The Meetings kicked off on Monday with the Bob Freitas Seminar, which is about seven or eight hours of idea sharing via lectures and roundtable discussions. Topics range from things like "How to Incorporate a Cash-Free System Into Your Business Model" to "How to Squeeze As Much Entertainment As Possible Into Every Half-Inning Break," and just about everything in between (the actual titles were much more catchy, but far less descriptive).
You have to pick and choose which discussions to visit, and the ones I attended were all pretty good. In my opinion, what makes them "good" is if you can glean one or two new ideas -- something you can either outright poach from another team, or something that sparks an idea to do something new, or improve something you already do. Lots of times they'll be very small things that might at first seem trivial, but actually all greatly contribute to the overall experience of a Cyclones Game (I won't bog you down with too many details just yet, but look for things like new endings to our Kiss-Cam skit, or a Make-Your-Own Sign station on the Concourse). Anyway, good stuff at the Freitas Seminar. Lots of things I think we already do well (and in some cases maybe even better than the people presenting on the topics), but like I said, if you can grab one or two good ideas, it's a success. And I alone jotted down about six or seven.
On Tuesday, we attended the New York-Penn League General Session, in which the league president, Ben Hayes, leads a discussion of several areas of interest regarding the NYPL's member teams. In addition, each GM briefly recaps the previous season and sums up any new developments for the year ahead. Steve, in particular, captivated the group with his update:
Ben Hayes: What's new in Brooklyn?In general, there's a list of mostly boring housekeeping-type stuff like new uniforms for the umpires, post-game food spreads for the players, budget updates, and rules regarding teams taking infield at the All-Star Game. Among the more interesting topics to me was the ongoing development of the controversial BAM/BIRCO agreement regarding MiLB websites, and how our site and the way we do things online might be affected. Stay tuned.
Steve: Well, we're getting new carpet in the office. (Silence.) It's blue. (At this point, I actually think I saw a cluster of tumbleweed drift by.) I'm pretty excited.
On Wednesday, we hit the Baseball Trade Show at the convention center, which is probably my favorite event at the Meetings. Vendors introduce new products, new ideas, new foods, new designs, and generally hawk their services. This is a GREAT idea-generator, as far as I'm concerned. Seeing, feeling, wearing, or using the actual products gives you a true sense of what you're buying, and what may or may not be possible. Lots of these ideas are things that will be unveiled on our 2009 Promotional Schedule. I don't want to ruin too many surprises, so I'll keep most of them secret, but things like a paintable bobblehead, a customized Slinky, and a baseball card with a game-worn uniform swatch may make their way into your summer plans.
Overall, I think it was a pretty productive trip, with some fun, merrymaking, money-losing, networking, overeating, overspending, and (over?)socializing mixed in. Hopefully we'll be able to use some of the ideas from the past week to make the 2009 season the best one yet.