It’s that time of year again.
It’s the time that I again get on my soapbox and bemoan the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays have their heads stuck in the sand and haven’t done away with the current format of their Winter Tour and moved towards a more fan friendly type of event, like a fan festival.
New President Mark Shapiro hasn’t even been in his current position three months yet so the Winter Tour thing was most likely on the bottom of his list of things to do when he arrived in town. But one would think with the rising popularity of the team the past few years the organizers of the Winter Tour would realize that they must change the current format of the tour.
For example, the Toronto portion of their current Winter Tour had an autograph session in a mall in Newmarket on Wednesday night. The event was slated to start at 6:30, due to the crowd that lined up early the line was cut off at 1:30 pm. There is an autograph session scheduled in Ottawa for Saturday morning and I imagine the same thing will happen there. This isn’t the first time this has happened as there were people turned away from events last year as well.
I’d also like to believe that Shapiro is enough of a forward thinker, he’s already renamed the “State of the Franchise’ to “The Leadoff”, that improving the fan experience is a big part of his job, it’s even a point he has brought up since he took the job. He also has the experience in improving the fan experience at the ballpark, he had a big part in the renovations at Progressive Field making it more fan friendly when he was the President in Cleveland. They even have “Tribe Fest” which they starter in 2013.
So I am proposing, just as I did last year, that the Blue Jays host a fan festival. They can host it during the third weekend in January and have it at the Rogers Centre. They can have autograph sessions, Q and A sessions with current players, heck they can even trot out some of the Alumni and the TV and radio broadcasters like other teams do. They could do what they do in Oakland during their fan fest and host a “garage sale” where they sell off game worn jerseys, broken bats, Spring training jerseys and other game used items. They could even do clubhouse tours. They could charge a fee of 10 to 20 dollars and have the proceeds from the ticket sales go to the Jays Care foundation. It would be a win-win situation for all involved, the fans would have a much better experience than the current Winter Tour provides and the Blue Jays would get some well deserved good will among the fan base.
The time has come, and with new leadership at the top it is my hope that they see the potential that is out there in doing a fan festival and dropping their current Winter Tour.
You can thank me later Mr. Shapiro.