It is well after 9 p.m. Millett Hall is relatively empty aside from a few ushers exiting the stadium still relishing in Miami’s earlier win against Valparaiso University. Inside a small office, members of the Miami University Sports Marketing Department gather to strategize on how to maximize on the strong play of the RedHawks.
The discussion continues as the group begins to examine ways of engaging the Miami student body and spreading the “culture of champions” evident throughout the athletic department.
These late nights are not rare for Marketing Director of intercollegiate athletics Anthony Azama and other members of the newly created department as they work to create an exciting experience for fans.
“The goal of revamping the athletic department is to keep students engaged and get students to include athletics in their college experience,” Azama said.
Although student attendance has increased by 25 percent for basketball, there is an overall decrease in fan participation, however the marketing department is working hard to ensure that Miami sporting events are anticipated social events and an alternative to studying.
To launch this initiative, the Miami Express will shuttle students to the basketball game against Ball State University Feb. 4.
“This is not just another bus to get to the game,” Azama said.
A flashback from the 1970s, the fresh take on the retro fan bus will serve as a game-day shuttle system to Millett Hall. Starting at the furthest point on campus, the bus will stop in high-traffic areas to attract the most students to the game.
The express is an attempt, Azama said, to capture the same attention for other sporting events as there is for hockey games.
And some students need more of a draw to attend games off the ice.
“I go to hockey games because they are fun, they are very interactive,” junior Nina Ferritto said. “I think the biggest deterrent to go attend other games is that they are not as interactive.”
Azama said the campaign is focusing heavily on football, hockey and basketball to create advertising that attracts fans.
“Changing the sporting competition into an event (creates) an experience,” Azama said.
Attracting more students to sporting events, Azama said, can also work to unite the campus.
“In order to be engaged, we have to have the mindset that we are one community, one campus,” Azama said.
Athletic Director Brad Bates agreed.
“It starts with the students creativity and intellect-this sets the atmosphere,” Bates said.
As part of the effort, Azama said athletics is using taglines to entice fans.
“The idea of the taglines connects the energy of what is going on with the program to the community and to campus,” Azama said. “Last year’s ‘rise up’ was a call to action to raise the level of experience. Asking fans to increase their involvement and increase attendance to games.”
Other marketing campaigns include flyers, storm the dorm campaigns, table tents in dining halls and red ‘A’ frames around campus. Students can also sign up on Facebook.com to receive exclusive information from the athletic department on giveaways and links to the RedHawks’ Web site.
Another outlet for school spirit is Red Alert, which began as a way to provide students with a consistent fan base. According to leader Brian Grisby, Red Alert has an area at every RedHawk varsity sport event for students to sign up, and partners with other groups to get more people involved.
Students can also join Charlie’s Army, which has reserved seating adjacent to the band at all men’s basketball home games.
For steady RedHawk fans, this comes as no surprise. Junior Allison Calkins said she attends game because the basketball team is good, it’s entertaining and so she can hang out with friends.
“The best memory I have from a game is the Xavier-Miami basketball game last year, when we stormed the court after a win,” Calkins said. “It made it feel like a major basketball school.”