo would be in the $4k range, with the band would probably be closer to $7k) and have expensive technical requirements.

    The only real use for it is to get some name recognition within a community (i.e. if Winom Earle played Halifax locals folks would talk about it, put a hip hop guy on there and hip hop fans might talk) but it won’t actually sell more than ten tickets.

    They should just rely on people willing to do it for free at half time and not anticipate it as a major draw. Solo acts/good hip hop acts are ideal since they have very minimal technical requirements. I’d like to see someone line Ghetto Socks throwing down rhymes during the home opener.

  5. Pingback: Mooseheads Attendance at Lowest Point Ever « SECTION 23

  6. Some great ideas here. I think the MOST importnant thing the Rainment need to do for now is keep their website up to date. Once people are intrigued by the team, they go to the website — if it is not current, the whoel organization looks shabby.

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