Best Contest or On-field Promotion:
What promotion or contest is the most entertaining. For example, a “Chuck-a-puck” contest. This is a repeatable on-field or video promotion held in-game. Consider entertainment value, creativity, local connections, sponsorship possibilities, cost, and repeat-ability.
Winner: Beat the Freeze (Atlanta Braves)
This category ran away from the competition like that Freeze guy runs away from contestants in Atlanta. We use that analogy because Beat the Freeze literally broke into the main stream discussion in perhaps a way no other contest ever has.
In 2016 the Braves discovered they had a world class track athlete (Nigel Talton) working on their grounds crew. In the final game of 2016 they let him participate in a contest to swap out second base…which he did in record-shattering fashion to the delight of the crowd. When the Braves were looking for a new contest for a frozen drink they just had to connect the dots to find this greatness.
SunTrust Field fans were quick to take to this promotion, which became a “stay in your seats for this inning break” thing…then one overly confident fan’s pre-finish line celebration created a moment for the ages and launched the promotion into the stratosphere.
this is the funniest thing that will happen at a sporting event this year pic.twitter.com/f6Yq9lErin
— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) June 10, 2017
Soon after you had about the same chance of seeing how the Freeze fared on ESPN as you did getting the results of the Braves game.
The entire production is masterpiece theatre by the Braves who took the Live Race to an entirely new place and firmly took hold of the Best of 2017 Award for Best Contest. The Gameops.com Panelists LOVED the Freeze calling it a “legitmate sensation and one called it their favorite on-field promo of all time.
Honorable Mention: Usher Base Race (Tulsa Drillers)
In light of the Freeze the Tulsa Drillers found another race that delighted fans, this time all without the world-class speed of a talent like Nigel Talton. Instead the Drillers enlisted the help of their Ushers to race fans, with the great twist that the Ushers are racing for their sections.
The charm of this promotion and its ability to be duplicated held strong appeal for several panelist who even liked this more than the Freeze, using these lovable “Stadium Celebrities” to create a memorable moment.
Also receiving acclaim this year was the Celery Race with the Buffalo Bisons who cashed in on the 0-449 mark Celery had posted in his first 449 “Wings, Celery and Cheese” Race.
- Best of 2016 – Money Hungry Hippos (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Best of 2015 – Chick-fil-a Fowl Shot (Washington Wizards)
- Best of 2014 – Eat, Drink and Play (Gwinnett Braves)
- Best of 2013 – Pittsburgh Pirates The Great Pittsburgh Pierogie Race N’at
- Best of 2012 – Washington Nationals President’s Race
- Best of 2011– Sue Bird Racing
- Best of 2010 – Kiss Cam (MN Twins)
- Best of 2009– Sausage Race (Milwaukee Brewers )/Presidents Race (Washington Nationals)
- Best of 2008– Chuck-a-Puck(Fort Wayne Komets)
- Best of 2007 – Presidents Race (Washington Nationals)
- Best of 2006 – Inflat-a-Bull Races (Chicago Bulls)
- Best of 2005 – Florida Lottery Beach Ball Promotion (Orlando Magic)
- Best of 2004 – Human Sling Shot Hockey Puck
- Best of 2003 – Sausage Race (Milwaukee Brewers)
- Best of 2002 – Parachute Prize Drop
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
Also on Gameops.com
See The Store at Gameops.com where we have many turn-key sponsor-friendly promotions and game entertainment resources available, like Build-a-Burger, Parachute Drops, Chuck-a-Puck and the World’s Largest Cornhole Game.
A mascot whose work was creative and enthusiastic, serving as a valuable tool for their team and in their community. Consider ability to engage and entertain fans, create fresh innovative content, and create a multidimensional character who is effective in-game, in-community, online, and through social media. All sports team characters and college mascots are eligible.
Winner: Stuff (Orlando Magic)
For the second straight year Orlando’s green dragon has come out on top of the furry mountain of talented mascots. Stuff has been a notch above his NBA brethren with really strong creative writing and unmatched physical skills. He has the rare combination of crazy athletics that can hype the crowd along with the ability or leave them laughing with a clever video. One panelist noted “Stuff had the best reel (see below)”…which was likely due to Stuff is doing the best stuff. Orland may not have a winning team on the court, but their mascots is a winner and on a roll dominating the game operations and entertainment scene.
One panelist had the opportunity to work with Stuff directly and noted his professionalism away from the crowd and his understanding of the goals of the event they were working. Stuff put his creative energy to making the event great over trying to make himself the star of the show.
Honorable Mention: Phillie Phanatic
Stuff was the only large bright green furry creature getting out attention this year. The Philllie Phanatic continues to set the bar for professional mascots.
One team executive explained “The mascot business is all about innovation based in imitation. A lot of what 90% of mascots do the Phanatic already DID. One of the all-time greats that still stays relevant and never rests on laurels. Hard to argue with this pick.” And he’s right. He’s not just executing the classics well, he’s writing the classics still.
Another panelist proclaimed, “Anytime you have a chance to vote for the Phanatic, you vote for the Phanatic.”
Also getting love from our panel were The Gorilla and Gnash.
and if you want the full story of the Phanatic:
- Best of 2016 – Stuff- Orlando Magic
- Best of 2015 – Orbit – Houston Astros
- Best of 2014 – Orbit – Houston Astros
- Best of 2013 – Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls)
- Best of 2012 – Benny the Bull (Chicago Bulls)
- Best of 2011 – Rocky (Denver Nuggets)
- Best of 2010 – Thunder (Lake Elsinore Storm)
- Best of 2009 – Thunder (Lake Elsinore Storm)
- Best of 2008 – Timber Jim (Portland Timbers)
- Best of 2007 – Parker (Fresno Grizzlies)
- Best of 2006 — Raptor (Toronto Raptors)
- Best of 2005 – The Coyote (San Antonio Spurs)
- Best of 2004 – The Gorilla (Phoenix Suns)
- Best of 2003 – Squatch (Seattle Sonics)/Clutch (Houston Rockets)
- Best of 2002 – Rocky (Denver Nuggets)
- Best of 2001 – Rocky (Denver Nuggets)
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