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(Mktg of Sports--Intro) Kelley_JSM_1999



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An executive summary for managers and executive readers can be found at the end of this issue Franchise relocation and sport introduction a sports marketing case study of the Carolina Hurricanes fan adoption plan Scott W Kelley Associate Professor of Marketing School of Management Gatton College of Business and Economics University of Kentucky Lexington Kentucky USA K Douglas Hoffman Associate Professor of Marketing College of Business Colorado State University Fort Collins Colorado USA Sheila Carter Marketing Manager Carolina Hurricanes Hockey Club Morrisville North Carolina USA Keywords Sport Marketing strategy Franchising Leisure Services marketing Abstract Franchise relocation and sport introduction are becoming commonplace in professional sports However many franchises have found that developing fan acceptance is often challenging The fan adoption process is presented as a systematic framework that guides strategy development from creating fan awareness through adoption An examination of the Carolina Hurricanes inaugural season 1997 1998 provides a variety of examples of how marketing strategy evolves throughout the fan adoption process Introduction Franchise relocation and sport introduction the introduction of a sport to new markets are becoming frequent occurrences across sport categories Fan acceptance of these new home teams is crucial to the success of these multi million dollar moves and introductions The consumer adoption process provides sports marketers with a systematic framework for the development of strategies that facilitate fan movement from the awareness stage to the adoption stage When implemented effectively the fan adoption plan converts potential fans into avid fans Case study methodology In this paper we utilize a case study methodology to investigate a sports franchise s marketing activities directed toward the facilitation of fan adoption Case study research methods have been advocated by a number of researchers in the social sciences e g Bonoma 1985 Eisenhardt 1989 Yin 1989 Case study research is particularly appropriate when the phenomenon under investigation does not lend itself to quantification and is difficult to study outside of its natural setting Bonoma 1985 In general these methods also offer the benefits of currency and high generalizability Bonoma 1985 Consequently the case study method utilized in this research seems particularly appropriate and was designed and executed with the intent of shedding light on the marketing of new and or relocated sports franchises and the introduction of a relatively new sport to locations that are unfamiliar with the sport being marketed The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at http www emerald library com JOURNAL OF SERVICES MARKETING VOL 13 NO 6 1999 pp 469 480 MCB UNIVERSITY PRESS 0887 6045 469 Specifically the marketing activities of the Carolina Hurricanes Hockey Club during their inaugural season 1997 1998 are examined Strategic marketing activities A case study of the Carolina Hurricanes marketing program provides marketing academicians with insight as to how future research pursuits might be tailored to enhance our understanding of the marketing of new or relocated sports franchises as it pertains to the fan adoption process This case study may also prove to be a useful teaching tool for academicians and a learning resource for practitioners Ultimately it is hoped that the strategic marketing activities discussed here will provide a link between sports marketing academicians and practitioners that will be mutually beneficial This research is organized as follows First some background information concerning the Carolina Hurricanes Hockey Club is provided Second some unique marketing challenges associated with the Carolina Hurricanes are discussed Third the marketing activities of the Hurricanes during their inaugural season are presented and discussed in the context of the fan adoption process followed by research implications resulting from this case study Historical background The history of the Carolina Hurricanes dates back nearly 30 years In November 1971 the World Hockey Association WHA awarded a franchise located in Hartford Connecticut This franchise was formally named The Hartford Whalers in January 1972 The Whalers competed quite successfully in the WHA through the 1978 79 season On June 22 1979 the Whalers joined the National Hockey League NHL along with three other WHA hockey clubs as the WHA was disbanded The Hartford Whalers were members of the NHL from the 1979 80 season through the 1996 97 season Carolina Hurricanes 1997 98 Media Guide 1997 Original franchise On May 6 1997 Peter Karmanos the chief executive officer and governor of the Hartford Whalers Hockey Club announced that the Hartford Whalers had reached a 20 year lease agreement with city officials in Raleigh North Carolina At this time it became official that the Whalers would be relocating to North Carolina for the 1997 98 hockey season The process of relocating the franchise was complicated by the fact that there was not a hockey arena that met NHL regulations available in Raleigh at the time of the announcement As a result the hockey club would play its games in the Greensboro Coliseum until a new arena was built in Raleigh Greensboro is approximately a 90 minute drive from Raleigh On June 1 1997 the Carolina Hurricanes set up their corporate offices in Morrisville North Carolina The team name colors and logo were introduced at a press conference held on June 16 1997 Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena on June 21 1997 This will be the permanent home of the Carolina Hurricanes beginning in the 1999 2000 NHL season On October 3 1997 the Carolina Hurricanes played their first regular season home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Greensboro Coliseum This was a landmark event in the five month long odyssey of moving the operations of the hockey club from Hartford Connecticut to North Carolina Early marketing challenges In their first season the Carolina Hurricanes faced several challenges that are becoming increasingly common in today s sports marketing environment However many sport franchises have had a difficult time overcoming these 470 JOURNAL OF SERVICES MARKETING VOL 13 NO 6 1999 initial obstacles that hinder fan acceptance For the Hurricanes the most problematic challenges arose from several circumstances including the relocation of an


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