You might have wondered how I could ignore the obvious click bait of weighing in on the El Paso Chihuahuas. But, I try to keep my life positive, so I didn’t want to get into it with you spoilsports. Especially with all the hurtful comments I’ve been reading on Facebook about Chihuahuas. My Chihuahua, Scamp, has been very hurt by it all.
So, instead, here is a guest post by Jason Stadel. Here are his thoughts on how the team should promote baseball in El Paso.
The wait is over. We now know the name of El Paso’s AAA team. And in the spirit of the Lakeland Flying Squirrels, Leigh Valley IronPigs, Montgomery Biscuits, El Paso will be known as the Chihuahuas. For those of us that have followed the AAA team relocating to El Paso, Chihuahuas was considered a dark horse. Sun Dogs and Desert Gators seemed to be the favorites. Either way, the name fits in with the tradition of quirky and odd mascots for Minor League Baseball teams.
When the name was announced the immediate reaction on social media was fairly negative (although, I don’t think you can judge the reaction of an entire city by Facebook. My belief is that many of those that are complaining likely wouldn’t have gone to many games anyway). However, even with the Facebook backlash, the team store downtown has had great sales and the online store has been active enough to post this message on their webpage: “Due to high demand, please allow 1-2 weeks for delivery.” People are buying the gear. Regardless of comments on Twitter and Facebook, people from across the country are also buying. San Diego Padres fans (El Paso’s parent team) have ordered gear too, according to, again, social media.
There are people getting behind this team.
I love baseball and was planning on going to the games no matter the mascot. But there are those that don’t seem too enticed to go. There are two things the Chihuahuas need to do to keep fans and to attract those that might be on the fence about going to a game, the first is easy, they need to win. No further explanation is needed. The second is, game-day promotions.
The El Paso team has started interacting with fans via social media by having fans send pictures of their pet chihuahuas to be posted on the club’s official Facebook page. It seems to have been a success so far.
Game-day promotions need to be special, fun and topical (and free stuff doesn’t hurt). Some are big and some are small. MiLB is all about wacky, and often odd, promotions. They need to be to set that team apart from the next.
There are the obvious promotions: $.25 hot dog night, first 3,000 fans get a foam finger (or baseball, or seated cushion, or bobblehead doll, etc.). These are great, and will attract fans. But, it’s the ones that will set El Paso apart that are the key.
Some are good, some are clever and some are outright dumb. Here are a few that have drawn attention in the past.
Not bad. Nice stunt to get people to the park. Fans need to be aware, often times there is a major catch to these promotions. It’s all in good fun.
From Real Clear Sports:
Hmmm…I’m sure this was popular. My wife would have loved it (although she probably would have been too embarrassed to take part). A promotion like this opens the doors to a different fan base.
Again, Real Clear Sports:
I didn’t really like this one the first time I read it. Apparently the team was embracing the low attendance. However, I added it because of the clever way the fans took part. The beer man signs are simple and ingenious at the same time.
Morbid? Yes. Creative? Absolutely. In the summer of 2013, Philadelphia Phillies AAA affiliate, the Leigh Valley IronPigs, offered a free funeral to a “lucky” fan. Contestants had to send a 200-word essay to the front office to be considered a “winner.” The IronPigs said the funeral was worth $10,000. From USA Today:
The winner was Steve Paul. Here is more from the IronPigs website:
That promotion, along with the debut of the world’s first-ever urinal gaming system (you play video games while using the urinal at the IronPig’s stadium) and a foam finger give away to raise awareness for prostate cancer earned Leigh Valley “Promotion of the Year” from Ballpark Digest.
Creativity is the key. Some are silly, but promotions get people in the stands. A free foam finger goes a long way to get someone to spend $20 a seat.
The Chihuahuas need to include local youth teams in these promotions. Think of how great an eight-year old baseball player would feel if he and his teammates were honored at a game and given a free ice cream cone. Not all promotions need to have a large dollar value; sometimes a little goes a long way.
So I hope the Mountain Star Sports group has put their thinking caps on for this upcoming season to come up with a fun and creative way to get those marginal baseball fans to the park. I’m thinking free Chihuahua giveaway.