As I near a decade of life and work in Northern Nevada, we continue to see significant shifts in who we are as a community. It can feel like Northern Nevada is an awkward teenager, clinging to our childhood while nervously exploring new experiences. We’re not quite to a point where we can fully appreciate both who we were and who we are going to be. Working sports and entertainment gives us a unique perspective on the needs, wants, and challenges of our community. We at the Aces work to pay homage to all those who made our existence possible while welcoming new Nevadans into Greater Nevada Field.
Baseball has enjoyed a relatively uninterrupted long-term success that has been historically popular and recession resistant due to our focus on affordable, family friendly entertainment. Then COVID happens. And what do we do when we become labeled “non-essential?” And even for those who are essential have a wide range of competitors for whom they must earn their survival.
We now stand in a place of finding our future in a growing community while simultaneously navigating the new world order where a pandemic becomes endemic. We have now learned who we are and how our community views us while leveraging emerging technology to pressure test our assumptions. We learned what our community responds to when we speak. We learned where our voice resonates and what kind of team our fans want to support.
What did we learn that we will take with us as we forge forward?
Technology: The biggest risk we see is failing to use technology for fear of change for fears sake. COVID gave us the confidence which we will continue to live with. Moving to all digital tickets, a cashless stadium experience and taking our security even more seriously with more cameras and metal detection. Very few of our fans would choose these but now all are overwhelmingly accepted.
Leadership: Even before the great resignation, we chose to focus on our employee’s wellness and have honest conversations about how we can support them and their families. Baseball has a lot of long-standing family unfriendly hours. While we cannot eliminate all of them, I believe we’ve found the greatest balance of life and work in our industry today. An unintended byproduct is that our younger staff has advanced quicker without an all-day everyday safety blanket. On the same token, embracing remote digital communication has provided an all-day everyday resource that would have been unimaginable just two short years ago.
Experiences: When it comes to Aces games, Greater Nevada Field will be open for less than 300 hours any year. We’ve learned that we must build relationships with our fans well beyond those 300 hours and especially to make sure each of our hundreds of thousands of fans has direct and easy access to a real person anytime they need or want us. What would have been considered “soft touches” many years ago are now fundamental as we check in on our fan’s wellbeing, offer them experiences outside of Aces games, and continue to learn what they expect to make those 300 hours a year the most memorable they can be.
The more we change the more we must rely on what we always knew; be warm, be welcoming, and add value to our customers and community. At the same time, we have to adapt our styles, technology, and thought process to grow as individual businesses and an economy as a whole. Sports create a community of belonging, an oasis from life, and safety amongst large crowds. When our backs were against the wall during early COVID days, we were bold and decisive in our actions. Those bold actions are why many of us are here still working today. Let us all commit to acting progressively in times of calm as we did in times of chaos.
Learn about Baseball business lessons for all our businesses at NCET’s Biz Bite on April 27. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at www.NCETbite.org
Eric Edelstein is president at the Reno Aces Baseball Club (Renoaces.com) and lives for using sports to connect people within communities for a greater quality of life.