Thunder Blue Alliance 5,000 Fans Strong and Counting
Oklahoma City, OK – Thunder fans across Oklahoma are connecting with fellow supporters in their communities thanks to a fan alliance recently launched by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team reported.
The Thunder Blue Alliance charges volunteer captains in cities throughout Oklahoma with connecting fans in their hometowns in order to bring the spirit of Thunder Basketball to the local level. Since the program’s launch in March, nearly 100 captains have been named and more than 5,000 fans have joined their local groups through Facebook.
“One of the building blocks of our organization is the idea of community,” said Brian Byrnes, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Thunder. “To bring that concept home for people means taking our team to their hometowns – giving them a direct, local connection with the Thunder. That’s been the notion behind the Blue Alliance, and it’s a testament to our fans that it has been embraced so quickly and so passionately.”
Before the Blue Alliance launched, fans were encouraged to apply to be captains by submitting photos, videos or essays to the Thunder. More than 70 captains were initially chosen, and more have been added since then as more fans have discovered the program.
Some captains saw interest in the Blue Alliance bubble up quickly – including James Reynolds, Blue Alliance Captain for Owasso in northeast Oklahoma. Within the first few weeks of its launch, Reynolds’ group grew to over 400 members and remains one of the largest in the state. He credits a combination of intensive online promotion and an organic response from fans for his success.
“The best thing I did to recruit was just get the word out to as many websites and pages as possible that [were] relevant to my friends or town,” he said. His next goal is to grow the group to 1,000 “now that school is out and I have more time to devote to it, and because I love the Thunder!”
In Mustang, a city about “four square miles,” Susie Crockett has generated interest in her Blue Alliance group both online and offline. Crockett has hosted a number of watch parties for Thunder road games, usually in conjunction with Yukon’s Blue Alliance. About 20 fans showed up for the first watch party.
“I have been a Season Ticket Member since the start,” Crockett said. “I love going to Thunder games,” and she can hardly contain her Thunder pride when her team plays.
But for Crockett, the Blue Alliance doesn’t stop at Thunder games. Her goal is to leverage resources throughout the community to get all of Mustang invested in the Thunder.
For example, Crockett contacted her local paper and within a few days made the front page. She’s now planning to make contact with other community groups to connect the Blue Alliance with their summer events in Mustang.
That notion that Thunder basketball stretches beyond the team’s on-court activities has been fundamental to growing the organization’s fan base. Locally, Thunder players are known almost as much for their community outreach as they are for their game performances. The Thunder Community Foundation has directed a steady stream of autographed items, volunteer help and even funds to boost local projects.
The team sees these efforts as an investment in the community of fans that has invested so heavily in them – but recognizes that more can be done.
“As an organization, we have always prioritized building relationships with our community and with our fans, but as our Thunder family grows we continue to seek out opportunities that link fans throughout Oklahoma,” said Christine Berney, the Thunder's director of community relations.
More than just a fan club, the Blue Alliance was created in part to find more local opportunities to grow that feeling of community the team has inspired.
“We’re looking for enthusiastic and engaging leaders, not just superfans, to carry our message across the state,” said Byrnes. “And what’s been so inspiring to us is that we’ve found so many people who embrace our organizational values and who can help us plant the seeds for our long term development.
“We are definitely excited to see what happens next for the Blue Alliance.”
Thunder fans, CLICK HERE to find a Blue Alliance chapter near you and connect with fans in your hometown.