Written by Josh Baker, University of Indianapolis Sport Management major - See more at: http://blog.uindy.edu/blog/sport-management#sthash.7Iyc2V50.dpuf
Written by Niki Lobo, University of Indianapolis Sport Management major
Students in the University of Indianapolis Administration of Athletics class (KINS 340) were able to catch a first-hand look of what it was like to work with the Indianapolis Indians. The class partnered with the Indians to assist the organization with their marketing mechanisms for their scheduled Monday, April 14 game versus the Columbus Clippers. Fittingly, this game was dubbed as “College Night” as a way to attract as many college students in the area as possible to the game so that they could be involved with the fun atmosphere that Victory Field provides. Unfortunately, the game was cancelled by the Indians due to weather. Even though we were unable to see the results of our efforts, this project still proved to be a very valuable opportunity for the students to be involved with a sports team in the area. As a class, we were still able to work together to determine the best way to tackle the project and how to successfully implement our plans.
The original goal of this hands-on project was to have 1,000 college students from UIndy, Butler, Marion, and IUPUI combined at the game (400 students from UIndy, 200 from Butler, 200 from Marion, and 200 from IUPUI). One of the biggest roles we played in this night was determining a marketing strategy to best communicate the discounted ticket price to each school. To make this easier, the class split up into four groups: one for UIndy, one for Butler, one for Marion, and one for IUPUI. I was assigned to the UIndy group. Each group then took it upon themselves to make contacts at the school they were assigned to in order to promote the game to each school’s student body. It was also the responsibility of each group to post the flyer around each campus community. The marketing mechanisms used to promote the “College Night” game and discounted tickets at each school included posting flyers, using social media, personal interactions, word of mouth, and communication through e-mail. In order to keep track of how many students attended from each school, there were registration tables that were going to be set up at the main entrance where students would sign-in by their school’s sign.
The Indians provided the class with 25 door prizes to hand out to students from the four schools who attended the game as an incentive to come to the game and check-in. Each group then had to determine a way to fairly distribute the prizes to their respective school during the game. As a class, we decided that six prizes would be distributed to Butler, Marion, and IUPUI, and seven prizes would be available for UIndy students due to the expected larger attendance numbers from UIndy students. Each group then decided exactly how the prizes would be distributed the day of the game to their school. Even though we were unable to go through with this part of the project, my group decided to use raffle tickets and draw out names to fairly pick a winner. Students would enter in the raffle by registering at the table upon entering the stadium. Once they entered their contact information, we would give instructions on how to collect their prize if they were chosen.
Other initiatives my class was in charge of for College Night included picking a representative from each school to throw the first pitch, finding participants for the three games that take place in between select innings, and also finding the National Anthem singer. The National Anthem singer was chosen from a pool of UIndy students through auditions that my class organized. It was the responsibility of the groups representing each school to pick a student representative for the first pitch and find participants for the three different games. Each group had different methods in doing this. For my group, the first pitch thrower was picked from a class vote and we chose our participants for the games ahead of time by promoting it to students in the student center.
Our class performed adequately in planning and marketing this event to the surrounding colleges for the Indians organization. It was disappointing that we were not able to adequately measure the success of our efforts due to cancellation of the game. If we were to measure our success, ticket sales by school would have played a major role. Students had the option to buy tickets ahead of time, which could be tracked by school through the Indians software, but any ticket purchased at the gate was unable to be tracked. The goal of having the registration tables by the entrance with the raffle prizes was also a way for us to keep track of the number of students who came from each school for College Night.
To improve upon this project, I would add more features to the College Night game, which would make it more special, draw in more students, and increase ticket sales. The Indians had their normal “dollar menu night” for the Monday night game, but other than this, there wasn’t much that made College Night different than attending other Indians game. One idea to add to the night and increase ticket sales is to hold a contest between the participating schools, and then award the school that has the largest amount of students present at the game. Scheduling this game for a Monday added to the difficulty in bringing out a significant crowd. Picking a different day of the week, such as a Thursday, would help draw a bigger crowd.
Another way to improve the project is for each group to hold a contest with their assigned school as a way to choose the first pitch winner and participants for the games in between the innings. This could be done by having students purchase tickets ahead of time if they want to have the chance to throw the first pitch, and then the name of the contestant for the first pitch/games would come from that pool of students who prepaid for their ticket. Instead of hand picking a random person, this will ensure fairness and also increase ticket sales through creating more excitement for the game by the chance to be involved. Having more prepaid tickets purchased would also help in tracking the total number of tickets for each school.
This project was a challenge compared to other projects in how hands-on it was with the way that the groups had to contact and go out to the schools in order to market the game to them. But, this also helped us learn more about marketing and restrictions to marketing such as where you can and can’t hang flyers, if the flyers had to be approved or not, and how certain things can’t be communicated over social media depending upon the school. Personally, this project helped me learn and realize a lot about sporting events and marketing. I was able to catch a glimpse of marketing towards a targeted market (college students) with a specific product (College Night) as opposed to marketing a general event to the entire community.
Despite the fact that we could not completely follow-through with this project, it was still a learning experience that I will never forget. My class was able to get first-hand experience on promoting an actual sporting event, and the Indians received some free help in marketing in return. As a result, I feel that this project has prepared the students from the class well for future employment in the sports management field.