CHICAGO -- As the Dodgers’ new ownership group prepared to take the reins of the fabled, but recently troubled, ballclub, it knew a lot of help was needed to rebuild the team's relationship with fans.
So president and CEO Stan Kasten decided to go directly to the fans to get their opinions -- instead of paying some marketing consultant to tell him what customers think. Kasten and the Dodgers recently unveiled a Fanbox initiative, designed to give the fans a voice in shaping their experience with the team moving forward. Fans are encouraged to email the team suggestions on anything and everything to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have no way to be successful unless the fans are happy with us, and it starts with finding out what they want,” Kasten told ESPN Playbook this past weekend at Wrigley Field. “Some of the things may be good and constructive, others may be impractical, but I want to know all of it.”
While attendance has waned at Dodgers games in recent years, the immediate response to the new initiative told Kasten that interest hadn’t.
Within the first 24 hours, Kasten says he had received more than 2,500 emails, a number that keeps growing as word spreads about the initiative.
“Fans want things in the ballpark different, offering us concessions suggestions and other things like that,” Kasten said. “That’s really helpful to us.”
What spurred this idea? Kasten says when he took a look at his new position, he realized there was a lot he didn’t know.
“It was just my being so ignorant about things I need to learn, and I thought this was the quickest way,” Kasten said. “When I have that information, then we can determine next steps.”
At least one of those next steps involves being more active on social media.
Kasten says the team had fallen behind the curve in that area under Frank McCourt’s ownership, and it’s something he plans on changing immediately.
“I think we’re a little behind the curve [on social media] because of staffing issues in the past, and we need to be aggressive. We’re in the entertainment capital of the world,” Kasten said. “We need to be leaders in social media. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I plan to become there.”
As far as what kinds of changes Dodgers fans can expect to see, Kasten hinted at new concessions, improved security in and around the ballpark and letting fans get up close and personal with their heroes.
“We’re also gonna do some more fan outreach like greater access to [batting practice], more opportunities for autographs, more interaction with players and fans,” he said.
Just don’t expect to see much activity from Kasten's own personal social media accounts.
“I have a Twitter account, but it’s only to follow people,” he said with a laugh. “I just saw overnight that I got a bunch of new people signing up to follow me. They’re gonna be disappointed, because I don’t tweet. Me being on Facebook would not be a constructive thing.”