by David Burnett
Back on December 5th, I was SO ecstatic when St. Louis was formally awarded an XFL franchise that day, which also happens to be my birthday. I thought to myself, “What a FANTASTIC birthday gift!”
But, at the same time, I wondered how the XFL would rekindle fan interest in pro football in St. Louis, given how the Rams’ move to Los Angeles left a bitter taste in the mouths of many St. Louis football fans.
Also, while MLB, NFL, NHL, and MLS are known commodities, the XFL is a new league. How would the XFL get the attention of St. Louis sports fans?
Fast forward to July 13th, the day of the XFL Summer Showcase here in the St. Louis area. I had the pleasure to meet not only XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck & XFL St. Louis head coach Jonathan Hayes, but also XFL St. Louis Team President Kurt Hunzeker for the first time.
At the time, Kurt had only been on the job about a week or so, having previously worked as a marketing executive with Minor League Baseball (MiLB). Nevertheless, I could feel his passion for marketing this team to the St. Louis community. He assured me that once XFL St. Louis got its name & colors, his team would hit the ground running with his marketing plan.
On August 21st, XFL St. Louis became the St. Louis BattleHawks, complete with a stylish winged logo, and a slogan: Cleared To Engage.
And that’s exactly what Kurt & his team have done. They’ve begun to engage with the St. Louis community. We’re seeing more of a local media presence for the BattleHawks – social media, electronic billboards, even the message boards at The Dome at America’s Center, where the team will play its home games.
Best of all, the BattleHawks have scheduled weekly BattleHawks Happy Hour events at various locations throughout the St. Louis area.
Speaking from personal experience – I’ve been to all of the Happy Hour events, the most recent one having been at Ballpark Village – I can say that these Happy Hour events are a GREAT way to not only get the latest news about the team & the XFL, but to also offer feedback & suggestions to the team.
I can say that Kurt and his people are VERY approachable, and appreciate any ideas you may have. Think of the Happy Hour as sort of a brainstorming session over drinks. For any football fans here in the St. Louis area, I’d HIGHLY recommend attending them.
During the Ballpark Village event, Kurt mentioned that team helmets & uniforms will be unveiled some time in November. He also said that he’s seen the BattleHawks helmet, although he obviously couldn’t give out any additional details.
In addition, Kurt & his team’s BattleHawks table & banners have been a regular fixture at various local high school football games.
From these high school game exposures, he learned that the local football fans want some of that high school game-day experience replicated at The Dome for BattleHawks games. Like having high school marching bands performing simultaneously in the four corners of The Dome.
Here’s another VERY interesting idea that Kurt has been talking about – a parade before every home game. Starting from Ballpark Village, the parade would travel eight blocks north on 7th Street to The Dome. And maybe offer people an opportunity to participate in each parade with a float of their own design. Imagine a kind of mini Mardi Gras parade before every home game.
In a nutshell, just know that the BattleHawks are working overtime to make their presence felt in the St. Louis community. And that marketing push will definitely intensify as we approach the XFL Draft (October 15th & 16th).