Suns committed to growing fan base

Feb 18, 2012, 4:52 AM | Updated: Feb 20, 2012, 4:30 pm

The Phoenix Suns are making a commitment to get more
involved with the
community and their fans, in an effort to grow the fan
base, boost business
and bring in a younger demographic.

The newly-appointed Suns President of Business Operations
Brad Casper
joined Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf for the final
day of Newsmakers
week and revealed how the lockout tapered the planning
process from the
onset.

“When this season started, obviously in the wake of the
lockout, we wanted
to do some different things and yet we had very little
time to do it,” Casper
said. “From the time we learned we were going to play
basketball until the
time we tipped off against the Hornets, we had about
three-and-a-half
weeks.”

Casper was formerly the CEO of Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc,
the multi-
billion dollar company that acquired Dial Corporation in
2004. Casper was
hired by the Suns to succeed Rick Welts this past October.
He has
reportedly compared building a sports brand to selling
soap.

Already he has faced his share of challenges due to
restraints from the
lockout.

Even with limited time for the planning stages of
marketing this year, the
Suns were able to make their mark in the community and
interact with their
home fans on opening night at US Airways Center.

“We did some things at Grand Canyon University, where the
players were
tossing the t-shirts and they were interacting with the
fans,” Casper told
Doug and Wolf. “But then on Opening Night, something that
hasn’t been
done in years, instead of just having the players run from
the bench, let’s
have them come down from the portals, giving high fives to
all the fans in
the place.”

Casper plans to continue finding ways to increase the
Suns’ presence and
outreach in the community.

“We’ll be staging through the rest of the season several
events where we
get the players to interact with season ticket holders and
this tends to be
lower seat holders that will be there,” Casper said.
“We’ll have special,
private events with marketing partners — all the 12, 13
players will be
there to hob nob with executives from leading companies
and that is to
create that experience.”

There is also talk of creating an event equivalent to
FanFest, which would
touch a wider demographic of Suns fans, despite the fact
that the season
is already nearing the All-Star break.

Statistically, the Suns average one of the oldest season
ticket holder fan
bases in the league, according to Casper. So, one of his
primary goals for
the immediate future is to create new, innovative ways to
get fans involved
with the team at an earlier age.

“You always have to continue to fill the funnel,” Casper
stated. “We’ve got to
find ways to bring young people back into the franchise.

While Casper acknowledged the fan base must grow
organically, he and his
team of executives still intend to make attending a
basketball game
economically friendly for young families in the near
future.

“Next year we’ll probably have more $10 seats than any
team in
professional sports,” Casper enthused.

Business and basketball go hand-in-hand and Casper is
confident the
product on the court will soon match the fan-friendly
entertainment
experience at the arena.

“We want to be winners and have that club atmosphere as
well,” Casper
said.

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