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Unique freebies

Ben Garonzik

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Besides the hassle of schlepping from their parking spots to the stadium and ravaging through their bags to find their admission tickets, sports fans share a pleasant surprise when they arrive at the gates and they see volunteers generously handing out gifts. Professional sports organizations love gifting their loyal fans with freebie promotional giveaways. The more traditional giveaways include t-shirts, hats, or bobbleheads, but some teams go above-and-beyond to treat fans with the best giveaways. The franchises tie current events or trending topics into their brainstorming, making their giveaways more appealing to dedicated fans.

The Toronto rapper Drake is a well-known Raptors fanatic. He can be seen on tv, sitting courtside at Raptors games, trying to get in the opponents’ heads. He has gone viral on several occasions, including photobombing the Kobe vs. Lebron matchup at All-Star Weekend, and mocking Justin Holiday by clapping violently in his ear after forcing him to commit a five second inbound violation call. One game, he was caught lint rolling his pants, and eight days later, the Toronto Raptors’ promotional executives gave 1200 fans entering the Air Canada Center lint-rollers with Drake’s OVO owl logo. These sell for as much as $99.99 on Ebay.

Another wacky freebie was the Zim Bear. Don Zimmer was an iconic baseball player, manager, and coach for a variety of teams. He died at the age of 83 in June 2014, and the Tampa Bay Rays decided to commemorate the late former senior advisor by slapping his face onto a cute, cuddly, little teddy bear and put him in a Tampa Bay Rays hat and Jersey. Molly Podlesny wrote in her SB Nation article regarding the giveaway, “The best way to be immortalized is definitely as a stuffed bear cub.”

Photo courtesy of sports.yahoo.com

Photo courtesy of sports.yahoo.com

By far, the most desireable fan giveaway would be the Seattle Mariners’ beard hats. They were given to fans on April 25, 2014, and this year, they are to be given out on Friday, April 29th to the first 20,000 fans. The Mariners are also recognized for giving away Hisashi Iwakuma bear hats, for the pitcher who threw a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles last season. They look silly and comfy, and they will most likely keep fans warm in the chilly postseason, despite the fact that the Mariners are not going to make it. Other more successful teams give away warm hats like these to their fans as well, including the Boston Red Sox beard hat, the Minnesota Twins fur bomber hat, and the Colorado Rockies mullet hat.

Although there are some great freebies, professional sports teams sometimes come up short when brainstorming clever ideas. For example, in honor of Father’s Day, the Charleston Riverdogs offered each of their male fans a free vasectomy. This idea was ditched shortly after fans criticized it for being “just bad taste.” Another lame promotion was Terrell Owens Unappreciation Night in 2006 for the Atlantic City Surf. Oddly enough, the tickets were sold in exchange for the trash-talking receiver’s memorabilia, the hot dogs were sold for 81 cents, in dishonor of Owens’s jersey number, and whoopee cushions were distributed with his face on them. Terrell Owens did end up leaving Philadelphia and the tough Eagles fans.

All in all, it is a pleasant surprise for fans to enter the stadium and be greeted with a free gift, which would normally be priced $9.99, especially those fans who are joined at the stadium by their children who are tugging their parents’ shorts and begging for a present. The premise of promotional freebie giveaways are to enhance the event-goers’ experiences at the ballpark, arena, or field. It’s also for recognizing their loyal fans, and thanking them for their faith and interest in the franchise.

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Unique freebies