Ticket promotions help big league clubs draw in fans
Capital News Service (AP) — All eyes focused on the base path at Camden Yards, and nothing stood in HER way.
She rounded third, closing in on paydirt before finally crossing home plate as a trail of children followed in her wake while their parents cheered them on.
Anjuli Morales, 8, is no major leaguer — but she did get to act like one on Sunday after the Orioles-Red Sox game, thanks to a Kids Run the Bases promotion offered by the Baltimore Orioles.
The promotion is offered after every Sunday home game to children 14 and younger.
Kids Run the Bases is one of a host of promotions used by the Baltimore Orioles — and other major league baseball teams — to draw in fans.
Over the past three seasons, the Orioles have averaged between 8,000 and 12,000 more people during games with promotions than without. A significant number of the around 30 promotional games each season come during the weekend.
Anjuli’s father, Robert Morales, said that the promotion was not the only reason they came to the game, but the younger Morales was quick to disagree.
“It’s fun because you get to actually see and you can tell how it feels to be a baseball player,” she told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.
Her father contended they came because it was a game on the list for the Orioles Dugout Club — a group for young fans.
Mary and Larry Nace, Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, natives, also came because of the Dugout Club, but they did say that Kids Run the Bases had an impact.
Their son, Nickolas, 7, who wore a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sweatshirt, had never run the bases and was excited to step onto the diamond.
“It think (it was successful),” Larry Nace said. “The line’s enormous.”
“It would be nice to see more events like (this),” Mary added.
P.K. Kannan, a professor of marketing science at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, said ticket promotions are an example of a commonplace marketing strategy by businesses.
The idea behind ticket promotions is that teams must spend money — an acquisition cost — in order to draw in fans. This practice gives fans an incentive to enter into a relationship with a team, Kannan said.
The goal of the practice is to convert these new attendees into regulars, he added.
An example of this practice would be promotion pricing for new customers, offered by companies such as Uber.
“Not everyone will come back, but maybe a percentage will become regulars,” Kannan said.
On the other hand, fans say that promotions are not always the only reason they go to games — but they do have some impact.
Jenn Buckley and Spencer Cooper — two fans at the Orioles-Red Sox game — said that while promotions would not be the only reason they went, if there were multiple games and only one had a promotion they would “absolutely” go to that one.
At the game, Cooper wore Buckley’s Orioles Hawaiian shirt — a popular promotional item from a few seasons ago.
″(I) went for the shirt, (but it was) also the O’s-(Nationals) game,” Buckley said.
The game was one of two with a promotion during the three-game weekend series in July 2015. Both games with promotions saw nearly 2,000 more people attend than those without.
Over the past three seasons, weekend games — meaning Friday, Saturday and Sunday — with promotions had, on average, between 1,500 and 5,000 more people in attendance than those without.
A 2012 article analyzing attendance for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2010 season in the Sports Business Journal by Wayne DeSarbo, a marketing professor at Penn State University, found that while promotions are not guaranteed to cause above-average attendance, every game with above-average attendance had a promotion.
The promotions that had the highest impact on attendance included those with specific giveaways — such as a bobblehead — or games with a concert or fireworks afterward, DeSarbo wrote.
Promotions are never the only factor in who attends a game. Other factors include weather, team performance and the opponent, DeSarbo said.
According to DeSarbo, a key factor in the need for promotions is the specific team’s success rate. Team’s are likely to need more promotions when they are unlikely to compete for a World Series, he said.
″(They) get people to attend for other reasons beyond seeing the home team win,” DeSarbo told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.
When teams are less competitive, it becomes “a matter of family entertainment,” he added.
“Where you don’t see the need for such expense is when you have a shot of going all the way,” DeSarbo said.
Teams also look to diversify the types of promotions they offer.
“When planning a promotional calendar, we are always looking to appeal to a diverse fan base,” Greg Bader, Orioles vice president for communications and marketing, said in a statement through a team spokeswoman. “Sundays are designed to be a ‘family fun day’ at the ballpark. Kids Run the Bases after every Sunday game and we direct some of our ‘kids only’ promotions to those games.”
Prior to the 2016 season, Kids Run the Bases was not a promotion for every Sunday home game.
Other promotions are “designed to reach a wide audience” by giving something to each fan who attends a game, he said. These items include items like bobbleheads or the Hawaiian shirt given away in 2015.