Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Team Doesn't Say No On 2011 NatsFest & Winter Caravan. But Doesn't Say Yes Either

The Washington Post reported this morning Our Washington Nationals would not hold a 2011 Winter Caravan and a FanFest would be held in late March just before the beginning of the baseball season's regular schedule.

Questioning that bit of news to the team, this was the response given.

Nats320: The Washington Post is reporting the Washington Nationals WILL NOT hold a Winter FanFest or Winter Caravan this January or February in the Washington, D.C. area.  Is that true?

Nationals: We are still finalizing all of our programs and scheduling.

Now they didn't say no. But no one has said yes either.

Personally, we believe the Winter Caravan, NatFest & Hot Stove Luncheon should take place in late January or early February as a kick off to the upcoming season and spring training every single year--without exception. With so many other diversions to take a fan's interest away over the long fall & winter months in the D.C. area, it's integral that Our Washington Nationals keep Major League Baseball out in the forefront as much as possible. Meet & Greets and team sponsored events help maintain the interest level.

There is no question about that.

Year after year, these events have gotten better. And there is really no reason to stop doing so now.


Jenn Jenson said...

Thanks again for trying to get to the bottom of this.

I love the Hot Stove Lunch and will especially miss that event. Clearly the Nationals don't understand the importance of these events.

TBC said...

"Year after year, these events have gotten better. And there is really no reason to stop doing so now."

Yes there is. Uncertain weather. Other than Zimmerman, I don't believe any of the players make their offseason home in DC. Thus there's a good chance that bad weather somewhere else would prevent one or more of the scheduled players/manager/coaches from appearing. And as was seen last year, bad weather in DC can hamper the ability of fans to come out for the events.

Holding the event on or around Opening Day as was suggested in the Post makes a lot of sense. All the players are available, and the weather is likely good then. The whole ballpark can be utilized for events. Indeed, as the schedule includes an off day the day after Opening Day, that would be a perfect opportunity to hold the STH luncheon. Maybe even expand it into an outdoor picnic-type event to allow for more STH and players to be present.

JayB said...

We agree on something. I have attended each lunchon and fanfest and love them, sat with Adam Dunn last year...........but there is a reason....Lerners are really bad baseball owners. There is your reason.

Unknown said...

While I agree that the weather can be a factor, I don't think that's a reason to give up on the hot stove lunch and Nats Fest. As SBF said, there isn't much going on in the DC area to keep people interested in baseball during the winter months, and I'd rather chance the event being canceled due to weather than not even having it. Also keep in mind the last spring training game is March 29, so asking the players to get back to DC for an event on the 30th with a 1:05 Opening Day on the 31st might be a bit much.

And, I'm not an autograph person, so I enjoy throwing a pitch in the bullpen and listening to the talks by various front office personnel, so the unavailability of players would not affect my decision to attend.

Mr. NATural said...

Man I really hope they have NatsFest and the Hot Stove Lunch. These are great events--tons of people attended the NatsFest.

They need to make a public announcement soon and let people know exactly what their plans are.

Anonymous said...

I was told today that there will be a "more fan-friendly" Fan Fest closer to Opening Day and that there will not be any events this winter.

This just drives me nuts. The STH Hot Stove luncheon has been great the last couple of years. A "welcome home" luncheon would be fine, but I just don't think it will match the ability of the late January event to break up the winter and get the fans thinking baseball.

My family has attended Fan Fest with 8-10 other families the last couple years-- a great way to entertain the kids and get them more excited about the Nats. This year, I guess we'll just take them to watch the Caps or maybe we should just go to O's fest.

Being that the most likely day for the FanFest is Wed 3/30, I find it highly specious that it will be "more fan-friendly" being that it is a work/school day. I'm already taking off for Opening Day, don't think I'm going to take 2 days in a row- and clearly I'm not taking my kids out of school for this. So the kids get screwed. I envision alot of empty moon bounces and short lines for the face painting. The O's actually had their Fan Fest right before Opening Day from 2007-2009 after previously having it in Janury before then-- they're back to having it in January so clearly they recognized that a late March/early April FanFest is lame.

As far as the weather-- 25 of the other 30 teams seem capable of getting their players in to locations like St Louis, Minneapolis, Chicago, Baltimore, etc. Most teams have events with almost all of their players- think Pujols, Chipper, Lincecum-- if those teams with more established fan bases can pull it off, why can't the Nats.

The best thing we can do is call / e-mail the Nats and let them know our disappointment.

COO | Lerner Sports Alan Gottlieb
Chief Operating Officer Andrew Feffer
Director, Community Relations Israel Negron

AVM221 said...

Thanks for trying to get to the bottom of this issue. I am disappointed and wish they would make an official announcement. I guess they don't realize that some of their fans arrange their schedules around Nationals events when possible.

josh f said...

No Hot Stove Luncheon? This season ticket holder is very, very disappointed. Who dropped the ball?

Anonymous said...

Call and ask them why. It's the only way to let them know a number of people care about this.

HondoFan said...

Geez, I've read some great posts from other team boards of fanfests already completed. My reaction is that this is a last place team acting like a last place organization. Expect it.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

The Orioles are having a Winter Caravan and the weather in Baltimore isn't that much different than D.C. If the Nats think Nats Park is too inconvenient for fans to get to in January---particularly with inclement weather--then why not hold it at the D.C. Convention Center or a downtown hotel?

TBC said...

DC Convention Center and downtown hotels have to be booked well in advance. That's why.

Face it, guys. The Nats decided to go in a different direction with the Fan Fest this year. Deal with it. The season will go on. It's not like the Fan Fests in previous years were at all effective in pulling in more fans. Sure, they were fun for those who attended, but is that really the point? I always thought it was supposed to be a marketing tool. If you have a marketing tool that's not working, try something else.

paul said...

Considering how poorly Stan Kasten drew fans to a winning franchise in Atlanta and a baseball-starved city here, I wonder if the ownership is sort of blowing all the off-field stuff over and starting over, although it is also possible they are just paralyzed and don't know what to do.

I remember the winning Orioles did not draw flies in the late 60's and early 70's, then EBW bought the team, they changed flagship stations to one that advertised effectively, and the team started to draw better in the late 70's and 80's. Perhaps some sort of vision is taking place, although if it is, it is a big secret.

TBC said...

"I remember the winning Orioles did not draw flies in the late 60's and early 70's, then EBW bought the team, they changed flagship stations to one that advertised effectively, and the team started to draw better in the late 70's and 80's."

That was entirely due to the Orioles marketing themselves as Washington's team - with the help of the Washington Post and DC TV news departments. The Nats could try the same trick now and start marketing themselves in Baltimore, but I doubt it would work. Baltimore teams can draw fans from DC (the Ravens are doing it now) but DC teams will never draw anything but animosity from Baltimore fans.

Mr. NATural said...

TBC engages in a logical fallacy when he says that "It's not like the Fan Fests in previous years were at all effective in pulling in more fans." This assumes that no fans attended Nats Fest, had a great time, and bought season tickets, renewed tickets, or simply attended more games because their enthusiasm was sparked by the event. There is absolutely no way for him to know this, much less write it.

This logical mistake also assumes that ticket sales will not decrease because there is no Fan Fest this year. I believe this assumption is false also.

Setting aside my ramblings about fallacies and false assumptions, I think I can say something that TBC and all of us can agree on: If the Nationals are not going to have the Hot Stove Luncheon or the Nats Fest, they should announce it and be done with it. Thousands of Nationals fans look forward to these events, and to leave them hanging, without an official word one way or the other, is bad marketing, bad communications, and bad manners.

One final question. Suppose, in response to the growing fan dissatisfaction with the Hot Stove and Fan Fest decisions, and the non-existent communications with fans about these events, that the Nationals begrudingly decide to hold the events. Who would want to go then? Have you ever been to a party where your being invited was done more out of a sense of social obligation, than out of genuine welcome?

This thing is turning into a mess and I think the Nationals need to make a final decision, announce it, and live with it.