Floorball is hockey without being hockey. While they are similar they are different. For most Floorball is familiar enough that their previous experiences with a variety of stick sports makes is an easy sport to pick up. One of the advantages to the sport is its versatility in game play, location, field size, and equipment. This is a big advantage to the sport, but also an advantage for those in the hockey world who see the benefit to the sport.
While many will look to use Floorball as a program in conjunction with their other offerings, others will look to use it as a promotional tool. We see things like this being done in a variety of capacities. Go to a minor league or major league baseball game. They are filled with activities to engage their customer who is now in a defined space inside the ballpark. It’s a perfect match. They allow opportunities for kids, specifically, to live out the fantasy of being an MLB player. Many ballparks around the country use this nostalgia as a means to entertain young families whom they rely on to buy tickets, but it also serves to inspire the next generation of potential players. That’s a big connection to make especially when you’re looking for any advantage to continually fill a large stadium.
While many people think the game on its own is the draw they are missing the point. In truth for many sports it’s the ancillary components to the experience that make it just that, an experience. It’s the fan experience that people ultimately remember, and for kids they remember the experience far more than they’ll remember the outcome. My kids are no different. I love taking them to just about any sport we can go to. I can guarantee that they will remember the time they played stick ball in the kids zone at Jacobs (Progressive) Field in Cleveland during a rain delay more than they remember the outcome of the game. They talk about it constantly. This stuff matters, the challenge for each sport is to figure out how to engage the fans as much as possible. Indoor sports in particular have a challenge in doing this because of their limited space.
There’s a reason why sports often sell the “family atmosphere”. They need to because people with kids want to go to events, but they also want things to keep their kids engaged. If you don’t believe me take a 2 year old to any sporting event and see how long that holds their attention. More often than not it’ll be a challenge no matter how good the game is. My kids 3 & 6 love going to hockey games, partly for the hockey, by really so they can spot the mascot (thank you WHL Hockey, Silvertips, Chiefs, and Thunderbirds). The experience matters. What’s worked in the past is fine, but why not push yourself to think outside the box. While many organization will focus on engaging the family, it’s helpful to also think outside the box when trying to engage corporations, and other groups to engage with your brand in different and meaningful ways. If there’s one thing I’ve grown to love about sports, it’s seeing people thinking outside the box to make the experience that much more fun.
I think Floorball can be that fan engagement/experience for hockey. Floorball can be set up in a relatively small space and can be played by anyone. The sticks in particular are a draw for many because they look similar to a hockey stick, but have far more performance that a traditional floor hockey stick. We’ve seen this done in the past with the Dallas Stars, who have been using Floorball for some time to engage fans prior to a game, even setting up courts right in front of the arena.
From a group sales angle, Floorball could be used a component to the game day experience. Set up a mini rink and let your groups come to the game early to play. At that point you could build in an option to have a player stop by, who knows. It’s trying to think outside of the box to make the experience that much better. It could go even further where there are corporate tournaments happening with the winner getting a box for the season, or a game, or whatever. The options available to use Floorball to link hockey are out there. What’s even better is that it can easily be adapted to the space available. Floorball games, events, and competitions could be used in the off-season to drum up interest and keep hockey on people’s minds throughout the year, but targeted towards groups. There are a lot of options out there, but I think Floorball can be used in some unique ways to engage groups as part of the overall experience. I can’t wait to see what people will come up with. If you want some other ideas feel free to contact us and we can help.