The Pastime Sport Of (Community) America

CommunityAmerica’s 10-year relationship with its local minor league baseball team has heightened the institution’s brand with nearly 3 million local fans.

 
 

For 10 years, the name “Community America” has been synonymous with sunshine, summer, hot dogs, and baseball. That’s because when Minnesota’s Duluth-Superior Dukes baseball team relocated to Kansas City, MO, in the late 1990s, CommunityAmerica Credit Union ($1.87B; Kansas City, MO) purchased the naming rights to the team’s home stadium. The team, now aptly named the Kansas City T-Bones in tribute to the region’s strong ties to the meat industry, has played at CommunityAmerica Ballpark since the 2003 season.

The decade-long relationship between The T-Bones and CommunityAmerica has been beneficial for both parties. The park has some of the highest attendance numbers in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball league, drawing more than 200,000 fans every year since 2003. With seven games left in the regular season, CommunityAmerica ballpark has a total attendance this year of 236,360, with an average of 5,628 a game. This puts the T-Bones second in the league in attendance. Since that first pitch in 2003, the ball park has hosted nearly 2.8 million fans, and it has plans to hit 3 million in 2014.

CACUentrance
Courtesy of Kansas City T-Bones Baseball Club

Through signage and marketing, fans are reminded of the products and services available at CommunityAmerica, and the exposure is having a positive effect on the credit union. For example, as of June 2013, its average member relationship was up 2.78% year over year to $15,456; that’s nearly double its asset-based peer average of $7,952, according to Search & Analyze data on CreditUnions.com.

Here, chief operating officer Lisa Ginter talks more about the relationship with the Kansas City T-Bones.

How did the credit union’s relationship with The T-Bones begin?

Lisa Ginter: The Kansas City T-Bones sought out CommunityAmerica in 2002 because of our name. Having the word “community” in our name spoke to what the T-Bones were all about — family, All-American. We knew the partnership was a risk, but after exploring what they were bringing to the Kansas City area and their philosophical beliefs, we knew it was a risk we wanted to take. And now, more than 10 years later, we believe the risk paid off.

What demographics are you targeting?

LG: The Kansas City T-Bones’ slogan is “Family Fun, Well Done.” At CommunityAmerica, we strongly support affordable family fun and saw this as a good fit as it allows families in the Kansas City metro a great opportunity for inexpensive family entertainment.

What are the terms of the deal? How does it benefit the credit union?

LG: As the naming rights sponsor, we receive the following:

  • A 40-person suite, which we use for employee recognition and for hosting business leaders, charities, and political figures.
  • 20 tickets per game that we donate to local fundraising opportunities as well as employee recognition.
  • A venue for our annual member appreciation event.
  • The rights to sell tickets at our branches to drive traffic.
  • Premium sponsorship location in the stadium and online.
  • Co-branded promotional items such as opening day T-shirts.
  • A premier back panel location in game programs.
  • The ability to access the T-Bones mascot for events.

How often is the credit union involved in events at the baseball stadium?

LG: CommunityAmerica always has a presence at the stadium in the way of in-stadium advertising, ATMs, and in-game radio liners and PA announcements. We also sponsor Kids Eat Free nights on all Monday night games; the first 2,000 kids 12 and younger receive a free hot dog, chips, and lemonade.

How do you maximize the public relations?

LG: Throughout the relationship, we’ve had the opportunity to do on-air interviews that air on a local radio station during the games. These interviews have given us additional exposure to members and potential members in Kansas City. In addition, we had a concourse kiosk for the first five years of our relationship, providing us the opportunity to interact with baseball fans and highlight the credit union difference. Our Kids Eat Free sponsorship, previous “pay-you-to-park” promotion, and cooperative advertising provide additional outreach.

How do you measure your investment and impact?

LG: We work with a third party to assess brand awareness, exposure, ROI, etc. Unfortunately, we can’t disclose the value or cost, but we can say it has definitely provided us positive exposure and the desired brand awareness we set out to achieve.

What do you consider when you look at renewing?

We use the findings provided by the third-party vendor to determine: if attendees were aware; did the sponsorship create a positive halo for our brand; was the entertainment value in line with our brand and brand values? In fact, after a careful evaluation, we just signed another long-term naming rights deal based on the overall value.

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Aug. 26, 2013


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