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How South Florida Teams Deal With An Extraordinarily Fickle South Florida Fan Base – Part III

March 25, 2011

The third and final part of my series about how South Florida’s sports teams deal with a fickle fan base. This post focuses on the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers have the hardest job of all South Florida teams, but have done surprisingly well.  The Panthers were an expansion team in 1993, just like the Marlins, but have only reached the finals once, where they were swept by a very good Colorado Avalanche team. Hockey, on average, is not as popular in South Florida than the rest of the country.  Additionally, hockey is not as popular in America as compared with the other local sports team’s sports; football, basketball, and baseball.  But hockey fans are die hard and very loyal.  Getting these few fans to the games is not hard, but getting other fans is nearly impossible.

On the sports side, the Panthers want to create a “family” environment with the Panthers.  They want fans to enjoy the game with family and friends shifting the focus from the actual product, the team, and more on the experience as a whole, the activity.  That being said, they have hired a new, highly touted General Manager who is implementing a “blueprint” for the success on the sports side.  They have begun to cut players and payroll, and rebuild with draft picks and free agent signings.  So far, they seem to be on the right track in getting the sports side on par with the entertainment side of the organization.

More important to the Panthers than the hockey team is the BankAtlantic Center (BAC) and the entertainment side of the building.  Since Michael Yormark took over as Chief Operating Officer, the Panthers have taken an entertainment first, sports second approach (as you can see from Jason’s article a few weeks ago).  The BAC is one of the most highly rated and respected venues in the country primarily due to concerts and other events, not hockey.  While working with the Panthers the summer between my freshmen and sophomore years in college, I was able to witness the Corporate Sales and New Business Development departments at work.  They are relentless (as they should be) and they go after every sponsor, every musician, and every event coming through South Florida.  The work ethic by Yormark, Matthew Rickoff, Eric Tomasini, and the rest of the Panthers organization is unparalleled.  I would arrive to work at 8:00am only to be greeted by Yormark, Rickoff, and Tomasini well into a meeting, and an e-mail from Yormark with a daily (or weekly on Mondays) agenda on what had been done the day before, and what needs to be done the day to come.  The most impressive aspect of this entire experience was that the e-mail was written and sent prior to 4:05am.  I knew what was expected of me for the upcoming day or week well before I had even woken up or brushed my teeth.

The culture and environment was also superior to any other organization that I have worked with, which is why the employees were willing to work so hard.  Phrases such as “Dream Big and Dare to Fail” were posted around the office and would inspire all employees.  Casual Fridays, Thursday bagels, and monthly pep-rallies were events that I looked forward to throughout the internship.  This is what makes the Panthers competitive in a sport that is undesirable and a city whose fans are as fickle as the teams that play in it.  In marketing class we called this the “Service Profit Chain,” whereby you invest in your employees, which leads to employee happiness and loyalty, which, in turn, leads to more productive employees.  More productive employees make better products, which leads to more and happier consumers.  Happier customers lead to more loyal consumers, which lead to more overall profits and success.  I can only speak for the Panthers on this topic, but I assure you that they are among the best in the business in this area.

Ultimately, South Florida sports teams have done an excellent job with the fickle market they have been given.  The Heat have self-generated a superior, exciting product and offer amazing perks for consumers.  The Marlins are listening to the consumers and trying to meet their needs, in addition to thinking of new ways to bring fans closer to the game and make the game more enjoyable.  The Panthers, in addition to a stellar culture and a “family focused” in game environment, look past the sports aspect, and into the entertainment side of the business in order to generate additional excitement and revenue for their organization.  In all, these are three great case studies in sports management, and three great sports organizations despite the fickle South Florida fan base.

– Michael

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 18, 2013 4:15 am

    Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant idea, piece of writing is pleasant, thats why i have read it fully

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