Washington Wild Things Discuss Decreasing Attendance

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In keeping with yesterday’s blog post theme of improving profitability for independent baseball teams struggling with attendance and, likely, declining profitability a recent article came out of western Pennsylvania about declining attendance for the Washington Wild Things (Frontier League).  Here is the article:


Of interest are some of the quotes from ownership:

  • “My strongest sense of the big picture problem is the economy,” Mr. Williams said. “People don’t have the discretionary dollars right now.”
  • “We don’t compete with the Pirates. They don’t compete with us. At least it’s the way we view the relationship,” Mr. Williams said. “We are entertainment and we are competing to some degree with restaurants, movie theaters and other options people have.”
  • “I just can’t count on any revenue coming out of that situation. I’ve got to think about it but plan as if it doesn’t exist,” he said. “I’m approaching it as if and when it happens.” — this is a reply to the possibility of nearby drilling revenues (mentioned below and in the article)

The article also cites these recent actions:

  • sinking a significant amount of money into a video scoreboard
  • they discuss the possibility that mineral rights and drilling on the land just past the stadium walls may bring in the needed revenue/profitability
  • A night of concerts dubbed “Hillbilly State of Mind Tailgate Party” is scheduled for later this summer.  “The more bizarre, the better,” team spokeswoman Chris Blaine said. “They did a diagnostic last year. In essence they told us our show was tired. The people had lost their zest. And it has to be more than a baseball game.”

It is great that the team publicly acknowledges that things aren’t going well and that they are going to try to improve the situation.  Wacky promotions, however, are not the first place to start — although it may be the easiest place to start because they can be dreamed up in the front office over a conference table.  There are several aspects which will be touched briefly, and any independent baseball team (not just the Wild Things) are welcome to contact this site for more information on what can be done to enhance profitability.  Here are some of the “bird’s eye view” topics:

  • Attendance #1:  this is the easiest to start because an owner or GM physically can see if there are more fans in the stands than the previous game.  Everyone knows the difference between a packed stadium and one where the crickets won’t even show up.  So how is this done?  The question is if the team is doing everything it can to post its schedule everywhere it can online AND in those places which further syndicate the schedule content.  There are free websites which will rank well in the search engines for events in one’s area, and they further spread the word to their subscribers and other websites needing the content.  This means that people can be reminded about games that week when they otherwise would have forgotten in their busy lives
  • Attendance # 2:  It is about time that teams get past being JUST about “family-friendly entertainment”.  If a team is struggling at the gate, it must reach out to new audiences.  Being “family-friendly” usually means targeting families with kids ages 3 to 13 for the majority of their efforts.  High school kids out on summer break, singles in their 20’s, seniors, business executives, and others know that they are not the primary audience.  Yet these demographic groups have disposable income and need to be entertained locally as well.  Teams need to give these groups the humor, promotions, and personal touch that they want in order to get some sort of emotional investment in the team.
  • Social Media:  It is amazing how poorly the teams are monetizing their social media efforts.  When fans walk into the stands they should be given every opportunity to join the team’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media properties (including any local-oriented social media).  From there, teams need to ADD VALUE to these properties.  Don’t just blast out scores, updates, and ticket or t-shirt specials as 90% of your content on these channels.  Teams need to update these channels with helpful/funny/unique content which has easy-to-generate revenue streams attached AND such content must be good enough for a fan to forward/share/Like/re-tweet on a consistent basis.  Otherwise it is not SOCIAL behavior on a social media channel.
  • Helpful content:  the teams usually put on one or more clinics each year for kids in the community.  Where is the video content from these clinics?!?  Why is this information not on YouTube/Google which can be given away, for free, to increase the team’s mailing list?  So much can be done with this and it is one of the most blatant areas of wasted revenue potential — yes, even if a team gives away content for free.
  • The team’s newsletter:  Most teams have a newsletter which has minimal revenue-generating power.  Therefore they fail to make increasing the mailing list a priority.  At every chamber of commerce event, local community appearance, or off-season presentation the goal should be to get people on the e-mail list and/or social media channels.  This way people who NEVER show up in your stadium can be the recipients of content which is compelling enough for them to pay attention… and which can put pure profit in the teams’ pockets.
  • Monetizing history:  Sites exist right now to help teams put money in their pockets every day by monetizing the history of independent baseball and, later on, for baseball in general.  This is just one of many free ways to monetize a team’s e-mail list and social media channels on a consistent basis, including during the off-season.
  • The team’s website:  Each team’s website has a significant amount of “authority” in the search engines for local search queries.  Teams are sitting on a potentially huge amount of untapped revenues by giving people in their local markets by being at the top of the search engines for phrases people are entering.  These new visitors can make money for the team by clicking specific types of links (meeting THEIR needs) even if they hate all sports, not just baseball!

Many more of these big picture topics will be mentioned in the upcoming weeks, but teams and leagues need to know how much potential they already have in their enterprises without realizing it.  Feel free to leave your thoughts on this subject.

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