New GBL Champs: Calgary Vipers Expect More Than Title

Devon TeepleAnalyst ISeptember 17, 2009

The Calgary Vipers are the Golden Baseball League Champions, and are setting themselves up for what looks like to be a very profitable 2010 season.

Vipers President John Conrad could not be happier after his Vipers defeated the Tucson Toros three to one in the best of five series on Saturday.

“We’ve built a really good base this year,” said Conrad. “We really picked up in July and August.

“Next year, we want to get a 1,500-season-ticket base, I think that’s workable.”

Conrad also said his team should break even this year.  Viper’s owner Jeff Gidney did make that exact same claim last year after Calgary fell short of the championship when they lost in game 5.  Coincidently Conrad was inaugurated as the new President of the team to replace Peter Young who left the team shortly after the 2009 season began.

Attendance goals are obviously something an independent league team strives to hit but one few achieve.  Regular season attendance for the team averaged at just over 1,500 per game, matching the target that Conrad set, while surpassing 2008’s numbers by approximately 300.

“Realistically, last year was more like 900 (paying) fans per game,” said Conrad. “I think we’ve turned a corner this year.”

The outlook was not always as bright as the Vipers hit a low point near the end of June averaging nearly 1,000 fans a game, mostly due to inclement weather. 

Shortly thereafter the weather hit a “bright spot” and so did the rest of their season, within days over 5,000 fans attended the Tuscon Toros series and since then the turnstiles were in constant motion with the Vipers pulling in a regular 2,500 per game.

“Since the Tucson series, we’ve averaged about 2,500 (including the playoffs),” said Conrad. “We’re getting a lot more families now since we’ve been focusing on improving the fan experience.”

“We’ve seen lots of kids this year, and a lot of new people who hadn’t been here before,” said Conrad. “Our merchandise sales are up about 40 per cent this year as well.

“We think we’re building some loyalty.”

Loyalty yes, and a brand that can be marketed with a legitimate fan base as the Vipers also set a franchise attendance record on Sept. 4 when 4,859 fans showed up to watch Game 3 of the North Division series against the Edmonton Capitals.

Click Here to find a piece I wrote  on the current state on minor league baseball attendance in July.

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada.  He can be reached at thegmsperspective@gmail.com or devon@businessofsportsnetwork.com

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