2011-09-29 / Editorial

Marketing the Bobcats

Marketing will become as much of a part of Houghton Lake Bobcat sports as the teams in the future with a plan to offer sponsorships to private businesses and individuals. The goal is to help offset the expenses for the athletic program, and to bolster the income the Bobcat Boosters Club raises each school year. The Bobcat Boosters have helped fund Houghton Lake athletics for many years, and at one time funded the entire athletic program, a monumental task even today. Last year the Boosters supplanted the $192,000 athletic budget with $20,000. Fees collected for “pay to play” amounted to $30,000.

For many years sponsorships through marketing have helped professional sports offset expenses, and college sports earn athletic department funds through broadcast rights as well as program and banner sponsorships at athletic events. Professional athletics is big business, rivaling the sales figures of many large corporations. College athletics is not quite as big of a business, but the big universities and athletic powerhouses count on that income to support the athletic program. If you ever wonder, look at the salaries of successful Big Ten football coaches, only two of them earn less than a million dollars a season, Bill Lynch of Indiana - $650,000 and Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern $750,000.

Marketing is the driving force behind these successful college athletic programs. If Michigan State and the University of Michigan didn’t play Big Ten football and Big Ten basketball do you really believe their enrollment would remain what it is today. Marketing allowed athletic tradition to steep into the college culture, athletics give mascots and schools recognition.

We don’t think Houghton Lake Community Schools will fill their classrooms because marketing the Bobcats will create an instant demand to attend school here, but it won’t hurt either. Sure, the athletic budget is offset to some minor extent by ticket sales but if you don’t sell the tickets you don’t pay for the program. Last Friday night’s game attendance was good despite threatening skies over Bobcat Field, and those who attended got their money’s worth in the Bobcat and Buck’s battle. But the stadium was not at full capacity so business banners along the fences could help offset some of the expenses that the gate receipts failed to cover.

The cost for the Bobcat Sponsorship Program might seem at first to be a bit pricey, and maybe demand will support the pricing structure. After all, one of the tenets of marketing is pricing at what the market will bear. If there are no takers at the elite level then the price will go down, and conversely if there is a bigger demand than supply the price will go up.

Even the low end sponsorship, a $20 Bobcat Pride yard sign, should be affordable by most Bobcat fans. Marketing is covering the gamut.

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