Washington Little League Uses FanFest Concept to Build Community
One of the marketing ideas used by many of the large sporting events the last few years to help draw fans to the event is the FanFest concept. Most of the events involve interactive games the fans can take part in, many times geared toward children.
Kirkland (Wash.) National Little League (KNLL) uses this concept for an annual event the local league has hosted for many years.
“Our FanFest is about having a good time and enjoying the game,” Ken McCumber, KNLL President, said. “It is an event that brings all of our players, a lot of their parents, and members of our community together for a fun day.
“We believe one of the many benefits of having a Little League program is how it connects and can bring people in the community together,” Mr. McCumber said. “This event does that. We have been holding this event for as long as I can remember.”
The day usually begins with regular-season games being played in the morning. The league then takes a break in the early afternoon to hold a ceremony where they recognize some of their teams and individuals who have helped the league prosper.
Following the ceremony, the players participate in skills contests such as a home run derby and base running and base throwing relays in which they accumulate points to determine a winning team which receives a bucket of goodies.
The event concludes with another round of local league games involving more of the KNLL teams.
The last couple years, the FanFest has also included a visit from a former member of the Seattle Mariners. In 2011, former designated hitter Edgar Martinez, a career .312 hitter who holds the team record with more than 1,200 RBI in an 18-year career spent entirely with the Mariners, was a guest at the event. This year, Dave Valle, who spent 10 of his 13 years in professional baseball with the Mariners and is now a member of their broadcast team, visited the FanFest.
“We normally hold the FanFest in May because our weather is so unpredictable,” Mr. McCumber said. “That is toward the end of our regular season, but we usually have more than 500 people who attend at some point during the day. Our facility, which has four fields in one location, is conducive to helping make the event a success.”
KNLL has nine divisions of play for almost 500 children. They have a total of 47 teams in both baseball and softball divisions.
KNLL boasts one of the most memorable Little League Baseball World Series champions. Their 1982 team won the Western Regional to earn a berth in the World Series then proceeded to defeat a team from Chinese Taipei, 6-0, in the championship game to end a six-year run of World Series champions from international regions.