Friday, July 29, 2011

Cape League All-Star Game Fails to Attract Fenway Park Crowd

By Zach Baru

There was a lot of green at Fenway Park earlier tonight, green as in empty seats at the Cape Cod Baseball League All Star Game.  Before 7,007 on Friday night, the game was nothing but a marketing failure.  $10 ticket prices and partnering up with Comcast SportsNet were not enough to aid the game, which is becoming a staple at Fenway.  This is the third straight summer Fenway has hosted the game, and hopefully next year's attempt will have a better marketing plan.

Pricing tickets at $10 each was a modest approach.   But let's face it, with 30,000 empty seats, adding additional price levels would have been a better strategy.  Having tickets start at $5 would have attracted more fans, especially the family of four who doesn't exactly expect to drop $40 right off the bat at a Cape League All-Star game.  Additionally, having price levels at $10 and then $20 for the premium seats would have been acceptable.  This would have created the potential for additional revenue, while still keeping the prices at a reasonable level.

The upcoming Futures at Fenway minor league double-header will have tickets starting at just $5.  Why couldn't the Cape League do the same?  With the exception of a few instances, selling a seat for $5 is better than leaving the seat empty and not selling it at all.  Especially after lost concession and merchandise revenue from unsold seats.

Having live coverage on Comcast SportsNet was a great way to reach out to the entire region.  However not nearly enough advertisements were shown on CSN to get the word out.  Having such great media coverage for the game was an excellent opportunity for the Cape League, however they should have used the opportunity more to their advantage.

Aside from all of the failures of this game, just having the game at Fenway can certainly be looked at as a success.  And live regional television coverage is definitely something for the league to be proud of.  It is great that all of New England was able to catch a glimpse of the Cape League, which is of one of the region's finest traditions, and a staple to any summer in Massachusetts.  

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Monday, July 18, 2011

U.S. Women's World Cup Run Key For Boston Breakers' Success

By Zach Baru

With ticket sales booming after the U.S. Women's soccer team made their run to the FIFA World Cup final, the Boston Breakers find themselves in an interesting situation.  Women's soccer interest nationwide is the highest it's been since the 1999 World Cup win, and the Breakers must take advantage of all of the added attention to their sport.  With the unstable condition of their league, Women's Professional Soccer, this is certainly an important time for the Breakers franchise.

WPS, in it's third season, came close to canceling the 2011 season.  With only six teams competing this season, the league no longer has it's west coast franchises.  With the current state of the league, it is essential that the Breakers use this current boost in interest for women's soccer to their advantage.

So the question is, what has the Breakers' marketing done to capture this interest?  The answer is, unfortunately, nothing.  Plain and simple.  They have failed to put themselves in position to turn the increased interest into new fans.  This is sad news to not just Breakers fans, but Revolution fans as well.  Having attention to both the women's and the men's teams is important for creating a strong foundation for a soccer community.

What the Breakers need, starts and ends with the media.  Their media presence has certainly seen an increase from the World Cup, but it is still far from where it needs to be.  Team news, game recaps, and of course, game broadcasts, are no where near where they should be.

Without media attention, not only will people forget about the team, but more importantly, they will not believe the team is worth watching.  And this becomes an enormous problem for the Breakers.  Since a solid broadcasting contract does not happen overnight, this can certainly take a season or two to happen. However, in the short term, stronger media coverage can be accomplished.  Having the media mention upcoming games, scores, news and showing highlights is much needed.

During such an exciting time for women's soccer, the Breakers seemed to rely only on the efforts of fans themselves to join in.  The opportunity this World Cup provided was just too great to call the Breakers' efforts satisfying.  However, it is not too late.  The interest in women's soccer has peaked to a point where the Breakers must capitalize, and turn it into an interest of their own.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Slap Shots: Red Sox, Revolution, Breakers

By Zach Baru

International exhibition or not, it's nice to see a Revolution game at Gillette Stadium with over 50,000 fans.

Pack up, Cannons, and move back to Nickerson Field already.

Waiting for the day when arena football is played in the TD Garden.

It's time to have the commuter rail stop at Gillette for Revs games, getting more fans in the seats.

Hopefully the upcoming Deutsche Bank Championship can learn from the failures of last month's Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

NESN's Red Sox coverage has reached the point where on-screen advertisements intrude on the enjoyment of the game.

Ripple effect: Providence Bruins offering a "Champions 3 Pack".

Too bad the Breakers aren't marketing themselves to take advantage of the U.S. Women's World Cup success.

Patriot Place has become the model for making professional sports a "destination", and not an "attraction".

Do the Revolution need a new stadium, or just a new brand identity?

In tribute to Garry Brown.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Friday, July 1, 2011

What the Lockout Means for the Celtics Off the Court

By Zach Baru

With the National Basketball Association lockout in its first day, the Boston Celtics have found themselves in an extremely vulnerable situation.  If the NBA does indeed loose a partial or entire season, the Celtics will unfortunately have a few obstacles to face that other NBA teams will not have to worry about.  Blame the NBA, blame the NBA Players Association, but the truth is that this lockout just happened to hit the Celtics at the wrong time.

After the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup win, even if the Celtics do play some basketball this fall, they will see less headlines than last season.  There's no question that the region will have plenty of eyeballs on the Celtics, but the spotlight will not be as bright as last year.  This simply isn't the case in other NBA markets, as basketball often, but not always, beats hockey in popularity.  This can especially be seen in the south.  That is not to say this will happen in Boston all winter, but the Celtics might have to get use to seeing Bruins scores first.

Another headache for the Celtics is that nearly their entire image is marketed around the worldwide popular brand of the "Big Three".   The problem is that loosing an entire season could mean the end of that brand, if Kevin Garnett does not return.  And the way that he has been talking to the press since the start of last season's playoffs, this is looking more and more like a reality.  Can the Celtics brand survive with a loss like Garnett?

Celtics pride is undeniably here to stay, but if the lockout takes away a season, it easily could take away this chapter of the Celtics brand with it.  And a new marketing concept will be made.  We just may have seen the rise and fall of the promotion of the Big Three.   It has been quite a difference from the days of the '06-'07 season when the Garden was three-quarters full.  And that was on a good night.  What started with a press conference welcoming Garnett and Allen, became a national tour to sold-out arenas of fans just wanting to see those three players.

If a lockout does wipe-out the season, and Garnett does not return, it will be back to the drawing board for Celtics marketing.  They will need a new concept to brand, and a new image to capture.  Hopefully it will not come down to that.  Unfortunately, the reality is that the two sides between the owners and the players are no where near an agreement.  There is just too much money on the line, suggesting that this lockout could potentially go well into the winter, if not canceling the upcoming season.

And so the headaches continue for the Celtics.  With the Bruins winning their first Stanley Cup since 1972, and the future of the Big Three in doubt, there is no one to blame.  This lockout just happened to hit the Celtics at the wrong time.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at