WBC Chair Looks Forward to 2018
Prince George, B.C. – The quality of baseball was stellar; the weather was fantastic but the fan turnout simply wasn’t there.
That’s how Rick Pattie, chairman of the World Baseball Challenge has assessed this year’s tournament.
So where did all the fans go?
“We tried to get the word out as best we could. We upped our media representation, tried to get more print, more multi-media yet people were still asking ‘World Baseball Challenge?’ It’s very frustrating but you know it’s Prince George and Prince George is a last minute town,” he says.
“We also had lots of competition this weekend and lots last weekend that we didn’t expect.”
But despite the challenges, Pattie says they hope to bring back the tournament in 2018.
“If you had asked me on Tuesday I probably would have said not a snowball’s chance,” he says.
“But we’ve got some things in the works for 2018 already so we’re going to push forward and we’ll re-evaluate here six weeks down the road when we have our annual general meeting.”
He says all of this year’s participants have already asked for an invite back.
“The players are just amazed at the facility for one thing. It’s in excellent shape, kudos to our grounds crew for that. They’ve also been treated very well and want to come back so that’s a good sign when that happens.”
I went to one game, first time attendee and brought my kids. Love the ball, hated the seating arrangements. VIP seating in the bleachers? Really? You could have put everyone there, but you decided to gouge the customers by charging more to sit in the shade, behind home plate. So I see older people melting in the sun, in your hilarious makeshift bleachers, instead of enjoying the game from where it should be watched.
Do you feel good about that? There was 10 people in the shady stands behind home plate when I watched Japan play Roswell. 10. There were maybe 60 in the scaffold bleachers. You could have had them all in the shade, having a great time, wanting to come back for a second game, but no… stick them in the sun and heat.
And what if it was sprinkling rain? Nobody would have come out at all, to sit in your scaffold bleachers.
Serves you right for gouging, you never got a repeat customer. All the old-time baseball people in town weren’t going to be gouged to sit in the shade, and why should they? Maybe start tiered pricing when you get a decent crowd, but you guy need some serious marketing help all around before putting this on again.
I saw a couple of the older Martin family checking things out from the ugly bleachers, how did that happen? That family should be given free tickets to the best ball seats in town for all they have done for ball in this community,
Know you customers.
I think the make up of the population is just changing. We boomers are in our 50’s, sitting in the hot sun watching baseball vs sitting in our cool air conditioned home watching pro sports on a huge TV – a lot of us pick the latter. I use to go to Cougar games when I was in my 30s and 40s, now even if the tickets are free, I just prefer to go home after work.
A few decades ago you had a big group of younger people who were into spectator sports in a more enthusiastic way. Now you’ve got a bunch of older less energetic citizens who find themselves going to bed at 9:00. I know I don’t speak for everyone in my age group, but I think as a percentage of the whole, we’re a bigger number, and we’re less adventuresome. And to add insult to injury, with home entertainment becoming less costly and with more varied choices, staying home is really appealing some days.
Thank you Rick Pattie and volunteers for your dedication and hard work in preparation for the tournament. The World Baseball Challenge is a unique sporting event in PG and I hope people can make the effort to support the tournament in 2018. The committee’s primary focus in the off season should be to recruit high caliber teams from around the world not Kamloops, Calgary and Washington State. Easier said than done I know.
According to former WBC co-chair Jim Swanson, it takes more than $400,000 to put on the tournament. It will be extremely difficult for the current committee to raise a fraction of that in 2018 after this year’s poor turnout in the stands. Will corporate sponsors get the exposure they are looking for and more importantly, a return on their investment?
Stick a fork in this thing, it’s done. The “World” didn’t show up for the challenge. Whoever thought that a single A baseball tournament with 5 teams was somehow going anywhere was seriously delusional.
This is not a baseball town.
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