Metro, Featured Story

Red Sox Reach Out to Students to Popularize 9s Initiative

While the professional baseball season only overlaps with the school year for a total of around three months—one month in the spring and, ideally, two months in the fall—the Red Sox are looking for more ways to attract college students to the ballpark.

With group ticket discounts and a $9 ticket with a student ID, cost is no longer a barrier for students.

In April 2014, the Red Sox introduced a $9 ticket for high school and college students called Student 9s. This initiative is one of the many discounts that the team offers students in an effort to tap the lucrative market of college students in the greater Boston area.

Two years after this initiative was pushed, the Student 9s is still news to many students.

In an effort to both raise awareness about what the Red Sox is doing as a business, as well as gain feedback from college students in the area, the Red Sox brought a group of around 20 students from surrounding colleges to Fenway Park.

Within the group, three had heard of the Student 9s initiative. For less than the price of a movie ticket, any college or high school student could go to a Red Sox game, but word of it has barely spread.

Adam Grossman, the chief marketing officer for the Red Sox, said that their dream is for a college student from somewhere else, going to college in Boston, to come root for the Red Sox. He called it the “diaspora of the Red Sox nation.”

“Whether you’re 4, 14, or 24, we think if you spend one game at Fenway, you’ll become a Red Sox fan for life,” Grossman said.

This explains the $9 tickets that the Red Sox are offering. The Red Sox want to grow a relationship with the college students with the short-term desire of getting them to Fenway, and the long-term desire of inspiring them to become a Sox fan for life.

Their core mission is to grow the next generation of fans, and their highest priority is access to games.

“You guys are a hard market because everyone wants you,” Grossman said.

Student 9s is not the only initiative that the Red Sox have put in place to reach the lucrative college student market.

The Red Sox have a number of group sales and events in place to appeal to the college student demographic, including Freshman Night, which also features a career fair for anyone interested in the sports industry, Alumni Nights, and various events for fraternities and sororities to take advantage of.

The Red Sox are also amid a mobile initiative, which could appeal to students who shake their heads at the trek to find a printer to spend $0.50 printing. Their mobile initiative will also give them more data on who’s actually entering their ballpark.

Instead of having someone enter their information to buy a ticket and recording that data, only to have that customer sell the ticket to someone completely different, the mobile initiative will let the Red Sox know exactly who is coming to Fenway, making it easier for them to figure out how to bring a rewards program to college students, which is a huge goal of theirs, according to Kurt Zwald, BC ’06, senior manager for business development.

The drawback, however, is that many season ticket holders are older, and less comfortable with a mobile ticket.

“The conversations that we have with season ticket holders are much like the ones you have with your parents in terms of how to use an iPhone,” Zwald said.

To keep the conversation around the Red Sox flowing on college campuses, the team has enlisted college students to become student ambassadors for them, said social media coordinator Kelsey Doherty.

For the three months that major league baseball overlaps with the academic year, the Red Sox are urging students to substitute a night at the movies with the cheaper alternative of a Fenway experience.

Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor

April 20, 2016