Last night, the Chicago White Sox opened their Social Media Lounge. The first public accessible social media of its kind in major league baseball, the #SoxSocial space lets baseball loving techies charge their devices and relax on couches - all while watching the game on TVs. The White Sox invited me and some other folks to check things out.
The Social Media Lounge is located near the entrance to Section 154. Anyone can access this lounge, you don't need a special invite. Note that the space isn't 'that' large and White Sox management is figuring out the capacity restrictions. I foresee the need to sort this out quickly as upcoming SOX/CUBS games and special themed nights like Elvis night will bring the masses in.
There are various charging stations on the walls, which are opposite screens that are following the #SoxSocial conversation stream. You can also check out the baseball game while relaxing on some couches or high boys. The open, glass set up of the space makes for many passerbys to come in, curious with what is going on. Nice call on the White Sox to do this, but I think there could be some signage or description of the space before people walk in.
With the cost of ticket prices going up across multiple types of sports, it would be smart for team owners to incorporate this kind of in-park, publicly accessible set up. Here's why:
- Game viewers are tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking their photos and 'bragging rights' moments from the stands
- The amount of people in one park/stadium eats the battery juice of most cell phones - having charging stations for quick fill ups is a smart idea
- Including the streaming TV screens is cool, but more can be done with the interactions between players, viewers at home and people inside the stadium
- People that may not be die-hard sports fans have another place to congregate, enjoy a beer (or two) and catch up with other non die-hard sports fans
The Communications team behind the Sox Social Media Lounge did a great job with setting up the space, but the process to get to the room was a little tricky. Like many organizations, the efforts of the social media team may not be understood by the larger groups within the company. Or, it may seem like a fun 'whim' that another group is taking on. My sources tell me that sports organizations continue to pump more money into player salaries, while increasing ticket prices and taking money away from functions like marketing and social media.
Tip for team owners: if the people are going to pay higher ticket prices to see your well paid players throw a ball or whip a puck, investing in a premium public experience for your fans is the way to go. The Chicago White Sox Social Media Lounge is a solid start to what I hope is a longer line of teams implementing similar strategies.