The Cleveland Indians are just one of the many MLB teams suffering from low attendance numbers early in the 2010 campaign but a twenty-first century initiative may help boost the turnstile numbers. They've gone and built the "Tribe Social Deck" out by the bleachers at Progressive Field and have begun inviting local bloggers and Twitter superusers to sit, free-of-charge, and promote the team through the magic of the Internet. There is advertorial power in them there tubes!
As per Sports Business Daily:
The 10-seat section in the ballpark bleachers is being occupied each game by bloggers and other social media users and influencers with the aim of furthering the Indians' roots within social media channels. The free section, part of the Time Warner Cable-sponsored bleacher area and outfitted with wireless Internet access and a TV, is currently being used on an invitation-only basis.
What does this all mean? As the best parts of the burgeoning baseball blogosphere get closer to the mainstream media-occupied press box, yet another part is being courted by the teams themselves. The super-fan-blogger with a massive following on the Internet is worth his weight in Cheetos, and if a mid-level team like the Indians can harness this energy for their own good, then they'd be stupid not to do it.
Scott from the Cleveland sports blog Waiting For Next Year was invited to watch the Indians home opener from the Tribe Social Deck and shared his mostly positive experience, but noted some important drawbacks:
One complaint that may be heard from others that attended the Social Deck is the lack of mobile connectivity. While this may not be a problem in subsequent games due to attendance figures, the home opener provided next to zero mobile signal, making use of social media relatively difficult. Long term, the team plans on providing exclusive Wi-Fi access to the 10 individuals on the deck - something that they will be able to do through Time Warner via their sponsorship of the area.
Great job, Cleveland. You promote a blogger box with all sorts of access and then you ghettoize some nerds on a deck without actually activating the Wi-Fi. On Opening Day, no less. But what else can one expect from a terrible communications company like Time Warner Cable?