Another award to report: The Charleston RiverDogs (Low Class A; Sally League) were named the recipient of the 48th annual Larry MacPhail Award for the top promotional effort in Minor League Baseball.
The RiverDogs will receive their award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Dec. 12.
This season Charleston added to its already packed promotional schedule and ballpark experience with several additions which contributed to double digit increases in both overall (11.5 percent) and average (13.2 percent) attendance, compared to 2012. The South Atlantic League club introduced several new menu items, including three flavors of beer shakes, a Wacko Taco Stand with locally grown farm fresh vegetables, gluten-free beer and snacks and a peanut butter and jelly jalapeno bacon burger.
The club’s “Healthy Challenge Tuesday” promotion included elements about living a healthier lifestyle. The RiverDogs teamed up with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Wellness Center and created a new line of healthy concessions options available throughout the season, many made from crops grown on the MUSC Urban Farm located in downtown Charleston. Each Tuesday game featured a different item from these new healthy selections and the item was offered to fans at a discounted rate.
The between-innings promotions on Tuesdays were health and fitness oriented. MUSC Wellness staff members were featured on the video board providing quick, simple, healthy lifestyle choices, ranging from exercise activities to snack options to general healthy lifestyle tips. The promotion also featured a weight loss challenge for fans where they could register and then weigh in at the beginning of the season. The top three fans who had lost the most weight at the end of the season received prizes, including a pair of 2014 RiverDogs season tickets to the overall winner.
Another new promotion in 2013 was The RiverDogs Dance Crew, which was open to all performers ages 6-12. Members practiced at a local dance studio on the days they were to perform prior to and during select RiverDogs games at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
A new RiverDogs jingle was developed and utilized in-stadium and in radio and TV advertisements. Additionally, RiverDogs co-owner Bill Murray’s South Atlantic League Hall of Fame induction speech was used as the cornerstone for the club’s early season TV commercials. Charleston is extremely active on social media, with more than 22,000 Facebook fans and 11,000 Twitter followers, as well as Pinterest, Instagram and Vine accounts to connect and hear feedback from their fans.
Charleston’s marketing slogan of “Be Your Own Fan” is based primarily on direct interaction with its fans. The RiverDogs listened to them and moved up the start time for their Saturday games one hour to 6:05 p.m.
All 10 of their Monday home games featured a local non-profit organization and a season ticket holder was featured at every home game. All Peninsula youth baseball teams were outfitted in RiverDogs T-shirts for their uniforms, saving the city parks and recreation department more than $10,000. A youth baseball T-shirt promotion allowed players to receive discounts by wearing the shirts to games.
Hope (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week involved Charleston players, coaches and front office staff participating in events throughout the Lowcountry to raise awareness for highlighted causes, individuals and organizations. In addition, a different non-profit organization and/or family received an once-in-a-lifetime experience of interaction with RiverDogs players and an evening of fun at a Charleston game.
Other community initiatives included the club’s signature charity, Kindness Beats Blindness, which benefits MUSC, Storm Eye Institute, and which has raised more than $250,000 over the past decade; Reading and Running With the RiverDogs, in which a staff member adopts a local third grade class; and the Charleston RBI Program, a local chapter of Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program.
Examples of off-season events are Charleston’s Monster Bash and a hot stove banquet. The Monster Bash was a Halloween-themed gathering at the ballpark which included, among its elements, free admission to anyone who donated blood to a local American Red Cross earlier that day and a costume contest. The annual hot stove banquet generates proceeds benefitting The Citadel, College of Charleston and Charleston Southern baseball programs, as well as the MUSC’s Storm Eye Institute.
“The Charleston RiverDogs have been one of the clubs at the forefront of creating and developing fun, new ways to promote themselves at their ballpark and in their community through such campaigns as ‘Be Your Own Fan’ and ‘Fun Is Good’,” said Pat O’Conner, President & CEO of Minor League Baseball. “Their involvement with the Charleston RBI Program and the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame are just two of the many ways that the RiverDogs also promote our great game in the South Carolina Lowcountry.”
“On behalf of the entire Charleston RiverDogs family, we are thrilled to receive this prestigious honor,” said Dave Echols, Executive Vice President & General Manager of the RiverDogs. “The MacPhail Award is one of the most recognizable awards bestowed in professional baseball. This citation is a credit to our ownership group – The Goldklang Group – whose guidance and direction are for us to make sure that our fans enjoy what has become the ‘RiverDogs experience.’ We accept this with great pride and humility, as we strive to share the philosophy of ‘Fun Is Good.’”
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