Tag Archive | "Fan Experience"

Fox Sports Girls Bring Life To Network Launch

There’s a new sheriff coming to town in the 24-hour sports network business, and Fox Sports is taking quite a swing to get it off the ground. Fox Sports 1 is being positioned to make an immediate impact in all areas of sports broadcasting, as well as taking the fan experience in brand new direction as well.

August 11, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA;  Fox Sports robot at Busch Stadium.

As a part of the nationwide launch, the network as literally taken to the streets all across the country, and in an impressive style. The Fox Sports Girls from across the entire country have come together to promote the new network, via a 45-foot long, 56 passenger bus, and are leaving no stone untouched along the way.

To properly spread the word, they are taking a cross-country, 3,800 mile, 13-day express bus trip, from San Diego to Boston, where they will ring in the August 17th network launch at the upcoming UFC fight night, as well as a New England Patriots preseason NFL game. With stops all along the Fox Sports network, including cities such as Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Detroit and Cincinnati, the Girls are an impressive welcoming party for getting the word out on Fox Sports 1, which will launch in place of the Speed Network on most St. Louis-area cable plans. As they have gone across the country, they have picked up both momentum, and more of the Girls, along the way.

And while the Girls themselves are the main attraction along the trip, they are far from the only scene-stealers on the site. That honor would go to Cleatus, the long-time face of Fox Sports who has come off the screen and is very lifelike now. Standing at 6’9 and complete interactive, the network’s mascot is a sight to behold and is “muscle” for both the Girls and the network alike.

In all, 21 Fox Sports Girls will be represented by the time the tour hits Boston this weekend. Along the way, they have had variety of different experiences, with variety including a recent stop in St. Louis to take in a Cardinals/Cubs game, followed immediately by a shift to Kentucky, where they spread some cheer with the troops at Fort Campbell Military Base, as well as got down and dirty with a little basic training as well. “They are going to put us through PT and kick our butts a little bit”, says Teryn, who represents locally for Fox Sports Midwest.

Spirits are high for the activities; however they are far from just a bunch of pretty faces. In just a few minutes with them, you can find that these are real sports fans. Teryn was plenty excited to discuss Allen Craig’s season for the Cardinals, while ribs were exchanged over the Astros and Angels between American League West rivals in Asha and Kaime of Fox Sports West and Southwest, respectively. The stop in St. Louis was a first for many of fan ambassadors, and the excitement in the air for the Cardinals/Cubs matchup was not lost on them. “I’ve heard about all of the great fans here, and there’s nothing like seeing this rivalry up close”, says Kaime.

Yet don’t be fooled by the looks and sports talk either, they are also well versed in what is to come from the new network, and why fans should get excited about what’s coming to them soon. “‘Fans First’ is the big theme behind it all”, stresses Kaime. “We are the fans connections to our individual networks, so it’s great to get out and see the fans because sports wouldn’t be the same without them.” And by the indications of the network, fan familiarity will happen quickly.

Along with a 24-hour sports slate, there will be original programming such as Fox Sports Live, that is set to feature analysis from Donovan McNabb, Gary Payton and Andy Roddick among others, as well as personalities such as Erin Andrews. Long-time television staple Regis Philbin will be featured as well on “The Crowd Goes Wild”, a program that will blend his unique combination of first-hand experience and knowledge.

Fox Sports 1 is showing a promising package out of the gate, and what is being promised both immediately and in the future proves this is only the beginning. “From the start, there will be live sports as well. We will have college football and basketball, MLB, soccar and Nextel Cup racing”, Jordana of Fox Sports Florida explained. “And we will have the US Open (PGA) in 2015, so that’s something to look forward to.”

And as for the girls, the trip, while sometimes grueling, has been an exhilarating mix of work, travel and friends. “With the group of girls we are lucky enough to have, it’s made everything we do so much easier”, explains Asha. “We’ve gotten to see so many things, and bringing the network directly to the fans has been great.”

 

Fox Sports 1 launches this Saturday, August 17th. Check local listings for availability.

You can find more about Fox Sports 1 at FoxSports.com. To follow the rest of the bust tour, follow Fox Sports Girls on Twitter at @FoxSportsGirls and on Facebook at Fox Sports Girls. Locally, Kayla and Teryn of Fox Sports Midwest can be found on Twitter at @FSMidwestGirls and Facebook at Fox Sports Midwest Girls.

 

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Cardinals And Rawlings Launch “Varsity Club”

The St. Louis Cardinals and Ralwings Sporting Goods team up to launch “Varsity Club”
Exclusive fan club for teenagers is first-of-its-kind amongst MLB teams

CardsHeader

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (February 7, 2013) – The St. Louis Cardinals today announced an expanded partnership with St. Louis‐based Rawlings Sporting Goods to benefit area youth. Through the partnership with Rawlings, the team is launching the Cardinals Varsity Club presented by Rawlings, a membership-based program exclusive to teenagers and young adults in Cardinal Nation.

“Rawlings stepped up to the plate when we launched Redbird Rookies in 2004 and they have been an outstanding partner,” said Michael Hall, Vice President of Cardinals Care and Community Relations. “We are very excited about this new venture and we look forward to sharing Cardinal baseball with more kids in our community.”

The membership-based fan club is exclusive to teens and young adults, ages 14-19, and offers a personalized fan experience for the age group. Although many teams have fan clubs, the Rawlings Varsity Club is considered to be the first-of-its-kind for the teen demographic among major domestic professional sports leagues. The $35 membership includes a ticket voucher for two tickets to a 2013 Cardinals home game, two exclusive promotional items – Varsity Club backpack and Cardinals flat bill cap – a Cardinals coupon book, two issues of Cardinals Magazine and more. The year-long Varsity Club membership culminates with Rawlings Varsity Club Day at the Ballpark on Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Members will receive two tickets to the game, early access to the ballpark for a program featuring Cardinals front office executives, Rawlings representatives and Cardinals players, and the opportunity to parade around the warning track pre-game. Fans can visit cardinals.com/varsity to obtain more information or to register for the 2013 season.

“The Rawlings Varsity Club membership program is a natural progression of our continuously-expanding partnership with the Cardinals,” said Kurt Hunzeker, senior director of brand marketing for Rawlings. “This first-of-its-kind sponsorship platform allows us to better connect and engage with our core target market, offer exclusive product discounts and tailor unique experiences as they progress in their playing careers and fan avidity for the Cardinals.”

In addition to the Varsity Club sponsorship, Rawlings renewed its presenting sponsorship of the Cardinals Kids Club (formerly the Cardinals Crew Kids Club) in an effort to grow with young Cardinals’ fans and fortify its commitment to enabling baseball in the St. Louis community. The Kids Club, for fans ages 15 and under, is in its 13th year and this season features Jon Jay as its official spokesman. This marks the third year that Rawlings will participate as the lead sponsor of the Kids Club in which 7,300 kids took part in 2012.

Membership for the Cardinals Kids Club presented by Rawlings is $25 and includes two Cardinals tickets, a Cardinals drawstring bag designed to look like Jon Jay’s new 2013 “St. Louis” home alternate jersey, a stylish pair of headphones, a Cardinal-themed lunch bag, a new 2013 Cardinals Kids Club lapel pin, membership card and lanyard, as well as an invitation to an exclusive member’s only party at Busch Stadium featuring autographs, food, fun, Fredbird and more. Fans can renew or purchase memberships and obtain more information at cardinals.com/kidsclub, or call the Cardinals Kids Club hotline at314.345.9888.

In addition, the Rawlings Replay equipment trade-in program will continue as part of these sponsorships, which has outfitted more than 8,000 Redbird Rookies players since its origin in 2011. Rawlings is the Official Batting Helmet and Ball Supplier of Major League Baseball.

Since its inception in 1997, Cardinals Care has invested nearly $18 million in helping children, including providing nearly $11 million in grants to over 800 non-profit youth organizations, and building 19 youth ball fields in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Missouri and Illinois. For nearly a decade, Cardinals Care has run the innovative Redbird Rookies program, a free baseball league for kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity to play. In addition to providing all the uniforms, gloves, bats, balls and other equipment needed for each team, Redbird Rookies also provides extensive off-field support in the areas of health, education, mentoring and the cultural arts for each of the nearly 4,500 kids who participate in the program each year. Cardinals Care has distributed more than $16 million to area children’s organizations. To learn more about all of Cardinals Care’s programs visit cardinals.com/community.

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Memphis’ Weiss Named Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year

Memphis’ Weiss Named Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year
Ben Weiss chosen by colleagues to receive award

MEMPHIS, TN –Memphis Redbirds General Manager, Ben Weiss, has been named Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year. The award is voted on by other Pacific Coast League General Managers.

“This comes as no surprise to those of us who watch Ben in operation”, said Ray Pohlman, President of the Memphis Redbirds Foundation.  “Ben brings great energy and commitment to our enterprise and we are proud to join his colleagues in recognizing his leadership and accomplishments.”

Weiss, 35, was named General Manager in August of 2009. This past season showed an increase in ticket sales for the second straight year. He has shown a strong focus on the fan experience. This season, the Redbirds introduced an increase in premium giveaways and events including an Elvis® bobblehead, St Louis Cardinals World Series replica ring and two World Series Trophy appearances. Weiss also played an integral part in the process to install the largest videoboard in Minor League Baseball during the winter of 2012.

Prior to his move to Memphis, Ben was an Event Manager and Assistant General Manager at the Global Spectrum managed Sun National Bank Center. In 2007, he was promoted to General Manager at the Mullins Center on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, MA. He was named to Billboard’s “Top 30 Under 30” list for the sports and entertainment industry in 2007.

“Ben has done a tremendous job of creating an outstanding fan experience, enhancing the team’s community presence, and leading our efforts in Memphis,” said Global Spectrum Chief Operating Officer John Page. “We are particularly proud of Ben and his entire staff. This is a most-deserving honor.”

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award.  This recognition is a result of all the hard work and dedication put forth by our staff,” said Weiss. “I consider myself very lucky to work with the best front office in minor league baseball.”

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Searching for meaning

The Kansas City Royals started their Cactus League schedule on Sunday with a 6-1 win over their campus mate Texas Rangers. A win as a good way to start the exhibition season, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that having any type baseball broadcast over any medium was a cause for celebration. I’m also confident that by the second game on Monday afternoon I was not the only person trying to figure if any of the individual player performances in these games mean anything.

As much as I’d like to tell myself that a 4-3 record for the Royals at this point in spring training is a good omen. Baseball fan experience tells me it doesn’t mean a whole lot. They do not give out Cactus League Championship rings. They don’t hang Cactus League Championship Banners at Kauffman Stadium, and if they do print Cactus League Championship t-shirts no one should wear them. In fact, the phrase “Cactus League Champion” is so irrelevant that a Google search only brings up four returns, and one of those was from the Royals Review message board.

The Royals have won the Cactus League twice since I’ve been paying close enough attention to notice these things. In 2006 the Royals won the Cactus League and proceeded to lose 100 games during the season. Last year the Royals won the Cactus League and only won 71 games. While it’s good to not look terrible in spring training, winning a lot of games during spring training doesn’t mean that much.

Spring Training is about established major leaguers getting their work in, deciding some position battles, and fringe players catching on with an organization. I have some interest in these battles, but not a whole lot. Other than hoping prospects live up to their potential I’m more concerned that the Royals break camp healthy, and the young players continue their improvement. Only way to improve is to get reps in major league situations. As I fan I don’t have much involvement in that. Nor do I really have any favorites to make the team, just as long as the best players break camp.

Outside of position battles is there any meaning in spring training? Only baseball for baseball’s sake. It’s been a long winter and it’s nice to have any baseball. This is my first spring training with access to MLB Network, and the MLBatBat App on my phone. My access to baseball has never been better. Not only is fan access better, during March the inventory of baseball is greater than during the regular season. With split squad contests, there are 18 games on the schedule today. During the regular season there can only be 15. I guess spring training is a lot like spring break. Don’t look for meaning, just enjoy the experience.

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Omaha’s Cordaro Voted PCL Executive of the Year

Cordaro Voted PCL Executive of the Year
Storm Chasers Vice President/General Manager honored by peers

OMAHA, Neb. — Omaha Storm Chasers Vice President/General Manager Martie Cordaro has been named the Pacific Coast League’s Executive of the Year, the league office and Storm Chasers announced Friday. This is Cordaro’s second honor of 2011, after previously being named with President Alan Stein as Ballpark Digest’s Co-Executives of the Year.

Martie Cordaro

Stein offered glowing praise for his colleague, with whom he has developed close relationship over the past seven years in Omaha as well as Battle Creek, Michigan.

“In a word, Martie Cordaro is the best,” Stein said. “His absolute commitment to excellence, to the fan experience and to giving back to the community are the hallmarks of his way of doing business. Martie’s integrity and leadership of his team set him apart. We are incredibly proud of his accomplishments and are honored to have him on our team.”

Cordaro, completing his fourth full season as GM and fifth as a member of the Omaha front office, ushered in a number of successful ventures this season including the completion and opening of brand-new Werner Park and the highly-successful re-branding of the Omaha Storm Chasers.

He has piloted the franchise to its highest revenues in team history each of the past three seasons and has helped the club to its sixth-straight year of increased attendance. He ushered in the 12-millionth fan in team history on August 5, and the 410,326 fans that passed through the Werner Park turnstiles during the 2011 regular season were the most since 2000.

“I am humbled to win this award, particularly because it was decided by a vote of my peers in the PCL,” Cordaro said. “This is another example of the effort and results that our organization and staff have put forth the past four years.

In addition to his PCL and Ballpark Digest Executive of the Year awards, Cordaro has been honored in the past by the Kansas City Royals as its 2009 Matt Minker Award winner, given to an outstanding minor league-affiliate employee. He was also recognized as one of the Midlands Business Journal’s “40 under 40” for 2009 and by the Omaha Suburban Newspapers as an “Under 40” winner in 2011.

A 38-year-old Ruston, La., native and Louisiana Tech graduate, Cordaro becomes the fourth Executive of the Year winner in the 43-year history of the Omaha franchise. He joins Bob Quinn (1969), Bill Gorman (1981, ’95) and Gus Cherry (1990) – all of the Triple-A American Association – as winners of the award.

Cordaro worked in the front offices of the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, Birmingham Barons and Southwest Michigan Devil Rays prior to joining the Omaha franchise. Martie and his wife Sara have three sons, Gavin, Collin and Cass.

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Fans And Players Like Text Chats

CARDINALS TEXT CHATS PROVE POPULAR WITH FANS
U.S. CELLULAR® SPONSORED PROGRAM PROVIDES FANS INSIDE ACCESS TO CLUB

ST. LOUIS, August 30, 2011 – The St. Louis Cardinals’ new Cardinals Text Chats presented by U.S. Cellular® has been very popular with fans, with hundreds taking part in the initial two text chats with Skip Schumaker and Kyle McClellan. The promotion provides fans with the unique opportunity to find out what goes on behind the scenes in the Cardinals clubhouse, directly from the players themselves, in a series of personal, one-hour text chats. The players have also enjoyed interacting directly with the fans.

“I thought it was a good way to connect with the fans on a more personal level, which you don’t get to do at a normal signing,” said Skip Schumaker, the Cardinals second baseman. “My favorite question was what would I do if there was no Velcro on my batting gloves? I thought that was pretty funny.”

The Cardinals and U.S. Cellular teamed up with Vibes, a mobile marketing and technology company, to create a mobile marketing campaign that engaged fans by allowing them to stay connected with the club via their mobile phones. The Vibes platform enables Cardinals players to view and respond via SMS to questions texted in by fans. Participants are automatically subscribed to an alert program that sends weekly reminders of chat times with players.

To participate in the Cardinals Text Chats, fans can text “CHAT” to 96259 to chat with their favorite Cardinals players and personnel on select Fridays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The upcoming text chats will feature Lance Berkman, David Freese and Cardinals General Manager, John Mozeliak. For a complete list of the upcoming text chats, fans can go to www.cardinals.com/uscellular.

“The Cardinals Text Chats are another way U.S. Cellular is enhancing the fan experience by letting the fans talk directly to some of players and the General Manager to get the inside scoop on what’s happening inside Cardinal Nation,” said Michelle Groves, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in the St. Louis area. “The company’s support of the Cardinals and their fans is one of the reasons U.S. Cellular has the happiest customers in wireless.”

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Opening Day 1998

This is one of my favorite stories ever.

There is NO tradition quite like Opening Day in St. Louis. None. If you’ve never been in the ballpark for this St. Louis holiday, it’s like missing the orange pie from your trivial pursuit gamepiece–you simply can’t have the complete “Cardinals fan” experience without it. Opening Day is my Christmas…I’m like a kid that just can-not-fall-asleep on Christmas Eve, overtaken with excitement for what I know is in store the next day–the begining of a new baseball season!

I’ve been to several throughout the years, including memorable ones like the opening of new (current) Busch stadium in 2006. Pujols received his MVP award, Carpenter received his Cy Young award, and they both throw out ceremonial first pitches to Bob Gibson & Bruce Sutter to christen the brand new ballpark. The Cardinals won behind Mark Mulder, and I’m there with my brother to open what would be a World Championship season–it really doesn’t get much better than that.

But, perhaps my most memorable Opening Day of all time was 1998. And by “most memorable” I mean that many of the details are fuzzy now, but the important things are crystal clear. The weather was beautiful, especially for the rare March Home Opener, and my buddy Mike had 4 tickets to opening day, section 254-ish, in hand. It was Mike, his brother Steve, myself and one other guy. The fourth guy, who I always mis-remember as Stu, had to work that morning, and didn’t get off work until 1:00. The plan was for Mike, Steve & I to head downtown, and drop Steve off. He was going to meet up with a couple other guys, be there when the gates opened…etc. Meanwhile, Mike & I were supposed to meet “Stu” at a gas station roughly halfway between the ballpark and Stu’s house at 1:30. Stu was going to leave his car there, and ride with Mike & I to the game. Afterwards all four of us would ride home together, drop Stu off at his car, and go on about our day.

The first part of the plan went fine. I drove to Mike & Steve’s house, we grabbed the envelope with the tickets in it, hopped in the car, and off we went. Any radio station in St. Louis worth its salt was doing a live remote from Kiener plaza, broadcasting the pre-game Opening Day festivities, and we listened in the whole way there. Finally, we turned down 7th street, and stopped at the ballpark to let Steve out. He grabbed his ticket from the envelope, and then quickly faded into the sea of red surrounding the stadium. Without so much as putting the car in “park”, Mike & I turned down a couple of one-way streets, crossed a bridge, and were headed to meet Stu at the gas station.

So, we’re driving along our merry way, on IL route 3 at about 65 mph, in the best of moods, as a new season was less than two hours from starting! As I mentioned, it was a beautiful day, probably near 60 degrees. The sun was shining, and amidst the radio scanning, we’d come across Fogerty’s classic, Centerfield. Naturally, the radio went up, the windows went down, and with all that newfound breeze in the car, the envelope with the tickets went right out the window! But if you think that’s unbelievable, let me break down the next 6 seconds or so in slow motion…

As we’re driving along, without warning and with ninja-like quickness, Mike’s left arm goes flying out the window, reaching behind him, in the direction of the gas tank. This totally caught me by surprise, and I had no idea what would posses him to just throw his arm out the window while speeding down the road. I look over, and as he slowly brings his hand back toward the front of the vehicle, I see what’s in his hand: the envelope that (at least at one point in the day) had the tickets in it. From the passenger seat, I can see only his thumb on the near side of the envelope. What I know for sure is that his four fingers are on the other side of that envelope. What neither one of us know is: the location of the 3 tickets we’re supposed to have. He turns his hand over, and reveals (to us both) his four fingers, and half as many tickets…on the OUTSIDE of the envelope. I kid you not. While driving 65 mph down the road with the radio up & the windows down, the tickets (along with the envelope that formerly housed them) flew out the window, but Mike reached out & caught the envelope and two of the three tickets.

I swear to you, that happened.

As soon as possible, we pulled over and searched the entire car for the third ticket…which, we didn’t find–it was gone. So, here we are, a few miles from the gas station, where Stu is expecting to meet us in five or ten minutes so he can get his ticket and head to Opening Day with us. Two problems now exist: First (and most obvious), we only have two tickets. By the way, I think it’s worth noting at this point in the story that I reached into my wallet and paid Mike for my ticket right there on the spot. I then asked him if Stu had paid him for his ticket yet–mama didn’t raise no fool! Second: There is NO WAY we can tell Stu the truth in this situation. “Yeah, Stu. We were driving down the road with the windows down when the tickets flew out the window. Fortunately, Mike was able to reach out the window and catch two of the three tickets. Sorry ‘bout your luck, man.”

Let me just say two quick things about my buddy Mike. Luck like this is really par for his course. This guy could fall out of a 12-story window, land in a pile of horse manuer, and not only escape uninjured and smelling like a rose–he’d find a hundred dollar bill in the pile. That’s just how this guy’s luck is. And yes, he regularly makes a few (profitable) trips to Vegas each year. The other thing about Mike is that he’s very, um, creative. If you’re in need of a good story, he’s your man. I’ll leave it at that.

Bear in mind, this was 1998. More people had pagers than cellphones, and few had either. We couldn’t just text Stu, “Something came up, no tix 4 U. Will explain more L8r-Sorry, kthxbai”, we had to meet him. A few minutes later, we pulled in to the gas station where Stu was already waiting for us. I sunk down into the passenger seat, pulled my cap down low over my eyes & face, and let Mike walk over to Stu’s truck & break the news. To this day, I still have no idea what was said. All I know is that Mike came back to the car, we headed downtown and met up with Steve, and even got back in time to get our schedule magnets for the fridge.

The only thing I remember from the actual game is that McGwire came to bat in the home half of the 5th with the bases juiced (as well as other things), and hit a grand slam. I know it was a grand slam because of the sound of the ball coming off the bat, and the fireworks & the 4 on the scoreboard later. The ball went up & I was smothered in a bro hug until Mac rounded 3rd base in his first of 70 HR that season…I never saw it land.

So while Opening Day always bring about thoughts of what’s in store for the Cardinals that year, and hopeful optimism as I look towards the future, I always take a few minutes to remember the past. Happy Opening Day everyone…and to all a good night!

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