Under the Friday night lights, sports fans cheer on their favorite teams from bleachers or folding chairs, munching on popcorn and nachos beneath the stars and retractable domes. The experience of attending a game in a massive stadium is unique and memorable, and the facilities themselves make every effort to keep fans coming back for more. Whether it’s a game-night bobblehead or a free foam finger, promotional products play a winning role in the success of sports venue marketing. 

Among the most popular marketing campaigns are game-night giveaways. Diehard fans love lining up for the latest in quirky, creative promotional items that help them celebrate their favorite teams long after the season has ended.

Arizona Diamondbacks fans received Hawaiian shirts for a Father’s Day giveaway this season, while the first 20,000 visitors to a Milwaukee Brewers game in June received a miniature replica bullpen car.

Colleges also tempt their fans with clever promotions; the women’s basketball program at Louisiana State University offered free tickets to local elementary school students and gave the first 5,000 to show up a branded LSU Lady Tigers pencil pouch.

Thanks to America’s love for professional athletics, stadiums and arenas are known for being spacious—which is why they often serve as multipurpose venues that cater to events in music, the arts, comedy and more. Madison Square Garden, known as the world’s most famous arena, is as famous for its blowout music concerts as it is for hosting the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers. In addition to merchandising and branding opportunities for the events themselves, these venues also cater to local businesses with on-site sponsorships and other forms of brand exposure.


Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Professional sports make their mark on cities and states with stadiums built on a grand scale, often sporting the names of their corporate benefactors. The old guard among these athletic venues includes Soldier Field, home to the Chicago Bears, which opened in 1924; Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs, which opened in 1914; and Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox, which opened in 1912.

Today’s sports complexes are engineering marvels with retractable roofs, modern architecture and food markets. Portland, Oregon’s professional soccer teams and their faithful followers can look forward to a 2019 expansion of their 91-year-old stadium, Providence Park, that will include a street-level public arcade area and an increase in seating to accommodate 25,000 fans.


Getting In On The Ground Floor
The Pulse Of The Industry

• Stadium Managers Association: www.stadiummanagers.org
• International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities: www.iaks.org
• Sports Turf Managers Association: www.stma.org
• The Journal of Sports Facility Management www.scoop.it/t/the-journal-of-sports-facility-management

• Innovative ticketing and pricing
• Digital and social advertising
• Social activism among athletes

• Fan engagement
• On-site digital technology and mobile capabilities
• Improving fan safety at venues

Jobs At Sports Venues
Event Management
Guest Services


Industry Case Studies

Promotion Covered

A small community hosted an annual 5k walk/run and set up a registration table on the day of the event. The organizers chose an All Over Dye Sub Table Cover to promote the event and present a welcoming sight to participants. The washable, flame-resistant cover is easy to store and ship, and its generous sizing covers tables up to 29 inches high. The U.S.-made, white table cover is three-sided to accommodate seating on one side of the table. The organizers appreciated the full-color printing capability, which allowed them to display the event graphics for all to see.
Source: Hub Promotional Group

Serving Up Recognition

Fans may not realize it, but much of the positive experience at a game stems from excellent service from the individuals off the field. To recognize the good work of its concession and retail employees at U.S. Cellular Field, Sportservice of Chicago established a program called GuestPath. The process encourages employees to provide superior service in ways that are measurable, and rewards employees with immediate recognition as well as special events.

Managers who see great guest service can reward employees on the spot with custom coins that are worth one, five or 20 points. The coins can be exchanged for raffle tickets on prizes such as flat-screen televisions, which are awarded at an end-of-year party. Every Sportservice employee participates in the program, possibly because the custom-minted coins hold a higher perceived value than a punch card or other means of recording service.
Source: Osborne Coinage

All-Rounders Ahead
Fans of the “other” football may bemoan a lack of enthusiasm among U.S. sports fans, but they may soon have another world sport with which to share the domestic spotlight: cricket. The global favorite has actually been played in America since its colonial days, and though the sport has flown well under the radar for the past 200 years it is experiencing a resurgence.

Market research firm Nielson found that 200,000 people play the sport in the U.S., and it has a fan base in the millions. This year, a Houston-area business man is building what might be the nation’s largest cricket complex northwest of the Texas megacity. When completed, the complex will house at least 10 separate fields.

Eric Parthen, U.S. project manager for the International Cricket Council, told the Houston Chronicle that the nation’s immigrant population is largely responsible for the rise in interest—Southeast Asian communities in particular. “These children are growing up in families passionate about cricket,” Parthen said.


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Jen Alexander is associate editor of PPB.