Back over the pond

Come March, I’ll be taking a well earned break back in Fort Lauderdale.

While there, I’m hoping to try to catch a couple of Spring training games from my favourite American pastime, Baseball.

I’ve written in other posts of my following of the Tampa Bay Rays, but I’ll be spreading my wings this time, and going to see other clubs as they prepare for the 2018 season.

Ideally, I’d like to try and take in a couple of rugby league games as well, but as I will have Mrs R with me, a certain amount of touristy things will have to take precedent!

So dear reader, what spring training game in Florida should I go to? Personally, I’m thinking of a cross state drive to Fort Myers and the Twins and Red Sox.

It looks like a beautiful place to visit, not too touristy, but with plenty for a couple on their  holidays to do and see.

Schedules for the grapefruit league should be out soon, but Fort Myers is my first choice.

The rugby league World cup final takes place on the 2nd December, and its the hosts Australia who will take on England, who survived a scare in their semi final, narrowly beating Tonga, 18-20, earlier today.

Can England upset the bookies, and claim their fourth title?

My heart would love to see the squad fly back with the trophy, but my head says that Australia, under the leadership of one of the greatest players ever to grace the game, Mal Meninga, will once again emerge triumphant in Brisbane.

I’d like to wish all my colleagues who have made the trip to cover the tournament a safe and happy trip to the final and a safe journey home, especially to Gary Carter, who just two years ago was lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life after an unprovoked attack in London.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-42109316

I’m certain I’ll see you all back at Salford, Leigh, Warrington and every other stadium once the new season starts.

Until the final…

Have a great week, whaterver and wherever you happen to be in the world.

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Take me out to the ball game…

 

Tropicana Field

It’s no secret that I love baseball.

A game that first attracted my attention when I owned a pub, and Channel 5 ran live games two or three nights a week, the perfect antidote after standing and serving people all night when there was very little live sport on.

I took my family to St Pete beach in 2006, and went to watch a couple of Tampa Bay Ray (or Devil Rays as they were then) during our holiday.

I’m off to Miami in June, and will be heading to watch the Marlins, and depending on the date, might even get to see them play the Rays!

Sport is something our American cousins do well…

When we went last time, the first 12,000 kids under 14 were given a free baseball mitt. Having been in touch with the organisation before we went, we were met by one of their PR staff, who promptly gave our youngest a couple of sets of Rays shades and a tee shirt!

Add in the fact that you dont need to leave your seat to purchase food and beverages, and the whole fan experience is second to non.

We’ve made great strides in fan engagement in the last few years, but it could still be better.

Why dont we see clubs (in any sport) offering more for kids? Face painting? Pah! Parents dont want their £40 replica shirts stained.

If smaller sports want to see more younger fans through the turnstiles, offer them something meaningful.

Give primary schools free passes for each kid, just once a season, and charge parents £10. Give them a free mini ball, or signed squad photo as they come in, nothing expensive, just something to engage them and get them wanting more.

no need to give every school tickets for the same game, spread it out over the season. That way you’re not overwhelmed if everybody arrives at once.

This is how you organically grow your fan base, especially in a city where you are competing with other sports.

Sale Sharks already offer fans a food & drink to your seat app, so why not the Devils? It would certainly be a USP in Super League.