I have spent a lot of time in hockey arenas over the years. From marketing in the OHL to road trips with friends, and more recently playing hockey, I have developed a love of arenas. As strange as it may sound, there’s something so calming about good music blasting from the speakers and the sound of skates on ice.
After years of being the artsy type, people have often asked me “why hockey?” While it comes down to a few reasons, I’m going to talk about one of the reasons today – I am fascinated with sports marketing. I would argue that it’s not a far trek from the world of theatre to the world of hockey…
The marketing mind
When I visit a new arena, I start assessing from the minute I park. What’s the experience like? Are they optimizing space? Is their brand clearly displayed and highly recognizable? Ask any of my friends, this is seriously what immediately happens and I vocalize my thoughts. With sports (not just hockey), it’s no longer just about the sport, but about the experience in its entirety.
Am I entertained at intermissions or is it just back-to-back Timbits games?
Am I entertained at intermissions or is it just back-to-back Timbits games? Does the atmosphere make me want to visit concessions, take a lap about the arena or buy a merchandise? Do they have an app that I “need” to download to check out? I’m always amazed by fan interaction, jumbotron content, and sponsorship placement too. Beyond enjoying the sport, I can’t turn off my marketing mind.
Then there’s the connection to the community – I feel like all great sports teams have it. Think of teams like the Green Bay Packers or the Real Madrid. These teams have got it going on; sold out games, community connection, and incredibly strong brands. Whether it’s hockey or soccer, junior hockey to NHL, I find it fascinating the way that teams choose to connect to their communities.
Then there’s the connection to the community – I feel like all great sports teams have it.
I also notice when they don’t. I remember attending a game this year where a well-known non-profit’s name was spelled wrong during the hockey game (multiple times that night). It felt as though they were shining a “look at how awesome we are” light on themselves for getting involved, but failed to take the time to actually get to know the organization they were helping.
Far from a super fan
Throughout the hockey season a couple coworkers and I “shoot the shit” about hockey. Nowadays I can talk stats, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a team, and sometimes I even have an opinion on how they can solve their issues – but I’m far from a super fan. I’m far from one of those kids that were raised on hockey. In terms of having a “team,” I’ve jumped on the Las Vegas bandwagon (I have my marketing AND hockey reasons), and my allegiances to other teams change regularly.
It really comes down to the fact that I’m still the artsy type enjoying the sporty types’ world. A creative mind sitting among the home-raised hockey fans. Spitting out the knowledge doesn’t make me sporty, because when I go to an arena I’m still attending from an emotional standpoint – I want the theatrics and the fun. Hockey is a night out with friends; the way I’ve reconnected with old friends and friends I don’t see enough. I might play hockey, but I’d rock a microphone on a stage over my skates any day.
But, in my marketing mind, I continue to love the arena experience. The theatrics of the world of hockey, and the lessons it can bring to the marketing world.