Best of 2017

The Best of 2017 Awards complete with seven categories. Congrats to all our winners.

Best Entertainment Group:

Performance Group whose work was fresh, creative and interesting, serving as a valuable tool for their team and in their community. Providing quality entertainment and additional value for fans. All sports team performance groups are eligible. Consider quality, uniqueness, and marketplace value.

Winner: Knick City Dancers

The Knick City Dancers (KCD) have been setting a high bar at Madison Square Garden for a quarter-century.  With a focus on production value, versatility, and unparalleled talent their lofty goals are to stand out in New York City…and they do.  Their on-court performances are crisp and often include high-level stylized costuming.

Here is a sample, notice the polish and precision of the team and the production values that really set them apart from other NBA teams.

When a team can build their entertainment around a performance team like this it helps build their brand and adds an extraordinary amount of value to the fan experience.  In recent years the KCD have become the class of the NBA.

One panelist summarized: “When you stay at the top of the heap in terms of attendance, ticket price, and prestige while your team absolutely stinks on the court… there’s obviously SOMETHING going on at the games that works. The Knick City Dancers are bigger than just being the “Knicks’ Dance Team”. Impeccable choreography, beautiful and talented girls, and the glitz and glamour of the Big Apple and the Garden.”

Honorable Mention: Knick City Kids

For the second time in as many years the Knick City Kids pull in an Honorable Mention from our panel for Best Entertainment Group. Perhaps overshadowed by the Knick City Dancers, these kids do more than hold their own at MSG. Their crisp and playful choreographed routines are always a favorite among fans at the Garden. While many teams simply sneak by with the “cute” factor of kids dancing the Knicks are producing high-value costumed numbers that would make many NBA Dance teams blush.

As one NBA executive explained: “The Knick City Kids are head and shoulders above some of the adult dance teams in the league.”

Alsoo receiving praise from our panel include the Q Stix (Cleveland Cavaliers), NBA Dance Teams in Boston and Portland and the dancing Grounds Keepers for the Tampa Rays.

Category Winners:

Listen to the Best of 2017 Audio Round Table discussing all the categories and winners with out panel of Jon Cudo, Scott Carter and Benjamin Hill. – December 2017 Podcast

Best Game Night Promotion:

What single game or series promotion was most effective and creative, serving as a tool for teams to entertain and draw more fans. Consider creativity, entertainment value, media exposure, drawing power, and execution of the operations. We also level the playing field by considering budget constraints to minor league teams. A promotion with the ability to positively affect the entire fan experience by touching multiple areas of marketing and presentation. For example: A Military Appreciation Night which positively pays tribute to the military with a camouflage hat giveaway, military ticket discount, use of military families for in-game promotions, video package of players speaking to their appreciation for military families, and a surprise reunion of a soldier and their family.

Winner: Total Eclipse Game (Columbia Fireflies) and Bob Ross Night (Daytona Tortugas)

Two minor league teams stood above the rest this year each playing off natural phenomenons; the Columbia Fireflies’ Total Eclipse Game and the Daytona Tortugas’ Bob Ross Night

In the path of totality the Columbia Fireflies held a unique opportunity, and they seized it.  Creating a magical day at the park that included a planned 19 minute play stoppage.  They handed out special viewing glasses and nearly 10,000 people (including our panelist Ben Hill) experienced a total eclipse of the sun together.  Great example of the shared experience a community can have through it’s sports team. One panelist noted “It took a lot of forethought and planning, and the community won’t ever forget that experience…great example of the ballpark being the center of a community.”  Another playfully found it “unfair” they had a natural phenomenon as the draw, but they did and they utilized it to the max.

You can hear some of the early planning in our interview with Abby Naas from the Fireflies. [golink]1281[/golink].  This also marks the second year in a row the Fireflies have taken top Game Promotion Honors on, in only their second year in existence….not bad.  You can also read Ben’s account here.

Bob Ross is native to Daytona Florida and the team embraced Bob Ross in all of his glory for one night.  The promotion included a bobblehead, painting classes, dress-up contents in honor of the deceased former TV-show painting icon.  The team staged a 5k event in connection with the promotion along with tree plantings near the stadium. Amazing and thoughtful execution made this promotion a Best of 2017 stand out.

Honorable Mention: Alternative Facts Night

The Erie Seawolves had fun with a promotion last summer.  They had fun in the creation, the marketing and the execution and you could tell.  And that’s what its all about.  And about ticket sales…so when the team announced over 1.2 million fans would attend the game, we knew we had a promotion to watch in our Best Game Promotion category.

Alternative Facts have been around since….well, since Kellyanne Conway coined the absurd term in January.  The Seawolves ran with it from there.  They included a 2016 replica Championship Ring giveaway (even though they didn’t win that year, their opponent RubberDucks did).  They filled the night with off beat facts and folly, all while finding a way to walk the fine line of having fun with a political topic without turning off both sides.

Category Winners:

  • Best of 2023 – Ref Appreciation Night (Vancouver Giants)
  • Best of 2022 – DIY Jersey Night (Pensacola Blue Wahoos) – Dances with Wolves (Rapid City Rush) – Noche Mexicana Night (Dallas Stars)
  • Best of 2021 – Hershey Bears COVID Teddy Bear Toss
  • Best of 2020 – Hershey Bears Teddy Bear Toss
  • Best of 2019 – Helen McGuckin Night (Charleston Riverdogs)
  • Best of 2018 – Joseph P. Reilly and the Amazing Technicolor Ballpark – Charleston Riverdogs
  • Best of 2017 – Total Eclipse Game and Bob Ross Night
  • Best of 2016 – Purple Game, Purple Game
  • Best of 2015 – Swipe Right Night – Atlanta Hawks
  • Best of 2014 – Seinfeld Night – Brooklyn Cyclones
  • Best of 2013 – Star Wars Night – Toledo Walleye
  • Best of 2012 – Silent Night at Taylor University
  • Best of 2011 – Boston Bruins Military Appreciation Night
  • Best of 2010 – Salute to Bubblewrap (Lowell Spinners)
  • Best of 2009 – LeBron’s Powder Toss Night (Cleveland Cavaliers) and What Could Have Been Night (Bowling Green Hot Rods)
  • Best of 2008 – World’s Largest Pillow Fight (Kane County Cougars) and Fan Bailout Plans (St. Louis Blues)
  • Best of 2007 – Bob L. Head Bobblehead Giveaway (Portland Beavers)/150 years of Toilet Paper (Pensacola Pelicans)
  • Best of 2006 – Brazilian Carnival (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • Best of 2005 – Michael Jackson Tribute (Lake Elsinore Storm)
  • Best of 2004 – Mullet Night (Manchester Monarchs)
  • Best of 2003 – Awful Night (Altoona Curve)
  • Best of 2002 – Hawks Playoff Guarantee (Atlanta Hawks)
  • Best of 2001 – Red, White & Blue Out 9/11 Tribute (Texas A & M)

Listen to the Best of 2017 Audio Round Table discussing all the categories and winners with out panel of Jon Cudo, Scott Carter and Benjamin Hill.- December 2017 Podcast

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