Why fans are winners in new Cavalry-Brave franchise
The Canberra Cavalry baseball team have turned to the ice rink in a move that will have some ramifications in the baseball and ice hockey scene in Canberra.
They have created the ACT’s first multi-sport franchise, teaming up with Canberra’s Australia Ice Hockey team the Brave.
A popular sporting model in the US, the Cavalry will become a year-round sporting organisation and fans will be the real beneficiaries when the move comes into place next month.
I sat down with Canberra Cavalry general manager Dan Amodio to talk about the decision and how it will affect fans of both teams.
Why did the Cavalry decide to go down the route of creating a multi-sport franchise?
From the Cavalry’s perspective, the biggest challenge we have is the season is short. So there’s really only 40 games which makes 20 home games and we start in November and wrap up in February and everything we do is kind of based off those three months. Which makes it tough from a revenue standpoint to make money. If we were in America, the seasons are much longer and with most sports, the seasons are much longer so you’ve got much more opportunity to do that. One of the main reasons we did it is it gives us some content in the offseason that we can continue to drive revenue through. That’s reason number one.
The other reason we did it is related to this particular brand. It’s a really great and growing brand and in their own right, they have a lot of potentials there. It’s a good mix because their management team was run differently from ours, they don’t really have employees so to speak, the guys that run it there are volunteers, they have other businesses and they run it on the side. And it has just grown to the point that they couldn’t do that anymore. That was their model and they had so much success that they couldn’t continue that on.
So we looked at it as an opportunity to grow both brands because the Brave is like the Cavalry of the winter. It’s a North American based sport with a small but really passionate fanbase here, half imports half the local talent, and the games are rocking, they are one part sport, one part entertainment and the product was a really complimentary fit. We think that it is going to be great for both sports to have this connection. More Cavalry fans are going to be going to Brave games, Brave fans will be coming to Cavalry games and it’s going to help grow both businesses pretty well I think.
How will this move benefit fans of both the Cavalry and Brave?
The main benefit I think is we get a lot of fans this time of the year asking ‘When’s baseball season?’ Because the seasons are short, they can’t get enough and they would love to have it all year round. I know the Brave guys are the same, where they wish they had a lot more content. I think that is the biggest benefit. You essentially get another sport to sink your teeth into that is run by the same people and has a similar vibe and the same community feel. So you get that extra content and along with that comes things like joint memberships and joint sponsorships and things that will help to bring initial value to the fans as well.
And then also I think even if you don’t like the other sport, if you’re just a fan of the Brave or Cavalry, this move will make both companies better individually. This will allow us to resource up and have better overall servicing for the Cavalry. And same deal with the Brave fans, they have now got another organisation that is helping run things so the overall product both entertainment wise and on the ice will improve on both sides, even if you only want to stick to the one sport.
When will all of this be starting?
It starts now! So the Brave season starts next week and our first home game here will be the 4th of May, so three weeks or so. So it starts now in a shared services way. Right now we are trying not to disrupt things too much, we are largely just going to help them out in any way that we can and every way that he can and kind of run it jointly now. The formal acquisition will happen after the Brave season and before the Cavalry season.
How successful has this model been in the past?
I wouldn’t say it is standard but it is really common in America. It’s common not only with small sports but with some large sports as well. There is an entertainment group that owns the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils, top-level sports. And all of those things I mentioned earlier, they are the same even at the highest level. There is still resource issues, there is still growth opportunities and all of those things are still very relevant. So the model we stole from a lot of American sports that do it this way, and there are also some examples here of teams that have done it. Some of the AFL clubs have acquired netball teams, actually the Adelaide Crows AFL they bought the Adelaide Bite (baseball team) as part of the ownership restructure last year. So it’s common in Australia, it happens, it’s not like the first time it has ever happened. But from what we think it is the first time it has happened in the professional landscape in Canberra.
It wasn’t something we were looking to force, it wasn’t like we were going to choose either this or someone else. It really had to be the right fit and this was exactly the right fit from a business standpoint, from a brand standpoint and the team that is running the Brave have been great and easy to work with and have been really supportive of this overall so it was a good fit in that way as well.