If you build it they will come. And if you want them to keep coming, you better listen to what your customers have to say. The St. Louis BattleHawks have presented themselves as an organization that is married to the idea of fan engagement and building a sort of trust between organization and city. Leading the charge on this front has been BattleHawks team president, Kurt Hunzeker.
When a major childhood dream come true, what do you do?— Kurt Hunzeker (@khunzeker) February 23, 2020
You enjoy every second of the day. Today is that day for me. St. Louis, your homegrown pro football team is ready for you. Let’s have some fun today!#ForTheLoveOfFootball x #ForTheLoveOfSTL https://t.co/loIkDzFt2A
Like his twitter bio would suggest, Hunzeker is a St. Louis product. Same as the BattleHawks. And he has used that to his advantage by creating an open line of communication directly with the fans. Hunzeker has made his presence known in the community of BattleHawks twitter by opening himself up to constructive criticism from the fans. Something most team executives would probably be petrified of since we all know that the internet isn’t exactly the most forgiving environment for new ideas.
A new series called, “We’re Listening, St. Louis” – PART 1— Kurt Hunzeker (@khunzeker) February 26, 2020
Last Sunday, we had 40 beer vendors in the concourse. This Saturday, we will have 60 beer vendors, and have them go up and down aisles to relieve congestion in the concourses. More news to come….#ForTheLoveOfFootball pic.twitter.com/XYpTdrZGpY
“We’re Listening, St. Louis” – PART 2— Kurt Hunzeker (@khunzeker) February 27, 2020
Thanks to your feedback, we will be adding a merchandise stand out in the @SchnuckMarkets Official Tailgate in Baer Plaza, by the corner of Broadway and Convention Plaza. You will be able to bring the clear bags into the game. pic.twitter.com/LK12QwqVZL
Sure, you could say these aren’t extraordinary changes when it comes to a gameday experience. But a little bit of trust from the people that pay the bills goes a long way.
Think of your favorite sports team outside of the XFL for example. How do you think the approval rating for that front office is? Outside of a few outliers here and there, I would venture to bet that they aren’t looked upon too fondly by the fan base. That could be from a multitude of things. Maybe the team isn’t winning. Maybe the true fans are being priced out due to insane prices and PSLs. Maybe they don’t have their finger on the pulse of their fans and don’t take the little things to improve an experience into account. But as of today, the BattleHawks are checking all the boxes.
But there remains one more logistical hurdle the upstart St. Louis franchise needs to clear in order to create the dream scenario BattleHawk fans are waiting for. And with fans showing up in droves to support their team to the tune of 29,174 and 27,527 fans for their first 2 home games, the city may be getting rewarded.
It’s just an idea for now, but the response has been an overwhelming yes from the local populous. As I alluded to in a past article, St. Louis once thought football in the dome was a pipe dream a few years ago. But now their team sits alone atop the east and boasts a 3-1 record with arguably one of the best home field advantages in the XFL. They have packed the lower bowl of the dome and the team has responded by delivering on their end of the bargain. They’re winning. And when teams win, fans show up.
Partner that with the glowing reviews players have giving of the support they feel personally from St. Louis and you have yourself quite the winning formula for the XFL’s success in a football starved city. It will be interesting to see if any teams try to follow suit with how much the BattleHawks have chosen to not “sell out” and intertwine themselves with the fabric of St. Louis and make it feel like a community effort rather than just a team that so happens to play in a city.
Thankful is an understatement! To be apart of this league, this organization and this city is truly an honor! The fans are absolutely incredible! Lets take this one week at a time and keep this hawk flying! @xfl2020 @XFLBattleHawks #StLouie #XFL #ClearedToEngage #KawKaw pic.twitter.com/PtYEbSVWTm— Taylor Russolino (@tgrussolino) March 1, 2020
They hire local. They’ve brought on names that already carry weight with Mizzou products like L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas. They chose to play on a field that was once hallowed ground when the likes of Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner were building hall of fame careers. And every game feels like a St. Louis love affair with local businesses being the stars of the show when it comes to advertisements.
That STL drip just hit different!! 💧 https://t.co/rbmo33Yup6— L’Damian Washington (@MizzouMonstar2) March 2, 2020
We are proud to partner and be the official grocery store of the @XFLBattleHawks. Let’s celebrate football being back in St. Louis. KaKAW! #ForTheLoveOfFootball #battlehawks #XFL2020 #XFL https://t.co/XQe51SrOCw pic.twitter.com/g5Ovs6XX6b— Schnucks (@SchnuckMarkets) February 19, 2020
With Saturday’s 23-16 win over the Seattle Dragons, the BattleHawks will now go on a 2 week road trip and will be away from the buzz and excitement for a while. It will be interesting study to see if the fans continue to tune in to watch from afar given the Cardinals spring training is kicking into full gear with MLB opening day fast approaching. But for my money, there isn’t a chance that St. Louis will stop following a home-grown winning product. And if I were Oliver Luck, who recently stated the XFL wouldn’t be expanding for season 2, I would take a look at the blueprint for how they handled St. Louis and possibly look to other cities searching for something to cling to. Not to rev the expansion engine halfway into the inaugural season. Just a thought.
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