Fan-first approach of Diablos Rojos



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Othon Diaz on Coliseum LATAM Image: Diablos Rojos & Othon Díaz

The Diablos Rojos del Mexico is a professional baseball team in the Mexican League based in Mexico City, Mexico. The team was founded in 1940 by Salvador Lutteroth and Ernesto Carmona.

The Mexican League is a professional baseball league based in Mexico and the oldest running professional league in the country. The Mexican League has two affiliated minor leagues, the Liga Norte de México and Mexican Academy League.

Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú is the home baseball stadium of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico in Mexico City, inaugurated on March 23rd, 2019. With a capacity of 20,576 seats, it became the first stadium built in the City in the last 50 years.

Othon Díaz, Executive Vice-President, Diablos Rojos, Mexico, shares with ‘Coliseum’ in an exclusive how the Mexican League team put their best foot forward to ensure the spectators celebrate a unique experience in their residence – Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú – and how they want fans’ stadium experiences to be more memorable, personal and interactive.
 

Entertainment quotient

Othon Díaz asserted that the ‘Mexico City Red Devils’ are not just trying to play the game of baseball and sell the sports per se but they are trying to keep the entertainment quotient high through the game – “We are trying to develop a concept of entertainment through sports that gets translated into one-of-a-kind experience for fans. Of course, the winning factor is still high on our agenda and if you don’t win matches, you end up losing your fan following.”
 

Fans-first policy

The Diablos Rojos del Mexico is pulling out all stops to provide the fans an enthralling experience. Earlier, the club used to just concentrate on the game. Today, satisfaction with the stadium experience is also what matters for fans apart from enjoying the game and Díaz stated that they realized this aspect and tried to adopt a red carpet rollout strategy for fans starting from VIP experience to premium facilities for supporters at the Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú.

Stated Díaz, “There is marked difference between a fan and a client. A client can switch his loyalty at any point of time but a fan will always remain a steadfast fan.”
 

Earning clients’ loyalty

Added Díaz, “In order to earn our clients’ loyalty, our team should be able to show their prowess on the baseball field and match up to the standards of Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States. We boast up to 60 players that play in the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in the United States and 33 players who were a part of the MLB team in the United States and this works to our advantage in earning clients’ loyalty.”

While the Mexican League’s teams are not affiliated with the MLB clubs, some have signed working agreements with the MLB teams.

Baseball is also all about business and earnings because at the end of the day the gate-related revenues keep the financial wheels of a club running. To attract clients as well as the present crop of fans – Generation Z – the stadium’s outward appearance as well as its facilities should be as such that it casts a spell on them.
 

Soccer challenge

Díaz informed that soccer throws up a huge challenge to baseball in Mexico as the former enjoys a huge fan base.

Though soccer still remains by far the most popular sport in Mexico, nevertheless, baseball has, over the years, been able to carve a niche for itself and falls in the category of the five most popular sports in the country today – the others being soccer, boxing, basketball, and rugby.

He continued, “We also have to look at the business side of baseball, because if the stadium earnings are not handsome, we cannot afford to hire top-notch players. We are taking all possible initiatives to ensure that the ‘Mexico City Red Devils’ home venue is a packed house and the team has a huge following in the social media platforms.”
 

Social media platforms

Social media in professional sports is like a two-way street. Not only does it facilitate fans to engage with a game, particular player or team, but it also provides a platform to those players and teams to get back to their die-hard fans. Professional sports leverage social media platforms for marketing to their consumer. For the sports marketer, the social media can be a powerful tool.

The ‘Mexico City Red Devils’ have increased their visibility on the social media platforms and they have tasted success in this regard in terms of huge turnout of fans in their home venue and attracting sponsors and landing plum deals.
 

Grants

Díaz informed that the team started showing its playing prowess on the field and grants started to flow in – “A lot of our teams in the baseball league, we survive through grants that are provided by the owners or big baseball leagues. They give these grants or support to the minor leagues and they use these funds to survive. Basically, the minor leagues try to stay afloat with the help of grants given by the major leagues.”

Diablos Rojos does not just want to survive on grants provided by the major leagues or the owners – “We are trying to make our sponsors more visible in the baseball field during the games and in the leagues. We are also trying to cash in on the 80-year history of the club (the team was founded in 1940) by providing information nuggets on the team’s past.”

Added Díaz, “Baseball is a game which is followed by men and women hardly follow it. Through our social media platforms, we are trying to reach out to the different segments of our fan base, trying to create a publicity blitzkrieg as regards the game so that we can attract female fans too. We are also trying to provide the best of food and beverage services in our stadium. By taking all these steps, we want to become more reliant on ticket window earnings and sponsorship money rather than relying solely on grants.”
 

Fans’ experience

Experiences have always been at the heart of the entertainment business and sporting events are no exception. There is greater inducement to fans’ repeat attendance when they have good experiences in the facility.

Though the long-term financial health of any sport facility is directly affected by the quality of the sporting event, it is also dependent on the spectator experience. In this age of HDTV and surround sound experience, when viewers can catch the same event on television, the stadium has to offer much more to motivate fans to come all the way to the stadium to watch the game.

Díaz pointed out, “In Mexico City, there are more than 2,000 events the same day that we have a baseball game. This is why we want our spectators to experience an exalted experience in our stadium -everything from selling merchandise to spending time with the mascot. Everything that has to do with fan engagement and experience inside the stadium.”
 

Niche market

Díaz further pointed out that sponsors get attracted to a team only if it enjoys a robust relationship with the print as well as the electronic media. Moreover, the team also needs to enjoy a huge fan base – “We carried out a study with the help of few consultant firms and we found out about our different clientele – one is the loyal fans who buy membership for all baseball seasons, the second is the community who lives in and around the stadium and wants to come and spend time in the arena and the third is the family group who prefers to come to the venue on a Friday and let their hair down as they do not have to worry about going to work the next day. So, we have to approach all these three groups in a different manner so that they enjoy memorable moments in the stadium and for which our stadium needs to be armed with all kinds of plush facilities.”
 

Media-savvy

Diablos Rojos has entered into tie-ups with the big electronic media houses in the country which has given them more visibility and exposure and they have an app that allows “us to broadcast our own games on radio, on the Internet. This way we have a greater presence across the country”.
 

Squeaky clean stadium

The Mexican League team believes in keeping its stadium spic and span because only a clean stadium will ensure more crowds who would like to spend more hours in the facility even after the game is over. For fans’ entertainment, the team have out-of-the-box ideas in place like karaoke where people sing in the stadium and it is a “great way to keep fans engaged and even if it is a very long game like baseball, people enjoy to the hilt even if the game goes beyond nine innings”.
 

Brand Diablos Rojos Mexico

Díaz concluded by stating, “Due to our novel marketing strategies, today, the brand Diablos Rojos Mexico has 26 strategic partners. We have met their expectations so far which is why they support us and in the future we want our fans also to be the owners of our team. And that’s something we have been working hard towards achieving.”

The Diablos Rojos Mexico believes in making the fan feel at home not only through elevated stadium experiences but by also making them an integral part of the entity.

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