Client: Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Ballpark Authority (Minneapolis)
Agency: Weber Shandwick (Minneapolis)
Campaign: Destination Target Field
Duration: November 2009–June 2010
Target Field, the new home of Major League Baseball's (MLB) Minnesota Twins, opened on March 27. Twins' executive director of public affairs Kevin Smith says the new downtown Minneapolis location posed potential traffic challenges and decided to educate fans and the public about transportation options. Weber Shandwick was hired to create a campaign to inform audiences of transportation logistics and options. “Making a good first impression was critical,” Smith adds.
Weber VP Bob McFarlin says establishing a “Strategic Transportation Communications Working Group” of about 10 public and private sector stakeholders was a key objective. “We needed to engage them rather than just tell them what we were going to do,” he adds.
The working group addressed transportation challenges and reached consensus on key messages. DestinationTargetField.com (launched on January 15) was the hub of information. Media relations and the collective communications assets of the working group also drove messaging.
Messages focused on planning ahead and using public transportation (bus, light rail, and commuter rail) or non-motorized transportation (bike and walking paths). The team also stressed a “come early, stay late” message, encouraging fans to visit other downtown attractions.
DestinationTargetField.com details transportation options. Flyers, postcards, and brochures were distributed at events and in mailings to season ticket buyers.
A press conference with Twins executives and Minneapolis' mayor was held immediately prior to opening day. Throughout the campaign, working group members conducted local and regional media interviews and spoke at numerous events. Member organizations also communicated via their individual websites, social media pages, and email lists.
Drop-ins were broadcast on Twins' radio network. Smith also participated in Fox Sports North shows that focused on transportation.
Smith says the campaign exceeded expectations. He notes that the Twins now rank sixth in MLB attendance, averaging 38,800 per game, compared to an average of less than 30,000 at the Metrodome (the Twins' former home).
“Our capacity is 39,504, so we're basically running full,” Smith adds.
DestinationTargetField.com has gotten 261,409 page views since launch. And McFarlin says MTS reports nearly 20% of fans are using trains and buses to get to games.
“The light rail ran past the Metrodome, but transit use was only 11% to 13%,” he adds. “MTS projected transit ridership would reach 20% by 2014. We've nearly reached that in less than half a season. It's unprecedented success.”
Smith adds that Target Field's bike racks (about 400) are filled every game, while the Metrodome averaged about 20 bikes per game.
Communications efforts will continue. Smith says the working group is currently mulling extending the relationship with Weber.