Mar 31, 2009

1952: Conn Smythe tells players to stop chewing gum during the national anthem

Memo from Conn Smythe directing coaches to prohibit the chewing of gum
during the national anthem, December 3, 1952
Conn Smythe fonds
Reference Code: F 223-3-1-45
Archives of Ontario

Full text:
December 3, 1952

Mr. J. Primeau,
Mr. Stafford Smythe,
Father Faught,


There has been considerable criticism of the conduct of the individual players during the playing of the National ANthem.

It would be greatly appreciated if you would instruct your players to stand at attention, refrain from chewing gum and any other movements during this ceremony.

Yours very truly,

Conn Smythe,


Mar 30, 2009

Installing a new giant crown on top of the Royals scoreboard

Read all about the installation of a new giant crown on
The massive new Kansas City Royals crown — one of the signatures of the renovated Kauffman Stadium — was hoisted atop the scoreboard last week.

And then it came right back down.

The problem: It didn’t glitter enough.

Over the last couple days, work crews (right) have been installing new cladding, some shipped overnight from London, using special shingles. When the dark protective film comes off, the overall look will sparkle more, said Roger Reed of Zahner Architectural Metal.

Lots of photos here.

Mar 27, 2009

Pittsburgh sports music: Penguins, Steelers, Pirates

Here's a great article about the music played at three of Pittsburgh's major league sports teams: the Penguins, the Steelers and the Pirates. Highlights from the article:

The Pens skate out to the sound of crunchy, distorted guitars of contemporary hard rock reverberating off the ice. When the Steelers take the field, you're bound to hear classic rock. The Pirates' sound is cozy, comfortable, nostalgic — heavy on catchy, slightly-worn hits from the '80s and feel-good oldies like "Wooly Bully" and "Twist and Shout."


"The nature of our sport is aggressive -- we do our part to maintain that aggression with our music," says the Pittsburgh Penguins' game-night producer, Bill Wareham, 24. "Unlike football or baseball, most of our decisions are split-second. We don't have a designated offense or defense. ... We really try to feed off the crowd."

In practice, that often means playing AC/DC a lot, along with stylish, semi-hip pseudo-indie rock like The Strokes and Modest Mouse, and occasionally something hard and heavy, like metal titans Metallica or Dimmu Borgir.


"A general rule of thumb for us is, (with) a power play or anything in the attacking zone, we try to be more aggressive," Wareham says. "If we're backed up in the defensive zone, I'll try to play something more 'supportive,' or something like a call to arms for the fans -- like 'Right Now' by Van Halen -- and we'll put up on the board 'fans are our strength, and we need you Right Now.'

"We want to make them feel like a part of what we're trying to do, what the team is trying to do."

Some music you come to expect during a Pens game -- Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2" whenever there's a goal. And, yes, the country-techno version of "Cotton-Eyed Joe," by the Swedish band Rednex, is pretty much unavoidable.

"It's everyone's guilty pleasure," Wareham says. "It's, like, the worst song ever, but I can tell you as soon as I play it, you can see you see, like, 90 percent of the building on their feet."

Wareham occasionally will throw in some old-school hip-hop like Run DMC, or some Top 40, country or classic rock.

"Classic rock's still huge here," he says. "We're not as Styx-heavy as the Steelers, but that's their thing and I'm happy for them. I wish we had something like that."

Yes, Styx and Steelers, for some reason, are a match made in black-and-gold heaven. The Steelers didn't plan to turn Styx's me-against-the-world anthem "Renegade" (1978) into their theme song. But you can't argue with success.

"One of our videographers put a piece together with that music in the background, and it was played at a critical point in the game when our defense was needed to stand up -- and it got the fans going," says Tony Quatrini, 56, director of marketing for the Steelers.

"Now, our fans are almost conditioned: When that video board goes black, that's the cue -- the towels start to wave and the fans are energized. Consequently, we're hoping it translates onto the field and inspires the players."

The Steelers even brought in Styx this year during the playoffs to do an a cappella version of "Renegade."

"The band loves it," Quatrini says. "They're Steeler fans to begin with, and have granted us the right to go ahead and do this without any reservations or royalties."

For the Pirates, there isn't a specific sound, but baseball has a lot of time to fill between innings. Aside from the player introductions -- where each player gets his own theme song -- the goal is to make everybody happy at least once.

"We always try to have one or two very contemporary songs -- something on the iTunes most-downloaded list, something in the Top 10," says Eric Wolff, 40, the Pirates' producer and director of in-game entertainment. "Then, one or two good rock songs from the '80s or '90s. One or two classic rock songs -- this is Pittsburgh; everyone loves the classic rock -- and one or two oldies.

"We try to cover all the bases -- no pun intended," he says.

The first few innings usually are scripted out, musically. Then, it's all about adjusting to the curveballs the game throws at you.

"Obviously, Friday nights are rowdier than a Tuesday night or a Sunday afternoon," Wolff says. "You always want to keep it upbeat, with your crowd-pumps, your 'We Will Rock You,' your 'Crazy Train.' When you're losing seven to nothing, you're still going to stay high-energy, but you don't want to force it down people's throats. You're going to have bad games, horrible-weather nights, and the crowd just isn't going to get rowdy in that situation."

For the Pirates, game night is like a finely tuned orchestra, suddenly forced to improvise. Wolff is responsible for a lot of moving parts.

Essentially, all the elements of entertainment are found within the ballpark -- the video board, scoreboard, music, mascot, PA system, organ.

"All that stuff," Wolff says. "About 25 people, all told, on headset and walkie-talkie communication."

The Penguins, on the other hand, keep it simple.

"The organist sits about three feet from me," Wareham says. "It's all really unscripted. He's on headsets with me. Sometimes, I'll look over and say, 'Timmy (Priano), let's give 'em a "Let's Go Pens" to get 'em going.'"

Read the entire article...

Mar 26, 2009

Academia: The Effect of Promotions on the Demand for Baseball

The Sports Economist blog points us to this academic paper on the effect of promotions. An interesting read - here's the abstract.
Does Bat Day Make Cents?: The Effect of Promotions on the Demand for Baseball
Mark McDonald, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Daniel A. Rascher, University of San Francisco - Sport Management Program; SportsEconomics

Journal of Sport Management, Vol. 14, 2000

A primary objective of sport marketers in the professional sport setting is to develop strategies to increase game attendance. Historically, one of the strategies to accomplish this goal has been the utilization of special promotions. This paper studied the impact of promotions on attendance at professional sport games. Specifically, this research examines (1) the overall effect of promotions on attendance, and (2) the marginal impact on attendance of additional promotional days. Using a data set containing 1500 observations, we find that a promotion increases single game attendance by about 14%. Additionally, increasing the number of promotions has a negative effect on the marginal impact of each promotion. The loss from this watering down effect, however, is outweighed by the gain from having an extra promotion day.

Check out the new video scoreboard at Yankee Stadium

Check out Wired magazines article (and photos) about the video scoreboard and LED signage at the new Yankee Stadium. Some highlights from the article:
Taken by a local CBS affiliate in New York, the [first pictures of the new videoboard] show early tests of the 103-by-58-foot, 1080p HD Mitsubishi Diamond Vision LED display, which is six times larger than the screen at old Yankee Stadium. According to Mitsubishi, the display is embedded with 8,601,600 LED lamps (covering a total of 5,925 square feet), and can put up to four simultaneous images, with picture-in-picture capabilities.


So you'd think that with that enormous screen, umpires will be using it with the new replay system, right? Alas, no.

According to Major League Baseball, teams are forbidden from showing "a replay of any play that could incite either team or the fans." Judgment calls will continue being made by the umps, as they always have. It's possible that once a play has been decided, the scoreboard will show versions of disputed plays, but with a screen that size, any possible mistake by the umps could be compounded.

The giant screen is part of a big display tech development for the new Stadium, which also includes about 1,400 other video screens of all sizes, and about 550 of them are flat-panel Sony Bravias.

All displays will be managed by an IP-based network from Cisco Systems. Every one of those TVs will have a singular IP address that can be manipulated for specific MPEG-4 compressed video.

Expect the system to be used to sell ads within the stadium and to show awkward baseball-themed marriage proposals.

Last but not least, big-screen specialist Daktronics also built a video/scoring system that manages a 1,280-foot long color LED ribbon board mounted to the facade of the second deck and will be one of the longest continuous displays in sports. Just like the giant Times Square screen we featured months ago, the LED ribbon board is made out of hundreds of smaller LED 'cubes.' This one will show lineups and other team info and will occasionally show psychedelic light shows during the night (see pic above).

Mar 25, 2009

I'm getting hungry: Three articles about stadium food

  1. The Milwaukee Brewers introduce a $1 concession stand menu, offering hot dogs, soft drinks, popcorn, ice cream, and cookies -- all for a buck each. (via Partnership Activation)

  2. Ben's Biz Blog reports on the new $15 hamburger available to Michigan Whitecaps fans. It's 5/3 pounds of beef. (It's called the Fifth Third Burger, b/c the Whitecaps play at the Fifth Third ballpark. Get it?) See photo below.

  3. The Lakewood Blueclaws have a new "kids eat free" promotion at their concession stands. They had a similar program last year available on Monday nights only, but this season they'll extend the promo to every night of the year. Upon entering the ballpark, all kids get a voucher for a free hot dog, a bag of potato chips, and a 12 oz. fountain soda. (via Sports Marketing and PR Roundup)

Mar 23, 2009

Fun promos this season from the Charleston RiverDogs

Ben's Biz Blog highlights some very interesting promotions planned this season for the Charleston RiverDogs, including:

  • Salute to Cooterfest (April 15)
  • Salute to the G-String (June 11)
  • Here's To You Mr. Competitive Adult Softball Player Night (June 18)Nancy Appreciation Night (June 30)
Read more, including descriptions...

Statistics, attendance, marketing and the Cleveland Indians


Using statistical analysis of ticket purchases to understand the preferences and price limits of their fans, the [Cleveland] Indians learned that fireworks after a game draw an additional 4,000 fans; every one-degree temperature drop below 70 Fahrenheit costs them 300; and when the New York Yankees come to town, attendance jumps 11,000.

The Major League Baseball club is at the forefront of using statistical analysis to design pricing. The team says its plan will increase ticket revenue 5 percent this season...

“The goal was to do a better job figuring out what people were willing to pay for their product,” said Vince Gennaro, 57, a Purchase, New York-based consultant who managed the research project. “Where could we add value to convince them to make the purchase or decrease the price where demand is lower?”


Gennaro, author of “Diamond Dollar$: The Economics of Winning in Baseball,” analyzed three years of Indians sales data. He correlated factors like attendance, no-shows and walk-up sales with weather, promotions, the team’s record and the school calendar to determine what isolated events contributed to purchases.

He then asked more than 200 people in focus groups to rate their preferences. Would they rather watch the Indians play the Kansas City Royals during the warm days of July or the Boston Red Sox on cold, windy day in April? Would a bobblehead-doll promotion matter?

Lastly, the team researched the secondary ticket market to see which games drew more than face value.


The Indians’ research revealed that when children are on summer break, attendance increases 1,200; if rain is in the forecast, it falls 2,200; a bobblehead-doll giveaway brings in 4,700 people; and any promotion involving centerfielder Grady Sizemore, an All-Star three of his five seasons, increases attendance by 6,600.


The Indians came up with a four-tiered ticket plan that lowered prices to fill empty seats and increased prices when demand was high.

Promotions, like giveaways and fireworks, and season-ticket campaigns were then designed to increase what fans in each of the pricing plans were demanding most.

The biggest discounts are during weekday games in April and May, when the weather can get cold and rainy, children are in school and other sports are still in season. Ticket prices for seats in the park’s lower bowl were cut by as much as 50 percent.

Read the entire article...


Mar 20, 2009

National Anthems in sports - patriotism on display

Two videos that are good examples of patriotism on display during the singing of the National Anthem in sports.

First, from the Chicago Blackhawks, at the 1991 NHL All-Star game. Fans show their support for troops in the Gulf War:

Second, from the Edmonton Oilers during their 2006 playoff run. The fans belt out the anthem - no singer, just fans:

Mar 19, 2009

The future of in-arena interaction

From, here's an article called "Hi, tech: Gadgets are being introduced that will bring the games even closer". Highlights:
Imagine a face-to-face chat with Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Kevin Garnett, or Zdeno Chara hours before game time. Standing in front of high-definition displays in a local arena concourse, you make eye contact with your sports hero via Cisco TelePresence technology. It is the latest in video conferencing; you talk league gossip and lineup changes, knee injuries, and new players


High-tech entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban predicts a super-sized future for NBA arenas where "it won't be unique to see a [video] screen that stretches the 94-foot length of the court." He also envisions "digital delivery of sound that can be customized by area.


But more than anything, fans want a say in the experience. Chanting, clapping, and singing on cue aren't enough.

TelePresence at recent NBA and NHL All-Star festivities gave fans direct access to athletes. It was a World's Fair-style look at the future innovations provided by high-tech leader Cisco. Ticket upgrades via airport-style kiosks soon could be commonplace. The same could be true for replays by request on cellphones. Concession stand menus will appear on cellphones, too, allowing fans to order food from their seats and get it delivered.


Cisco wired the new Yankee Stadium and new Cowboys Stadium, giving the host teams interactive showplaces for the next generation of fan experience. The infrastructure is in place at TD Banknorth Garden, which is close to partnering with Cisco, though Garden president John Wentzell said, "We have not signed a contract yet."

Garden executives would like Cisco's StadiumVision installed when the 2009-10 NHL season starts. The video display application would network the arena's 600 high-definition monitors, clearing the way for easily customized signage. Walking through concourses after the fourth quarter, Celtics fans might see arrows pointing to the nearest exits and real-time traffic updates for Storrow Drive. That is Phase One.


"We have to be careful that working on your handheld device, sending text messages to the video screen, connecting to other areas around doesn't detract, and distract fans, from what's happening on the court," said NBA commissioner David Stern. "Now, there's looking at the video board and looking at the court. When you start looking at your cellphone, we may have a sensory overload issue with our fans."


Ricci foresees fans exchanging cellphone video of key plays from different seats and chatting in real-time with friends at the game and at home. Cisco technology already can offer all that, essentially allowing every fan to create an individualized, multi-media view of the game.

But what does this mean for the communal game experience? Will the days of Red Sox fans singing "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway Park soon end? Will Gino dance alone because Celtics fans are too busy checking statistics on cellphones?

Not necessarily. As a faithful member of Red Sox Nation raised in the Boston-area and living in California, Ricci cites his favorite baseball team as proof technology will enhance the communal fan experience. Using the Internet, he watches Red Sox games when he wants and catches up on team news. At a game last summer, his 15-year-old daughter snapped pictures of Jacoby Ellsbury, then posted them on her MySpace page.


At their home opener April 16, the Yankees officially will unveil what Cisco calls the most technologically advanced stadium in North America. At the new Yankee Stadium, there are 1,100 high-definition video monitors programmable with everything from replays to subway routes. Fans will find the monitors in luxury suites, concession stands, restaurants, and restrooms. Standing 59 feet high and 101 feet wide, the high-definition main scoreboard will be the top video attraction.


While the Yankees still made a splash with announcements about the futuristic features at the new stadium, they actually will be the second major league team to introduce fans to Cisco StadiumVision during the upcoming regular season. The Royals, who invested $250 million into renovating Kaufmann Stadium and added many of the same high-tech innovations, will be the first by six days.


Multi-purpose arenas may benefit most. "Dolphins Stadium can morph to suit whatever tenant, whatever event," said Dolphins Enterprises vice president of marketing partnerships Chris Overholt. By reprogramming high-definition displays to reflect different home teams, Dolphins Stadium in Miami easily switches from hosting NFL games to MLB games to NCAA football games.


At Gillette Stadium, winter weather and NFL rules regarding content distribution factor heavily into discussions of high-tech additions. Technology helps entertain Patriots fans, but they also are served by a practical application, increasingly popular in other sports venues.

"We've installed a special number to text message security problems, cameras will be turned onto that location and people will come," said Patriots president Jonathan Kraft. "That's not entertainment, but it's ensuring you have as good an experience as you can."

Read the entire article...

Mar 18, 2009

L.A. Kings anthem singer Gloria Loring: "She was worth a goal"

Here's a fun story from Don Cherry's excellent new book, "Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff", about Gloria Loring, the anthem singer for the L.A Kings (late 1970's? early 1980's?).
We go into LA and in those days, everybody knew Gloria Loring. She was married to Alan Thicke.

She sang the anthems before the games, but she would not sing until the crowd went nuts. She’d stand there while they got all worked up. They loved her. She was worth a goal, she really was. I just happened to say to Frosty Forristal, one of our trainers, “Gee, she gets them all worked up. She’s worth a goal.”

He says, “Yeah.” I didn’t know what he was talkin’ about.

In those days, you had to have a cord for the microphone. They didn’t have the cordless ones like they do now.

So she gets to centre ice and the crowd is all worked up and she lifts the mike and starts to sing, and there’s silence!
Now the crowd dies down and one of the workers comes out. But he can’t fix it and she has to go over and sit in the penalty box and sing using the announcer’s mike.

It ruined her whole thing.

Frosty had crawled underneath the seats and cut the wire!

We won the game.

[Co-writer Al Strachan’s note]: A few years later, when the Edmonton Oilers were taking on the Kings in a playoff game in the same building, Don was working for Hockey Night in Canada and told this story to Oilers coach Glen Sather.

Oddly enough, before the game the next night, the cord got cut again. Sather denied any involvement.
Fun fact: Gloria Loring and Alan Thicke co-composed the theme song for tv's "The Facts of Life", and Gloria sang on the track.

Here's a video of Gloria singing at an L.A. Raiders game.

Sports Business Journal weighs in on game entertainment

Here's an article from the Sports Business Journal on the state of game entertainment. Some highlights:
  • "...the NBA ranks as the most aggressive league in sports when it comes to entertainment. The league and its teams can hardly utter a sentence without mentioning “best practices,” a system of shared video snippets highlighting effective promotions, skits and segments employed by various franchises."
  • "At [NBA] league headquarters, three account managers divide up the 30 teams and keep constant tabs on how well they entertain fans — and also collaborate on new ideas and initiatives. NBA teams have become particularly fond of taking more and more aspects of the nightly arena show in-house; that is, the teams are eager to stop paying outside agents and acts in favor of assembling their own drum lines, dance teams, dunk squads, deejays and so forth."

  • "In Seattle, the Sonics have urged players to chat with fans and sign autographs after pregame shoot-arounds, and gone beyond making those personal touches standard fare by also persuading players to toss T-shirts into the crowd. Ray Allen and other familiar faces from the team film clips for trivia segments, encourage fans to dance in the aisles with attendant videotaped demonstrations and provide mundane public-service announcements."

    "The Knicks have enjoyed similar success with their players. A segment called “Who Wins the Oscar” features three players acting out the same famous movie scene, with fans deciding which hoopster stands as most likely to chat with James Lipton about the art of thespianism ... Being in the cultural capital allows the Knicks an entertainment advantage: playing up the fandom of celebrities who are fans of the team. Sandler and LL Cool J, among others, have filmed spots used on the video board prompting fans to support the team."

  • "Martin McCreary, who handles game presentation for the Buffalo Sabres, says hockey fans tend to come to the sport by attending a game, not by watching on TV. That contradicts the path most NFL and NBA fans take — and creates different expectations. “NHL fans are a little more hard-core,” he said. “So they don’t want you to mess with it too much. It’s like surfing: You better know what wave you’re riding or you’re going to get hurt.”
  • "Those differences ring true with Peter Sorckoff, who, as senior director of game operations with the Atlanta Spirit sports group, handles arena entertainment for both the NBA Hawks and NHL Thrashers. In a nutshell, he says, the philosophy for the teams starts with the basic difference between the two sports: Hockey stands as more of a team game while basketball tends to be marketed as a game of individual talents."
Read the entire article...

Originally seen on

Mar 16, 2009

Fun facts about Youppi!

Wikipedia on Youppi:
  • Created by the same marketing team who designed the Phanatic
  • Was the first mascot to be ejected from a game - August 23, 1989. "In the 11th inning, while atop the visitors' dugout, Youppi! took a running leap, landing hard and noisily on its roof, and then snuck into a front row seat. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda complained to the umpires and Youppi! was ejected, though he later returned, confined to the home team's dugout roof."
  • Is one of only three mascots in the baseball hall of fame.
  • Is the only pro mascot that we know of that's switched sports - from the Expos to the Canadiens.
From a TSN/Canadian Press report:

[Youppi] has been picked up by the NHL Montreal Canadiens after intense negotiations with 10 different interested groups and companies, including the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.

Terms of the deal between the Expos and the Canadiens were not disclosed but one report said negotiations involved six figures.

Claude Delorme, a former vice-president of the Expos, said discussions began about a week after the club's home season ended.

Youppi!'s last official event was an Expos' game on Sept. 29, 2004 when the team played its final home game at the Olympic Stadium.

The National League club then moved to Washington to become the Nationals.

''He was actually with the Expos for 25 years but was off for 10 months since last October,'' said Delorme.

Delorme admits there were a few stumbling blocks along the way.

''It wasn't really a question of hard negotiations.

''What complicated it was really all the legal issues and we really had to deal with the Expos' rights on the uniform and it took several months and several batteries of lawyers to get there.

''For us it's a natural decision for the Canadiens to adopt him and keep the continuity of Youppi! in Montreal and Quebec.

Tommy Lasorda: I hate the Phillie Phanatic

More from our research into mascots ... here's an article from Tommy Lasorda's blog called "I hate the Phillie Phanatic".
In fact, I am not very happy about mascots in general. I think they take away from the game on the field.

One of the worst incidents was perpetrated by the Phillie Phanatic. The Dodgers were in town to play the Phillies and somehow, it got ahold of one of my jerseys. It took the jersey, put it on a dummy and ran over the dummy again and again.

That type of a display should not be shown in ballparks, especially in front of children. It exhibits violence and disrespect. Read on...

More fun facts about the Phanatic from Wikipedia:

  • The Phanatic debuted on April 25, 1978 at The Vet when the Phils played the Chicago Cubs.
  • The Phanatic was originally portrayed by Dave Raymond, who was then working as an intern in the team's front office, for fifteen years, from 1978 to 1993.
  • In his book Pouring Six Beers At A Time, [Former Phillies VP Bill Giles] wrote of the worst decision of his life when it came to the creation of the Phanatic. The design would cost $5,200 for both the costume and the copyright ownership, or $3,900 just for the costume with Harrison/Erickson retaining the copyright. Giles chose to just buy the costume. Five years later, when Giles and his group of investors bought the team from Ruly Carpenter, the franchise paid $250,000 to Harrison/Erickson for the copyright.
  • One week before the Phillies had their 2006 opener, the Phanatic was "dyed" red as part of the team's week-long promotion to "Paint the Town Red".
  • He appeared in the closing credits of the film Rocky Balboa (2006).
  • The Phanatic also has the dubious distinction of being the most sued mascot in sports. Most notably, the Phillies had to pay a judgment of $2.5 million to a man at a paint store event when the Phanatic jumped the patron with a rough-house bear hug, from which the man sustained serious back injuries.

VIDEO: A treasure trove of Famous Chicken videos

Just found this collection of Famous Chicken videos on YouTube while prepping for a class on mascots and performers. The Famous Chicken - aka The San Diego Chicken - is our favourite mascot of all time. Trivia: He is one of the few pro-sports mascots who talks.

Mar 14, 2009

VIDEO: Frank Pellico, Blackhawks organist

Frank Pellico is the organist for the Chicago Blackhawks, and may well be the best organist in hockey. This video does a great job at capturing the awesome sounds (and sights) of the organ and its player.

Pellico's been playing for 19 seasons, and started at the old Chicago Stadium on the legendary Barton organ.

Mar 1, 2009

Celtics & Welch: Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Here's a fun video we saw on Brian Gainor's blog, from the Boston Celtics. It's a scoreboard video featuring some dance moves by Welchy, Welch's Peanut Butter Jelly mascot. It's a good example fo ad agencies looking for the right way to promote your product at a game. Instead of running a 30-second tv spot -- it's better to customize it to your arena audience.