In one of the problems which many independent baseball teams have faced over the years, the London (Ontario) Rippers of the Frontier League ran into a challenge over the ability to secure a beer license at their stadium. The local semi-pro London Majors team, which has been in the region since the 1920’s, has the exclusive rights to sell beer at the stadium according to local/regional policy.
The Rippers owner challenged the Majors to a series to determine who gets the beer license with a “loser leaves town” clause. This is rather unique, but remembering history is important. The Rippers in their first half of a season have generated some publicity, but not necessarily which is endearing to the locals. In addition to creating controversy as the new team in town over this beer license issue, the team received national awareness with its “Jack The Ripper” type of logo. While it is helpful to have national publicity for a new team, there are many additional ways to do so without causing concern over a logo (http://ballparkdigest.com/201111164342/independent-baseball/features/new-for-2012-london-rippers). Divisive actions and statements, rather than ones more oriented toward being “inclusive”, tend to cause fans to stay away and, obviously, hurt profitability. Hopefully the beer issue gets resolved amicably and the Rippers have the opportunity to grow its business model and its fan base into a multi-year success.
There is a much greater issue at stake here.
Since this website wants the independent professional baseball industry to flourish in its current and future markets, here are some simple suggestions to help the team increase its attendance and, much more importantly, its overall profitability even if attendance never increases by a single body. These strategies apply to any pro team, not just the Rippers:
- Be sure that the team’s schedule is on the online event calendars which syndicate the games to their e-mail and text subscribers. This is free, can be done by interns, and remind people about the games in the local area when these possible attendees otherwise might forget that the team is in town that night
- Get smart about increasing the revenue per website visitor. CPM, CPC, CPA, affiliate, print on demand player merchandise and many other revenue models exist which NO pro teams are utilizing properly. Even selling ad space based on a particular web page’s “PageRank” exist; and these would level out the seasonality aspect to a team’s revenues. The pre-tax margins on these revenues are near 100%, so they can become pure profit for a team or league
- Very few pro sports teams are monetizing their social media properly. This addresses both:
- a team’s current Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts
- the hundreds of additional social media sites and forums on which no pro team has any sort of presence YET are trusted by locals and sports fans across North America
- The teams often have no press releases to generate “hype” for upcoming games, even when the promotions are terrific. Sadly, many teams have to realize that organizing the terrific promotions are (in today’s climate) only a part of the equation. The marketing of these promotions is the next level
- Most teams fail to utilize the e-mail newsletter lists properly. The content rarely is entertaining, often does not have “exclusive” content for the list members, and rarely has anything worthwhile for the readers to share (via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth, etc.)
- There is no monetizing of the intellectual property possessed by the players, managers, front office, or owners
- No “video thank you cards” exists to increase the likelihood that members of the group who could not make that night’s group outing will book their own group sales with inbound calls to the team’s ticket office
- The teams barely have any sale of their merchandise on established selling-oriented websites like Amazon or eBay, where lots of demand for “minor league” merchandise gets transacted
- Monetizing the history and trivia of independent baseball through a free model which can help teams make money every day through website links, social media, and e-mail newsletter mailings + QR codes
There are at least an additional 15 (possibly more) revenue models which independent teams or other pro teams do not partake, many of them free or with minimal set-up costs. Any pro sports team, league, federation or promotion is welcome to contact us for more information about what can be done to boost their profitability in a customized manner, using the mentioned techniques or any combination of the revenue models not listed.
To the original point of the London challenge, yes, beer and professional baseball are going to be a necessary combination. High school and college baseball have the potential to draw fans since the residents in the area attended these institutions and have an emotional or financial investment (e.g. tax dollars) in them. Since the independent pro teams usually have players from outside of the region on the roster and are for-profit entities, fans today will not just show up in large numbers to support people in which they have no emotional or financial investment just to watch baseball. They have too many challenges or entertainment options at home or around town to attend a live event which is not enjoyable to them. Acquiring beer sales rights obviously helps attract those who otherwise would drink elsewhere.
To reiterate, the teams are for-profit entities which go by the mantra that they provide “local, affordable, family-friendly entertainment.” The problem is that they need to offer more than just that in today’s climate, especially at the lower levels of independent pro leagues. Obviously, certain independent teams draw fantastic crowds and have beautiful new stadiums with apparently loyal fan bases. Even in those cases, being “local, affordable, family-friendly entertainment” is no longer sufficient in today’s climate in order to build a financial cushion.
These operations, due to today’s climate, must grow past that limiting belief of being “just local” and recognize how much more profit can be had from people across North America. Ideally, the profits will be used to hire more and/or better talent, better marketers, and otherwise invest in strategies which both add value for fans and that rapidly increase the operations’ rates-of-return. Assuming that the owners’ motives are purely selfish ones to turn a handsome profit and then sell the team for a multiple of earnings (which is fine as these teams are not under any mandate to exist in the first place), doing things the right way should increase the odds of the owners getting a significant profit both in the near-term and when it is time to sell.
All of this is being posted because IndependentBaseball.net has had private discussions with team GM’s, league commissioners, and team owners throughout the independent leagues. Many of the executives are not aware of these revenue streams or do not understand that their stadiums, websites, social media properties, intellectual property and fans lend themselves to new revenues for the teams. By enhancing this awareness, independent pro baseball can take advantage of its “independence” and generate true value for fans across the country, raise the caliber of play, add profitability in new ways AND begin to increase its baseline attendance figures for those operators who only understand “butts in seats” and nothing else.
Again, this website wants to contribute to the growth of the independent baseball industry and opportunities for overlooked players and front office talent to have long careers AND grow pro baseball in North America. With a decline in fans and participants to other pro and collegiate sports, so much opportunity exists which the other professional and collegiate baseball leagues are not filling. Independent baseball, by its very nature and founding, has the flexibility and opportunity to attract new fans who actually care about the teams and leagues because the teams can show that they address needs the fans have which are unmet elsewhere. That’s good business sense in any industry, and we will continue to offer strategies for teams and leagues to meet these objectives.
There are several good books about the independent professional baseball leagues. You are welcome to see a list of suggestions through this link: Books Get notified of upcoming independent baseball tryouts from either of these services: first service or the second service. Prospective players can find some helpful resources here We will be providing a growing list of possibly helpful tips and suggestions on various baseball information. This will range from "how to" information about baseball skills all the way to helpful information for casual baseball fans. Please click the link for more information: Tips And How To Information