The storyline of the New York Mets has resembled a pendulum, and now it’s finally swinging in the right direction. The team recently achieved sole possession of first place in the National League East for the first time since 2008, and while they haven’t won a World Series since 1986 or reached the playoffs since 2006, they have a good shot to be playoff-bound this fall.
One constant has been a core base of diehard fans, but the team also needed to woo new and casual followers during all the lean years. They managed to do so through an array of novel promotions encompassing ballpark experiences, merchandise giveaways and good ticket deals.
Among the experiences are annual Citi Field sleepovers, offered since 2013, where 500 fans camp out on the playing field during away games and watch a Mets road game on a Jumbotron. Attendees are also treated to a meet-and-greet with Mr. and Mrs. Met. For Bark at the Park nights, dog-loving fans bring their canines to the game and enjoy a dog parade, with part of the profits going to pet-related charities. Other special nights include pre-game concerts and fireworks.
While merchandise giveaways are common at baseball stadiums, the Mets free shirt Fridays have been a popular way to start the weekend. One promo in particular has been a good fit from a name and appearance standpoint: a garden gnome resembling pitching star Jacob deGrom.
Based on recent stats, these marketing efforts have gained more traction in the past year. Best of all, now that the team is surging and overall attendance is rising, its execs are sticking with all the offerings to keep rewarding their loyal fans.
In an interview with Newsday, Lou DePaoli–the Mets EVP, chief revenue officer and overseer of promotions–reported that in the team’s first 56 home games, attendance is up over 10% vs. last season. That represents the sixth-largest increase in MLB, per another industry source. DePaoli said weekend attendance has been especially strong, with numbers up nearly 20% since last year, and is expected to rise further in the coming weeks.
Yet despite the attendance success, for a limited time the Mets still waived fees for fans buying tickets for remaining home games.
As DePaoli told Newsday:
“We never even gave a second thought of pulling back the no-fees promotion or some of the other family friendly things that we do. That’s who we are. And those are the things you do to keep fans coming. Whether we’re winning or losing, we would still have the same promotion . . . We’re not changing anything, we’re going to keep doing what we do because it works. It’s just now it’s working to a grander scale… We’re very happy that we’re up 10 percent. We’ll have to see what the remaining 25 games can do for us.”
Sounds like a win-win for the spectators, their dogs, concertgoers, overnight campers, avid gardeners and, naturally, the players.
(Images courtesy of NY Mets)