York's Revolution: More than a baseball team
The York Revolution minor league baseball team plays about 70 home games a season, far short of the number of days in a year.
The math says executives should pursue more business than just baseball, and that's exactly what they are doing — even going so far as running events beyond the team's home of Sovereign Bank Stadium in the city.
This fall, the staff is putting on York's annual Halloween Parade in downtown after agreeing to assume the event from YWCA York.
The parade will be a great learning experience for expanding the business line in the future, Revolution President and General Manager Eric Menzer said.
In addition, the Revolution hosted York Township-based WellSpan Health's WellSpan Family Festival earlier this month.
The festival was the first facilitywide corporate event that wasn't held in conjunction with a game, Menzer said.
Recently, the Revolution hired Adam Nugent for the new position of director of special events as part of its investment in the new business pursuits and expects to use its part-time staff more to help cover the need for additional staff hours, he said.
The main challenge going forward, he said, will be fighting the perception that the business is just a baseball team.
"You're growing or you're falling back," Menzer said. "You're never staying the same."
The beyond-baseball concept already has been part of the return of professional baseball to York in 2007.
The York County Industrial Development Authority owns the stadium, and public support used to help develop the property brings with it a mandate to use the venue for public good. This has included the facility's hosting of nonprofit events, Menzer said.
The latest incarnation goes to the next level, beyond what Menzer described as the team's role as more of a "passive host" up to this point. Now the team is getting into developing other creative programming and marketing it, he said.
"The building is about more than baseball," Menzer said. "We want our company to be about more than baseball."
The city-based YWCA York had put the word out that 2012 would be its last year running York's Halloween Parade unless it could secure major, longtime sponsorship, Chief Development Officer Jennifer Brillhart said.
The YWCA took over the event from the city several years back and, as the economy soured, the organization found it harder to get sponsorships and ended up bearing a lot of the parade's costs itself, she said.
Much time and effort also go into running such an event, which is not entirely removed from the group's mission, Brillhart said.
But at the same time, putting on a parade is not a core function either, and now it can focus on other things more directly associated with its mission, she said.
The YWCA and parade committee volunteers are assisting the Revolution with advice, materials and information from past years, Brillhart said.
"I think it's a perfect fit," she said.
Menzer said there's a market for what the Revolution can offer, because companies are operating leaner than ever and outsourcing what they do not consider core competencies of their businesses.
This option allows firms to outsource events management, which is not a core competency of health care providers, manufacturers and other companies in the market, he said.
But it's exactly what the Revolution's staff already does, including selling event sponsorships.
The expanded business plan comes now and not earlier because, Menzer said, he feels he has a firm footing in his job after being named to the position in 2010.
The WellSpan Family Festival goes back many years and had been held at the York Expo Center in West Manchester Township, said Bob Batory, WellSpan senior vice president and chief human resources officer.
The festival is for employees, retirees and their families, and a little more than 5,000 people attended Aug. 3 at the stadium despite the day's rain, Batory said.
The Revolution asked WellSpan awhile back if it would be interested in having the festival at the stadium, and the health care provider saw it as a good opportunity to mix things up a bit, he said.
WellSpan already has a relationship with the team, Batory said.
"We know them and they know us pretty well," he said.
At the same time, holding the festival at the stadium was a great way to showcase what downtown York has to offer to employees from across the region who don't ordinarily visit the city, Batory said.
The planning experience was outstanding with the Revolution, which was really responsive and came up with great ideas for different activities, he said.
WellSpan is in the planning stages for next year's event and hasn't made a location decision yet, but nothing about the company's experience this year would drive them away from the stadium, Batory said.
Eric Menzer’s experience in the York County community rather than baseball was a factor in his selection as president and general manager of the York Revolution in order to help further leverage the team’s assets.
For more on the philosophy behind Menzer’s selection from a nonbaseball background and additional information about his career, see our 2011 Powerbook installment at bit.ly/1cajiaV.