Feb. 12: Pitchers, catchers and numbers report

It’s Feb. 12, 2017, and Cleveland Indians pitchers and catchers are the first to report for Spring Training. (Do they still have Jake Taylor and Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn? If so, there’s probably a wacky first-day-in-camp montage happening RIGHT NOW.)

It’s also time to restart this sports promotions analysis blog, which has been dormant for nearly two years. The project started out with a simple question: Do gameday promotions pay for themselves? And if so, which ones?

If you’ve been in sports marketing and promotions for a while, you’ve seen the season ticket and group sales staff (rightfully) lauded for bringing in crowds, while the promotions efforts to bring in single-game sales have been (wrongfully) dismissed as untrackable.

But it IS trackable, if you have enough data. Do fireworks nights work better on Fridays or Saturdays? Which brings in bigger crowds: hat giveaways or jersey giveaways? And is it worth it to host a 2,500-item giveaway instead of a 2,000-item giveaway? We have a database of Minor League Baseball promotions dating back to 2014, comprising more than 6,000 games and tracking the effectiveness of several dozen categories of promotions (as of this post, we’re monitoring 93). We’re not stopping there — we’re adding in even more numbers from the 2017 season to see where fan interest is trending. And we’re bringing in data from hockey, soccer and basketball to create the most well-rounded promotions database ever.

This site is for all the sports promotions staffers who have ever wanted to justify their existence beyond a mention by the morning drive-time deejay. Some of the insights will be posted right here on the blog, with even more actionable data – and answers to your most burning questions – sent out to premium subscribers every week. Interested? Email brettmcginness@gmail.com. It’ll be the best investment you’ll make this year.

About us

Brett McGinness served as the director of marketing for Triple-A Baseball’s Reno Aces from 2008 through 2014, and also for the NBA D-League’s Reno Bighorns from 2009 through 2011. He also worked for the San Francisco Giants from 2001 through 2008, serving variously as market data analyst, sponsorship services coordinator, merchandise manager and promotions assistant. He currently works for the Reno Gazette-Journal as audience analyst.

Jim Fleming is a statistician with a master’s degree in econometrics from the University of Nevada. He served as financial engineer and financial data analyst for Moody’s Analytics, and as analyst for Wells Gaming Research. He also holds a B.S. in biology from the University of Notre Dame and completed Ph.D. coursework in molecular biology at Cornell. He currently works as an analyst and programmer for eTransmedia, a medical practice management company.

Schedule Heat Map: 2014 Triple-A Season

Tons of preliminary data to dump on the blog in advance of the 10/2/14 MiLB Promotional Seminar data presentation. I’ll be back later to make it pretty, I promise!

Short explanation: based on the normalized attendance data set from the 2014 Triple-A baseball schedule, here’s the heat map of dates from April 3 through September 1. Dates in green represent above-average attendances; dates in red represent below-average attendances; dates that appear white are basically average. The brighter the color, the more above/below average the date is.

April      May

June      July


The takeaways:

  • Why do we play games in April, again?
  • The only decently green dates in April are Opening Day and the following Friday, when teams who started the year on the road generally play their first home game.
  • The slightly-green Tuesday, May 13 is due to its frequent selection as an Education Day promotion, which generally draw thousands of schoolchildren.
  • The first time we see more than four above-average days in a row is the final week of the year, August 26-September 1. At this point, there is no “let’s catch a game sooner or later” for the fan base. If we could bottle up that sense of urgency and sprinkle it around to the rest of the schedule, we’d be set.
  • Monday, July 28 is pretty damn red. Monday, July 7 has an excuse… after a long holiday weekend, nobody’s looking around for fun outings except for those who were working through the holiday. July 28 is probably a beautiful night in most Triple-A host cities, and it’s understandably frustrating to look out on a sea of empty seats during what should be our biggest month of the year. Don’t despair. We’re all in the same boat.

And the biggest takeaway, in my opinion: Fridays and Saturdays are great days. Everyone loves to come to the ballpark. Look at all that green! Unless you’re selling out every Friday and Saturday, PUSH ONLY THOSE DATES.

This is going to feel weird and wrong. After all, we have somewhere between 30 and 72 home dates, and they’re all like our children, equally deserving of love and attention. But if we’re going to maximize profits, we need to Sophie’s Choice some of these dates. Fans love fireworks and giveaways and stress-free weekend baseball. Fans are less interested in your $2 Tuesday night nacho deals when they have work the next day. Save yourself the effort… shift your advertising/messaging dollars to Fridays and Saturdays, give emphasis to those dates in your e-newsletters, and let the Sunday-thru-Thursday games sink or swim on their own merits.

Days of the Week

Monday thru Wednesday, you’re on your own.