College hockey is a pretty important part of my life, considering I work for the Kent State hockey team. Kent State, however, is part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, the largest governing body of club hockey teams in the United States. I have Google Alerts for the league sent to my e-mail, and I follow our rival teams closely during the season. Some would say college hockey takes over my life between October and March, but then after the ACHA wraps up for the year, I have a whole new world of college hockey to focus on. Most Americans would think of NCAA hockey first when the collegiate level of play is brought up in conversation, but I don’t get interested until it’s time for the Frozen Four. Between the ACHA and the National Hockey League, I don’t have time for any other leagues during the regular season.
Taking it to the field
The Frozen Four kicks off today in Detroit. The semi-final round breaks down to: Wisconsin vs. RIT and Boston College vs. Miami (Ohio). For a preview of what each team is bringing to the ice, check out The College Hockey Blog. The teams will be playing at Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions football team. Fans can’t seem to get enough of ice rinks being placed on the field of other sports venues.
For the fans
Based on the schedule of event’s for the long weekend, it seems like the NCAA is making fans the top priority at the Frozen Four. Not only is there a great, one-of-a-kind venue, but each day is also full of activities to make the trip complete. On Wednesday, practices were open to the public, and today there are restaurants in Detroit designated as gathering spots for those loyal to each team. I especially like the idea of fans coming together at restaurants in the city. I see that as knowing your target audiences and reaching out to each audience in a specific way. Being able to go somewhere that has been set aside for fans who bleed the same colors is a way to bring together the die-hards.
Other events include autograph signings, fan festivals, award presentations and skills challenges. It’s clear that if you made the trip to Detroit, you’re going to get much more than a few of the greatest collegiate hockey games of the year. One of my brothers is going to be there for all of it, and I hope he takes advantage of everything the NCAA and the Frozen Four sponsors have provided.
If you plan it, they will remember
From a public relations viewpoint, I think the Frozen Four is a great example of doing everything possible to maintain current fans and reach out to new fans. Regardless of whether or not people at the games have followed hockey all their lives or just bought tickets because their alma mater made it to the semi-finals, those people at the Frozen Four will take away a true experience from this weekend. All of the extra activities will keep attendees engaged, and those memories will be linked to hockey forever.
So all of those in attendance will be able to carry a little piece of the greatest sport in the world with them for the rest of their lives. Hopefully that translates into life-long love of the game.
What do you think? Let’s chat about what was done right and what was done wrong in marketing the Frozen Four.