With 81 home baseball games, it would seem that plenty of choices exist for planning baseball events at at the ball park, and the real key to success is planning early. With larger group sizes, this becomes even more important. And if you do this, your event or meeting will be a success for your group.
This doesn’t mean you can’t approach a Major League Baseball team at the last minute to determine ticket availability, but your ability to get good seats for preferred games and dates is much better in early February rather than the summer.
You’ll find that as you confirm your specific needs (i.e., size and preferred types of seats), the number of optional games for a corporate baseball outing becomes limited.
Time Required: Plan early
- Realize Where You Will Not Be Sitting. Season ticket holders, the team itself, advertisers and sponsors take the best seats: as many as 80% of the lower deck between first and third plate. That only leaves a limited number of random seats for sale in groups of two and four.
- Understand the Group Ticket Options. Most teams offer several different types of group packages with seating and food options as follows:
- Suites that hold from 12-22 guests.
- Party suites that hold 30-50 guests (which are usually located at the end of the row of suites).
- Group seating options in the outfield, upper deck or bleacher sections.
- Party areas such as party decks, tents areas and dining areas.
- Work with Group Sales. Event planners first work with group sales to identify the availability of baseball tickets. Depending on the team, the group sales representative will serve as your first point of contact in planning a baseball event. He or she will advise what options are available, given the budget and group size.
- Identify Business Meeting Needs. Many corporate events will also include a business presentation, which usually occurs prior to the game. If this is the case, it’s most effective to plan the event in a suite because most teams open the gates about two hours prior to the game. Work closely with the group sales department to identify any technical needs (such as A/V) or any corporate signage.
- Plan Catering. The team group sales department puts the event planner in touch with the catering manager, who will provide options based on the type of group package selected. An experienced catering manager will recommend appropriate quantities of food and drink to keep guests happy. Common buffet packages include:
- Deli buffet or box lunch selections.
- Burgers, brats, chicken breast, and hot dogs.
- Premium entree items, such as steak sandwiches, beef tenderloin or shrimp with cocktail sauce.
- Desert trays and/or a dessert cart visit to suites.
- Beer, wine, soda, juice and water.
- Note the Limited Reserved Parking. Parking is one of the biggest obstacles for any event planner because people like to have good parking options, but rarely are enough passes available. It’s important to speak with the group sales representative to find out what parking options are available, and request if you can purchase additional parking passes for your group. However, most teams have areas to accommodate buses for larger groups.
- Consider Potential Gifts. Plan to bring enough gifts to make sure that every attendee leaves with merchandise from your company or the team itself, such as hats, shirts, and other items.
- Build a Draft Budget & Present to Management. The event planner will have enough information at this point to go to their client and advise the options available. It’s important to convey the importance of timely decisions with your clients.
- Create Event Communications. Probably one of the least understood areas of responsibility for event planners is creating good invitations. Although the communications person will create the invitations, it’s important to provide them with very detailed information, including:
- Event agenda including business meeting information.
- Driving directions, including locations for parking passes.
- RSVP contact, phone number and email.
Tickets should be hand-delivered in advance of the game (or left at “will call”).
- Create List of Attendees.It is important to develop a master list of all attendees, and it is recommended that the hosts write a brief summary about each attendee. Often, executives serve as event hosts who may not have ever met some of the invited guests. This type of document helps them identify areas of common interest and conversation when meeting clients for the first time.
- Ship Items Prior to Game. Work with the group sales rep to properly mark and ship all event materials and gifts to the team prior to the game. Identify your meeting date and event location on those materials so that they are waiting in the suite upon your arrival for set-up.
- Arrive Early on Game Day. The event planner should work out an arrangement with the team to arrive early for set-up and establish a relationship with the catering staff assigned to your event. Your group representative should also check on your event once or twice during the game to make sure things are running smoothly.Once the game begins, that’s a time for hosts and attendees to build their relationships and enjoy the experience.
- Group Sales Phone. The phone number to a team’s group sales department is different than individual ticket sales; every team publishes the phone number to group sales on their web site.
- Catering Contracts. Most teams subcontract catering services for the ballpark, and catering contracts must be submitted usually one week prior to game day. Turn in contracts early to avoid paying concession stand rates for food and beverage.
- Rent a Limo. For smaller groups, a great way to get to and from the ballpark and make a great impression with guests is by renting a limousine.
- Attendee Gifts. Hold a raffle to give away higher priced items such as tickets to future games or higher end merchandise (e.g., team jerseys, baseball cap, baseball bat, baseball gloves, collectibles or memorabilia).
- Guess Attendance. One way to get all attendees involved in the game is to have everyone guess the total attendance, which is often announced around the third inning. The person who has the closest number could win one of the premium prizes.