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After successful name rollout, Chicago Dogs seek long-term success

The Chicago Dogs couldn’t have asked for better results when they unveiled their name on July 28.

The naming was picked up by outlets all over the city’s media landscape. There were apparel giveaways, cheap hot dog deals, and the kind of word-of-mouth buzz that’s invaluable for new teams. Social media was flooded with jokes, puns and generally positive feedback about the name and logo that connects the nascent minor-league baseball franchise with a beloved civic food.

“We were very excited by the positive response. We felt that we had the right name and the right fit for our vision,” said Shawn Hunter, one of the co-owners of the Rosemont-based team that will begin play in 2018 in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. “Our goal was to choose a name and a brand that was very Chicago, very fun, had an authentic relationship with the people that live here.”

That’s all well and good, but the buzz from an impactful name rollout doesn’t guarantee a franchise’s success. The next and more important challenge will be to make the Dogs a long-lasting viable sports option in a city that’s stocked with major- and minor-league options, and well after the bump from the name is gone.

In an interview with the Sun-Times, Hunter detailed the Dogs’ plan.

Hunter said the franchise began building relationships with sponsors and youth baseball and softball organizations last December and that the name release was “really a giant door opener that accelerates all those relationships.” The $60-million, 6,300-seat stadium’s name will be announced after Labor Day, and some corporate partnerships will be unveiled before the holidays. The ticket side is using “very targeted” sales and digital marketing campaigns, which Hunter said is easier because the franchise has a name.

By the end of this year, Hunter said the franchise will do more digital advertising, along with traditional print, radio and television. Then after the new year and before opening day in May, the Dogs’ marketing will be ramped up further.

“We’ve been very quiet since probably December but very active,” Hunter said. “Now that we’re out there it makes it much easier.”

Hunter expects the team to appeal to families because of the ballpark experience and affordable prices, to millennials because of the entertainment options at the stadium, and to baseball fans who live within a 15-mile radius.

Hunter has served as president of Anschutz Entertainment Group and also the Phoenix Coyotes. Fellow co-owner Steven Gluckstern previously owned the Coyotes and New York Islanders.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.

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