Football: Marketing uses local strategy

A mostly empty stadium watched the football team, drenched from the sweltering day’s work, finish their mock game Saturday then gathered with hands raised in true Horned Frog tradition for the school song.At the song’s conclusion, someone in the crowd vehemently yelled, “Go Baylor!”

The adversarial screech underscored how few TCU faithful came out to support the team during “Meet the Frogs.”

The attendance is only an epilogue to the fact that outside of last year’s game against Texas Tech, TCU hasn’t had a sell-out crowd at Amon Carter Stadium since 1984.

Head coach Gary Patterson and company are doing all they can to help, coming in as the No. 22 team in the country in preseason poles.

Patterson said all he can do is win games and treat people well during events like “Meet the Frogs” when he has the opportunity to meet fans.

Don Guinn, 51, whose daughter is a freshman this year, was one of those who came out to see the event and learn what TCU football is all about.

Guinn, a Grand Prairie native, said the attendance was lower than he expected.

“It’s a great event, I don’t know why anyone isn’t here,” Guinn said.

Jason Byrne, director of athletic marketing, said marketing is expanding the program with a focus on customer service.

“We’re making a grassroots effort,” Byrne said. “We want to establish relations with the core fans, our season ticket holders, and then begin branching out from there.”

Byrne said it is a constant struggle because the Dallas-Fort Worth area is a great place to find interested people, but it also has many more attractions to keep them interested.

“We’re trying to find something unique to make fans feel like they’re part of the game and separate ourselves from the rest of the attractions in the Metroplex,” Byrne said.

Bleacher Creatures, Frog Alley and all the other family activities are part of what Byrne described as the event around the event that marketing is trying to engender.

“The battle is awareness and once they come out we can make the event something they can remember,” Byrne said.

Patterson said he has seen the success of the marketing over the years he has been with the university.

“I came here 10 years ago and no one knew about TCU,” Patterson said. “But along with marketing and TV, you can go into New York, you can go into L.A., you can go into Miami and see a TCU hat now and you didn’t used to be able to do that.”

Marketing appears to be paying off with students too and if the number of “BEAT BAYLOR” shirts being worn around campus is any indication, cries of “Go Baylor” may not be heard this weekend, on the field or off.