In this post, I will go over some points on how I would run a minor league baseball team based in Halifax. For the purposes of this post it doesn’t matter if we’re talking independent pro ball, collegiate summer league or even an affiliated minor league.
NAME: I would pick something with local connections, unique and kid/family friendly. This would make Halifax Privateers the perfect name. It’s local (Barrett’s Privateers), unique (University of New Orleans is the most prominent user of the nickname) and family friendly (kids love pirates). This would allow an easy task to come up with a mascot without using a cheesy nickname (like IronPigs, for example). The team logo/uniforms would likely include city colours in some form or another.
TICKETS: Most independent/summer league teams price their tickets in the $14-$16 range. I would keep it somewhere in this area. This would be comparable to a Mooseheads ticket, but lower than a Rainmen ticket. There would be some discounts for children, students, seniors and season ticket holders. An average ticket of $14 with a crowd of 3000 would net $42000 a game. In addition to season tickets, I would also offer a partial season ticket package that would cover roughly half of the team’s home schedule.
FOOD: I would have a signature hot dog (a la Fenway Frank and Dodger Dog) that would be available at the ballpark. I would also introduce some non-traditional ballpark foods for a healthy alternative to hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, etc. There are many Greek and Mediterranean restaurants in the city and that would be a good place to start. Also there would be a generous selection of beer as nothing goes better together like beer and baseball. I would keep the nautical theme by naming the food court something like “The Galley”.
BALLPARK: As much as I would love to have a downtown park, it isn’t going to happen, at least in the early stages of the team (the Wanderer’s or Commons softball field locations would be perfect, but would never happen in reality). The existing field at Mainland North Commons could be expanded to 4000 (or so). Other professional amenities would be clubhouses, concessions and press box. The location is probably the best outside of the downtown area as it’s near restaurants (Clayton Park & Bayer’s Lake), the highway (102), residents (many apartments, condos & houses within a couple of kilometres) and the new bus terminal.
ACCESS: Speaking of the bus terminal, I would try to work an agreement with Halifax Transit to have free/discounted fares for ticket holders to ride the bus to games. This would hopefully cut down on the need for parking near the ballpark. The CFL’s Ottawa RedBlacks have a similar program with transit in Ottawa.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Early in the season (before school gets out) I would have the players & coaches speaking to school groups (similar to what the Rainmen have done). This would get the word out about the team to the children. Also, I would work with local minor baseball. This could involve running baseball camps during the summer for local minor players and/or ticket discounts to local minor baseball organizations. To give exposure to local baseball teams, I would play doubleheaders with senior/junior/midget teams playing a curtain raiser prior to the pro game.
PROMOS: Promotions would depend on the sponsors of the team and what they are willing to give away/promote. There would also be some kind of promo around holidays during the season (Victoria Day, Father’s Day, Canada Day, Natal Day & Labour Day). I would also consider promos around other festivals in city (for example: the Tattoo, Buskers, Pride, Tall Ships, etc). The international/student population also offers promotional possibilities.
BROADCATING: It is important to broadcast the games as it provides fan (and potential fans) access to the product. If they are familiar with the product (team) hopefully it will convince them to show up at the ballpark. All games would be broadcast online and ideally on the radio as well. Also, I would try to get at least one game a week broadcast on TV (think QMJHL Friday Night Hockey but with baseball).
I am sure there are other aspects, but these the main ones I have thought of. If I think of more in the future, I am sure there’ll be a blog update. These ideas could be used to launch a successful minor league team in Halifax.