To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Preakness Round-Up

As Archibald noted the Preakness was missing one crucial component to the infield party -- people...I want to offer some quick thoughts because I've got a blog and can. I promise no more Preakness blogging after this.

To clarify: I don't think that banning BYOB was/is a necessarily bad idea. Nor do I think that it is necessarily the correct idea. I agree that the infield was getting beyond dangerous to a level that I've never seen anything like it before or after, and most attendees will repeat the same sentiments. That being said, there were other options to consider; like an increased security presence, selling fewer tickets, creating a separate area in the infield without the BYOB'ers, etc. Any combination of these might have been worth a try for a year before taking the drastic step they ended up doing.

Add in the curious marketing and communication blunders and you have one poorly executed event, which if it wasn't one of the biggest sporting events of the year, and on the verge of leaving the state of Maryland, wouldn't be a big deal. A couple of examples. They announced the BYOB change within 6 months of the event and handled the media roll out of the news as though they had no idea that the reaction would be overwhelmingly negative. Why not keep it BYOB for this year and one week after the race announce the change? Why do it so close to race? Makes no sense.

They also had no idea how to market the infield "party". They claim they are banning outside booze to increase the experience for infield attendees while classing up the event. Then they make it a concert, add a bikini bash and run TV spots and print ads that clearly are supposed to appeal to the college age market. Scantily clad women and reminders that there will be no limit of alcohol purchases. $1 drafts in the first 3 hours! Cheap beer for the rest of the day! If you want that crowd and their $60 dollars then don't ban the BYOB. If you want a older more sedate crowd that might gamble more and buy your alcohol then fine, appeal to them. But someone figure out what the goal is.

I think that the banning outside beer was merely a revenue play, and until the numbers come out we will have to see if they failed or succeeded with their bottom line. I read/heard reports from beer vendors that beer sales were actually slower than in previous years. Previous years when people where bringing their own beer in. To repeat -- They were doing less volume in beer sales even though they had zero competition. Not good. On a positive note, betting was reportedly up, so time will tell how the exact revenue numbers shape up. I wouldn't be optimistic if I was the Maryland Jockey Club or Pimlico.

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