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.
The Blue Jays kicked off their annual Winter Tour/Caravan over the weekend. To say it was a rousing success would be an understatement.
The Autograph signing session on Saturday at Eaton Centre on Saturday was so popular that the Blue Jays cut the line-up off before the start time of the event. The success of the event shouldn’t have been in doubt from the start. The Blue Jays were trotting out their most popular player in Jose Bautista and perhaps their most interesting in R.A Dickey, hey you never know when he’ll start politicking for Josh Thole’s roster spot, so of course you would have to believe that the crowds would be huge. But as Joanna from Hum and Chuck summed up her Winter Tour Experience as poorly planned by the Blue Jays, and left not only herself pissed, but also many disappointed Blue Jays fans who took to twitter and other social media sites.
Here is the biggest problem when it comes to the Blue Jays and how they run their Winter Tour, they are considered Canada’s team and most winters plan stops all across the country. Which leaves Toronto with only one stop and with the renewed interest in the Jays, they will run into problems like this every year.
It also got me thinking, and if any of the bean counters at Rogers are reading go ahead and use this idea, it’s time for the Blue Jays to do a fan festival in January, you could open up the Dome to the fan base for Tours of the Clubhouse, Q and A sessions with players and management and even have a bigger autograph session with more players added in. The Blue Jays could charge an admission fee of 10 to 20 dollars which could go towards the Jays Care foundation.
And for the fans in the rest of the country, you could still do the usual Winter Tour. Most Major League teams do some sort of fan festival over the winter and in my opinion it’s time the Blue Jays got on board with that. It’s almost surprising some one in the marketing department down at One Blue Jays Way hasn’t thought of the idea.
LATEST ON DUQUETTE
Yes, it is still newsworthy even though the faster this whole thing falls apart the better. Jon Morosi tweeted out today that MLB was not involved in the negotiations between the Blue Jays and Orioles over Dan Duquette. Morosi also tweeted out that MLB believes it is a club issue and if Angelos takes a hard-line it’s unlikely that the MLB would force the Orioles to release Duquette from his contract. If the Blue Jays trade a player off of their Major League roster just for an executive then someone in the Rogers hierarchy needs to be run out-of-town, and Lord help us if the rumours are true and it is Ed Rogers that is the one negotiating. It’s hard to imagine that AA and his baseball people within the Blue Jays management are impressed with each passing day and added rumour to the story.