Columbus Pro Sports Teams Get Ad Boost.

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Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman accepts Clippers jersey and hat from Clippers General Manager Ken Schnacke(Photo: Tom Borgerding/ WOSU)
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman accepts Clippers jersey and hat from Clippers General Manager Ken Schnacke(Photo: Tom Borgerding/ WOSU)

The Greater Columbus Sports Commission says it will spend up to $75,000 on a digital billboard campaign. The ads are designed to boost home attendance at Blue Jackets, Clippers and Crew home games.  The commission’s effort is part of a plan to bring more high profile sports events to the city.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman says the commission’s efforts to put more fans in Huntington Park, Crew Stadium, and Nationwide Arena has a double edged benefit.

“What this is about is the spirit of Columbus.” Says Coleman. ” To support major league sports in our town, we’ve got to step up, so game on.”

Both the Crew and the Blue Jackets have struggled to fill seats at their stadiums. The Clippers attendance spiked after the opening of Huntington Park two years ago. And the team remains a top draw in the International Baseball league. Sports Commission Executive Director, Linda Logan, says the electronic billboard ad campaign will run 30 weeks. It will promote specific home games for each of the three teams and will be targeted to casual sports fans who may go to one or two games each year.

“So, we haven’t done any major research on this. I guess it was something kind of from the gut feelings that we think that our community can come out and support.” Logan says. “If you do go to one game a year, why not come out for a play-off game or a home opener that you might typically not go to.”

Even though the Blue Jackets, Clippers, and Crew will be co-branded by the Sports Commission,  each team says it will continue separate marketing efforts to sell more tickets. Blue Jackets marketing chief, John Browne, says the N-H-L team will keep its “See it Live” campaign  in a bid to fill more seats. Early on, the team played to sell out crowds. But last season, its tenth,  attendance fell to an average of 13,000,  leaving about 5,000 empty seats per game.

“I guess our ultimate goal would be to sell out every game of course. But, we believe attendance will continue to grow. Certainly team performance has something to do with that.” Browne says. “We’re also always trying to get more and more aggressive from a marketing and promotions perspective.”

At the sports commission, Logan says such image and spirit campaigns will help its effort to bring more major league sports events to the city. Logan says the commission wants to attract the N-H-L All star game, the major league soccer all star game,  and the triple-A all star game to the city. First, she says, it must show Columbus’ sports fans support their home town teams.