Jan 31, 2010

Florida Panthers host Yoga Night

From The Business of Sport:

The Florida Panthers are getting in on the yoga craze helping to celebrate Yoga Day USA on Jan. 23. Panthers Yoga Day includes a 90-minute yoga instruction session before the Panthers-Toronto Maple Leafs game that night.

Tickets are $20 for the game and the yoga, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Bring your own yoga mat and change of clothes and stay for the game in an upper level seat at BankAtlantic Center. Already have a ticket to the game? It’s just $10 more for the yoga class.

A promo for every day of the week

Here's an interesting gameday promotion from the Trenton Thunder, a minor league baseball team in New Jersey. This season, they have a different theme night for every day of the week, all season long.
  • Kids Eat Free Mondays – great for bring families out to the game
  • $1 Dog Tuesdays – A favorite marketing tactic for any cost-conscious buyers
  • Wacky Wednesdays – Theme nights designed for those that want more than just baseball entertainment when they come to a game
  • Thirsty Thursdays – Beer specials and fireworks, who doesn’t enjoy that?
  • Family Fun Fridays – Giveaways and fireworks, again geared toward family consumers, but without any discounting involved
  • Fireworks Spectacular Saturdays – Another way to generate excitement for the less baseball-obsessive customers (who would come to games anyway)
  • Kids Rule Sundays – Giveaways, youth entertainers, opportunity for kids to run the bases, and a free ticket incentive for Kids Club members (which can boost sales of their $15 kids membership club

(via The Business of Sport)

Jan 16, 2010

More organ notes

Here's a web page about Dan Wheeler, organist and music director for the Wheeling Nailers, and a guy who infamously for got tossed out of a game for playing "Three Blind Mice" after a bad call from the refs:
In a play-off game in this first season Dan was ejected from a game for taunting the officals with the song "Three blind mice". The game was being televised in Canada and ESPN sports. The ousting from the game made front page news and was picked up by wire services nationwide, making Dan the first organist in professional hockey history to ever be ejected from a game. A letter was directed to him from the commissioner of the league warning him and the team of a $500.00 fine and a bench minor penalty. Couch Doug Sauter commented along with the local papers that Dan was a important part of the team and fired up the crowds with his music.
And here's an article from SLAM! Sports about Horace Lapp, the original organist at Maple Leaf Gardens. (Read more about the original Maple Leaf Gardens organ here.)
In the early 1950s, my dad took me south from New Liskeard to visit family in Mimico. Uncle had tickets for a Leafs-Bruins game, and so, an excited teenager's first streetcar ride was to the Gardens.

The moment we entered the shrine, I could both hear and feel Horace.

Scaling the heights to greys in a corner, I couldn't care less how bad the seats were, the girder in front of us a shared obstruction. Lapp was playing La Golondrina (The Swallow) as the teams warmed up, swooping and gliding over the ice. With the power of the Mighty Wurlitzer organ at his command, his glorious sound resonated through the very wood beneath you, shivering your timbers.

Now and forever, it was the ultimate in piped-in noise.

I recall hearing a few bars of the Skaters Waltz during a protracted brawl, an abbreviated chorus of You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby as a combatant headed to the dressing room trailing blood from a high stick to the chops. Other than that, Horace restricted himself to playing mini-concerts between periods, an early apostle of less-is-more, no surprise that one of his first gigs was accompanying silent films.

Leafs owner Harold Ballard ripped out both the portrait of the Queen and the Mighty Wurlitzer from the end zones to make way for more seats, claiming they weren't paying the freight. Pal Hal ushered in an era of on-the-cheap, amateur organists who couldn't carry Horace Lapp's jockstrap in a bushel basket.

Where once silence was golden -- the game the thing -- we now find ourselves talking about whether the loudmouths who have taken over the airwaves and the sound systems should be further allowed to distort reality, to crank up the volume to unbearable levels.

Speaking for old guys, we have the option of tuning out or turning down the sound on our hearing aids. But even your Billy Bobs from Barrie recognize aural manipulation when they hear it. I recommend as an antidote Horace Lapp's version of Your Cheating Heart between whistles.

Jan 13, 2010

A bit about the evolution of PA announcing in sports

The Toronto Argonauts of the CFL hired a new PA Announcer last year. The Toronto Star had a short article that touched a bit on how the job of stadium/arena PA announcer has evolved:

When the Argos began their search for a new announcer, Nathan Downer was at the top of their shortlist. The professionally trained voice that can go from deep and authoritative to booming and excited? Check. Toronto sports (and especially Argo-centric) background? He counts the team's 1982 return to the Grey Cup as a cherished sporting memory. Add experience as sports director for the Flow 93.5, and his present position, and there's some recognition factor there.

That, and, of course, a personal style, deepens the longer Downer, or anyone for that matter, stays in these kind of positions. Andy Frost, who replaced the legendary Paul Morris as the Leafs' house voice a decade ago, can't open his mouth without the potential for one of those "Hey, aren't you...?" moments.

"It happens constantly – I'm in a store and I say something and people recognize the voice," said Frost, who was among upwards of 100 (some say as many as 300) to be considered to fill Morris's estimable vocal cords. "Sometimes it's, `Hey Andy, call a Sundin goal for us!' That's usually young kids."

There's more to it than uttering "last minute of play in the period." Accompanying Downer on his dress rehearsal night – a pre-season game – was a huge file of sponsors' announcements, timing notes and lineups. A spotter sits at his side, because, as he says, "you're going through this page by page – then you look up and there's the game going on. You can't lose track of that."

For the generation around when the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup, Morris's deadpan delivery was the gold standard. In a pro sports environment where glitzy packaging and "Make Some Noise" messages on the Jumbotron are the norm, the Morris model is emulated nowadays in fewer and fewer spots.

"A lot of teams are looking for people to be a little bit more of a cheerleader in some ways – guys like John Mason in Detroit (with the Pistons)," said Jon Cudo of gameops.com. "It's part of the NBA's entertainment model going back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, which other sports have picked up on."


It is not quite anything-goes, though. This remains very much a boys' club, the San Francisco Giants' Renel Brooks-Moon the only woman working as a PA announcer in big-time North American sports.

Jan 12, 2010

Promotions round-up #287

  • GameOps.com handed out its Best of 2009 Promotion Award to two winners this year: The Cleveland Cavaliers "Lebron's Powder Toss Night" and the Bowling Green Hot Rods' "What Could Have Been Night"

    Lebron Powder Toss Night: "Masters of marketing their athletes, Nike partnered with the Cavaliers to help them promote the debut of the LeBron XI shoes for the Christmas Day Game. As LeBron James performed his pregame routine of tossing hand chalk into the air, the sellout crowd threw packets of white confetti aloft with him, creating a blizzard-like effect inside Quicken Loans Arena. The theatrical stunt was to promote James’ new Nike “Chalk” shoe, one of several variations he has worn this season."

    What Could Have Been Night: ..."The fledgling Bowling Green Baseball Club held a name-the-team contest to determine what moniker it would employ during its inaugural 2009 campaign. Hot Rods emerged victorious, but "Cave Shrimp" proved to be a surprisingly popular choice (Mammoth Cave, in close proximity to Bowling Green, is home to a sightless albino species known as Kentucky Cave Shrimp). The unexpected popularity of the "Cave Shrimp" name led to "What Could've Been Night." On this evening of alternate reality, the club wondered "What Could've Been" had Cave Shrimp been the team's nickname"

  • Cameron "Superfan" Hughes, who got his start dancing & throwing t-shirts back at the Civic Centre for the Ottawa Senators, was hired by Pepsi to promote their "Eh! O Canada! Go!" chant at the World Juniors. Puck Daddy has an interview...

  • Partnership Activation has a great idea started: The 100 Hottest Promotional Items in Sports

Dallas Mavericks host a Baby Race

Hey look, the Dallas Mavericks did a Baby Race promotion earlier this year. One of these days I`ll get around to adding our old Ottawa 67`s Baby Race footage to YouTube...

Jan 11, 2010

Better late than never: Fun NHL Christmas videos

Why game entertainment?

I'm doing some prep for my Algonquin College course, starting on Wednesday morning. Here's an article that we'll look at in class. A good read for a general introduction to game entertainment from a business/marketing perspective.
Sports Business Journal - Fun and Games
Between promotions, skits, traveling troupes, video highlights, contests and ear-rattling sound systems blaring everything from hip-hop to country, anyone who attends a sporting event knows the emphasis on entertainment has never been greater.

More on the New Jersey lighting problem the other night

KuklasKorner links to to two articles about last Friday's Devils-Lightning game in New Jersey, after the game was stopped due to a lighting problem.

First, blogger Tom Gulitti complains that the New Jersey organization failed to properly communicate was was happening with fans.

Second, NJ.com has an article about the costs and penalties incurred when a game is delayed or cancelled.

Jan 6, 2010

All about the original organ at Maple Leaf Gardens

Had a good chat this morning with a Carleton University grad student who's working on a paper exploring the history of organ music in sports. As far as I know, the Chicago Blackhawks were the first stadium to install an organ. It was the Barton Organ, a massive music machine that intimidated the visiting team, according to legend.

It's hard to find any history about other organs, but I did come across this today -- some info about the first organ at Maple Leaf Gardens, which apparantly still exists inside the Casa Loma in Toronto. Here's a bit of the story:
In 1956, the fatal news was announced that Shea's Hippodrome would be shuttered and the property demolished to make way for the new civic center. Almost too late the organ was purchased by the Maple Leaf Gardens from the wrecking company for $2,000. The roof of the theatre had already been removed! A month was allowed for removal of the instrument.

Credit for the purchase of the organ by the Maple Leaf Gardens management goes to two persons. Dr. Bruce Tovee, ATOS member, and personal physician to Gardens president, Major Conn Smythe, talked the major into buying it. The major, with a feeling of tradition and history, was convinced that the organ would serve a useful purpose in providing background music at hockey games, church rallies etc. The console, pipes, new bandstand and an executive clubhouse all fitted into a neat structure at the sound end of the Gardens under a huge new portrait of Queen Elizabeth.

During re-installation, the organ was considerably enlarged. A new 5-manual console was built, and two of the manuals were obtained from the right pit console of the New York Paramount. The action was completely re-leathered, and new relays installed. Three additional ranks were purchased from the Strand Theatre in Brooklyn, and California theatre organ enthusiast, Dick Simonton contributed an English Post Horn. A new blower was installed, and a high-pressure fanfare Trumpet was planned for but never installed. The piano was not included in the new specifications, either, but most of the toy counter and percussions were. Retained also were the Brass Trumpet. Brass Saxophone and a solo Tibia Clausa on 25inch wind pressure. The action was changed from pneumatic to partial electric operation.

About a year was required to properly install the organ. Doug Morris designed the new addition to the building. Sound engineer was Bob Wood. Much of the organ installation was handled by Ed Gress from Boston and Stewart Duncan, a local expert. Total cost of the project was approximately $100,000.

The first program on the newly installed instrument was on December 20, 1958, when Don "Knuckles" Gordon played seasonal music for Young Canada Night, between periods of a hockey game which was broadcast coast-to-coast on the CBC. Horace Lapp became organist shortly after.

The organ's tenure in Maple Leaf Gardens was a short one, indeed. In 1963 the Gardens were remodeled to add 1800 seats, the Wurlitzer becoming superfluous. What followed was a memorable battle among elements of organ lovers to keep the organ intact and in the area until a place could be found for its third installation.

When the smoke of battle had cleared, the Toronto Theatre Organ Society, with help from affluent members, purchased the organ for $3850. The instrument was removed from the Gardens in 1964, and stored in the imperial Theatre. The Imperial's manager, Bert Brown, was an ATOS member, so this helped the situation immeasurably. The organ languished for six years until the society found a home for it.

Early in 1970, the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto offered the Wurlitzer a home in Casa Loma, thereby replacing the organ which had been sold in the 1924 auction. In June 1970, the organ' s components were moved from the Imperial to the Casa Loma and housed in what was the indoor swimming pool. Installation was begun immediately by members of the Toronto Theatre Organ Society.

Read the entire article...