Winter Meetings 2012: How to Maximize the Success of Your Ballpark

September 18, 2013


For decades, Populous has been a part of the Baseball Winter Meetings- whether we presented our firm on the trade show floor, participated on a panel at the Freitas Seminars or hosted a dinner, the Winter Meetings always gives us a great opportunity to connect with individuals in baseball who understand and value the impact a ballpark has on shaping the fan experience, the city and the team.  At this year’s meetings in Nashville, we again took a different approach, working with leaders in the industry to host a series of speakers as part of a workshop called “You’re On Deck: Maximizing Your Ballpark’s Potential.”  The workshop was focused on where we are all headed- discussing trends, logistics and revenue generation- components that impact each and every ballpark operator, team owner and president as they plan for the future of their facility.

We had representatives from more than 60 major and minor league teams in attendance to hear from our three speakers: Aaron Artman, President of the Tacoma Rainiers; Scott Jenkins, Vice President of Ballpark Operations for the Seattle Mariners; and Jason Freier, Owner/CEO of Hardball Capital, Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Savannah Sand Gnats.   Together, our speakers covered topics that are key to the success of a modern ballpark- the importance of developing positive working relationships with city officials and public/private partnerships, the evolving role of sustainable design, build and operation practices in ballparks and how to create unique revenue generation models based on the demographics of your current and projected fan base.

Each of the presentations hit on different topics that are sure to impact owners, executives, and operational staff over the coming few years, which is most likely the reason we had such an attentive and focused audience. Below is my understanding of the key lessons from each of the speakers’ presentations:

  • Aaron Artman:Aaron’s experience with the Tacoma Rainiers (who recently renovated their ballpark, Cheney Stadium) and the renovation process provided an ideal jumping off point for a conversation about the process involved with working with the local municipality, changing the ownership group in the middle of the design and construction process and public/private partnerships. Interesting takeaways included:
    • The importance of developing lasting relationships with city officials as well as the design and build teams to ensure the overall success of a renovation or new build.
    • Examining and deciding what is best for your team- whether that be to rebuild, relocate or remodel- and understanding that there is not a one-size-fits-all formula for success in whatever you choose to do.
    • Learning to manage the ‘curve balls’ that are inevitable in the early development, design, and construction phases.
  • Jason Freier:Jason possesses a wealth of knowledge regarding the business side of ballpark development and renovation.  He has conducted extensive research on minor league stadiums, evaluating how each team creates seating models and amenities that appeal to their unique fan bases.  He stressed the following:
    • The importance of doing thorough research on your team’s fan-base to create a mix of seating and amenities that will result in sales for your team, year after year.
    • Creating a revenue generation model that doesn’t only address your current fan base, but explores and plans for who your fan base will be 10, 15 or 20 years down the road is essential.
  • Scott Jenkins:Scott has truly been a leader in sustainable practices in baseball. His work with the Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field has demonstrated that the message of sustainability isn’t lost on fans, team owners or executives. The most compelling takeaways included:
    • The importance of leveraging involvement with groups like the Green Sports Alliance to better understand where sustainability in sports is headed and how your team or ballpark can most successfully integrate sustainable practices.
    • Research! Explore the existing sustainable practices baseball teams and other sports teams are engaging in and consider what you could most effectively adapt to fit your ballpark or fan base.
    • Case studies on the impact of sustainable practices on the bottom line of a team can also provide important basis for the integration of these practices as you meet with other decision makers for your team.

The Baseball Winter Meetings provide us an opportunity to come together and talk about the previous season, compare notes, and plan for the coming year. We hope attendees learned as much from the “You’re On Deck” workshop as we did and we hope you will offer suggestions on what topics you are interested in for next year.

We look forward to seeing attendees from last year as well as some new faces in Orlando in 2013!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *