Owners' Box: Success In Sports Is Merging Attitude And Aptitude - 7/18/11
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Monday, July 25 (8:47 a.m.)
Success In Sports Is Merging Attitude And Aptitude By Peter Guber
Peter Guber threw out the first pitch at Saturday's Dayton Dragons game in celebration of the team's history making streak of sellouts. (Courtesy Photo: Dayton Dragons)
It is with great pride that I share with you an accomplishment that truly is the merger between all the folks, most especially the fans, in the food chain of success in professional sports. Mandalay Baseball Properties, LLC, of which I am the proud chairman, has broken the record for the longest continuous sellout streak in North American professional sports with its Dayton Dragons, a Single A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The streak is at 822, and it’s still going.
Earlier this month we surpassed the previous record held by the Portland Trail Blazers, who sold out 814-straight home games from April 9, 1977, to Nov. 16, 1995. To give this some context, the Boston Celtics had a similar streak that ended at 662 in 1995, and the Boston Red Sox are still in hot pursuit with 633-consecutive sellouts since 2003.
Seven thousand two hundred and thirty seats at every game and a 9,000-fan waiting list for season tickets. No gimmicks … all monitored by professional baseball.
What’s remarkable is that it occurred in a city beset by economic woes during not one but two recessions and huge job losses. In the last four years, 74,000 jobs have been lost in the Dayton area and the downtown vacancy rate is higher than 35 percent, yet our state-of-the-art stadium – which we built downtown – is the least moribund.
Peter Guber and Magic Johnson form part of the Dayton Dragons ownership group. (Courtesy Photo: Dayton Dragons)
How did our team do it? We kept our promise to do things right from the outset; everything first class; for the long term; top customer service; family entertainment; committed employees; aggressive pursuit of organizational improvement; involvement in the community; and sponsorship programs that impacted our corporate partners’ business. Above all, we constantly listened to our fans. It has been a dialogue, not a monologue. We see our fans as participants, not passengers. The success could not have been achieved without the fans becoming advocates, apostles evangelizing their experience.
During the run, we’ve had four dozen players make it all the way to the majors; 60,000 batters have gone to the plate facing more than 250,000 pitches. We have been No. 1 in attendance in our league for all 11 seasons. And winning on the field was always a challenge. At one time, we lost 24-consecutive home games and the fans never stopped coming. Obviously, our goal is to get our team on the field to match the success of our attendance and we’ve accomplished that, to a degree, this season, as the club currently has a seven-game winning streak and sports the best second-half record (21-8) in the Midwest League.
We had many bumps in the road, no journey to success doesn’t have a puncture or two. The key was to sustain our integrity and let our authenticity shine through. As a strategy we aimed for our fans’ hearts instead of their wallets. Hits are born in our hearts and we took every opportunity to ask “What's in it for the fans?” They rewarded us and our organization with a monumental business success and I’m proud to be on their team.
The lesson for me in all this is that excuses don’t count in professional sports management. It's just a W or an L. Magic Johnson is part of the team’s ownership group, and he celebrated the occasion with us in Dayton on Saturday. Great fun!
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