Baseball fans can now buy their way to home

Diamondbacks and Dodgers take a swing at loyalty programs

By Published on .

Got a hankering to sit in the press box during an inning of an Arizona Diamondbacks game? No problem. Just ante up $20,000.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks are two teams taking a swing at fan-loyalty programs that reward patrons who accumulate points via purchases. The atypical gifts include taking batting practice with the players, delivering the lineup card to the home-plate umpire before the game and even opening or closing the retractable roof at Chase Field in Arizona.

But it isn't cheap: Diamondbacks' season-ticket holders get one point for every $5 spent, while everyone else gets one point for every $10 spent.

"When you look at the model that the airline industry has established, you see a pattern of success," said Derrick Hall, exec VP of the Diamondbacks. "We're always searching for ways to bring greater value to our fans."

The programs-Think Blue Rewards for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks' MVP Rewards for Arizona-work like typical loyalty programs. Fans join Arizona's program for $19.95 (season-ticket holders are automatically enrolled free) and receive a membership card to swipe at a variety of kiosks when entering the park and at selected food stands and souvenir shops.

outside the park

Outside the ballpark, they can enroll any credit card into the program and accumulate points when making purchases at stores and shops affiliated with Diamondbacks MVP Rewards, or making purchases at a dedicated Web site called Diamondbacks Mall.

Both teams created the program with Boston-based Sports Loyalty Systems, which designs, operates and markets loyalty programs for pro-sports leagues and franchises. The goal is to create new revenue streams for the teams and sponsors.

"What loyalty programs are designed to do is just to retain their existing base," said Scott Todaro, VP-marketing for SLS. "It's 10 times more expensive to gain a new customer than to retain one. It's a customer-acquisition tool. Once you get those people in, now you have the ability to get them to buy, and buy more often."

Mr. Todaro said the loyalty programs are beneficial to both the team and its corporate sponsors, who already pay for signage in the ballpark or in the program. "Now, it puts metrics around it," he said. "It's revenue-driven. Not only are we driving new customers into stores, they're buying more and you're also getting retention."
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