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Detroit Tigers: How to Fix TigerFest

kris10bentley
Aug 20, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera (24) watches from the dugout during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 20, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera (24) watches from the dugout during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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After attending the Detroit Tigers winter celebration known as TigerFest, I have a few ideas that would make the event more fan friendly. The big problems with the event were the incredibly long lines and the lack of organization in those lines. Organizing an event with 7,000+ people is not easy, but there are a few things that could be handled differently.

Jul 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) signs an autograph before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) signs an autograph before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Idea #1: Rearrange the entertainment

Fans waiting in line had nothing to do but talk to each other and the fans in front or behind them. While they were waiting in line, there was entertainment happening in other parts of Comerica Park. Fans had to decide whether to wait in line for an autograph or a photo with players or to watch the entertainment. Since autographs are obviously popular, the Tigers organization needs to place the entertainment in places along the lines. Most of the entertainment was only 5 to 15 minutes in length, which is perfect to place alongside the lines where fans were waiting for up to two hours.

Idea #2: Put all of the autographs in one location.

The big problem with the autograph lines was that were so many of them. Fans could have spent their entire time waiting in three lines in the six hours that the event occurred. Fans had no idea what player would be at the end of the line and many were disappointed that after two hours they would get autographs from Detroit Tigers players like Kyle Ryan, Jeff Ferrell, or Wynton Bernard. One fan I spoke with waited for 90 minutes only to get an autograph from Rod Allen (she was definitely disappointed). Nothing against these players and celebrities, but fans want the to see the starters.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) sign autographs before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Aug 13, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) sign autographs before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Aug 13, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

To remedy this problem, the Tigers organization should have one line that ends at a point where fans are released one at a time to a large table full of starters (or individual tables with one starter each). Once a fan got to the front of the line, he or she would simply go to the player who had the opening. The front of the line would be managed by TigerFest staff to keep it moving quickly. It would be similar to a cattle chute (sorry about the reference).

If there were 10 to 12 Tigers at the table, they could move fans through quickly and keep everyone happy because fans would know they would get at least one autograph from a player like J.D. Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, James McCann, Jose Iglesias, Jordan Zimmerman, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Victor Martinez, Brad Ausmus, Nick Castellanos, or Justin Upton. Then, the TigerFest coordinators could shut down the line after an hour or two and get the fans and players involved in other activities. Or, the coordinators could rotate to a second set of starters to keep the autographs flowing.

Idea #3: Add labels at the end of the lines.

Another major problem with TigerFest was that the lines were not labeled. Fans got in lines and did not know what they were waiting for. A TigerFest staff member should be at the end of the line with a flag that clearly says what is at the front of the line. This would not be difficult to do.

Jul 5, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos (9) signs autographs for young fans prior to the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 5, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos (9) signs autographs for young fans prior to the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Idea #4: Include Detroit Tigers storytellers in the clubhouse and dugout.

Baseball fans love baseball. The Detroit Tigers have been around for over 100 years and there are plenty of stories to be told. There are also plenty of fans who would love to share baseball stories with fans. There were not any staffers in the clubhouse, dugout, or batting cages which would have been great places to put volunteers who love sharing details about the Tigers.

Idea #5: Separate the levels with completely different activities.

Instead of having autographs on all three levels (concourse, suite, and basement), the different levels should have completely different activities. The concourse area has so much room, so it should be reserved for autographs. The basement area should be reserved for viewing the players’ areas like the dugouts, clubhouses, and batting cages. The suite level should be reserved for viewing the suites, press box, and offices. With distinct differences, the fans would know exactly what they are doing on each level.

Next: Review of TigerFest 2016

TigerFest could be an amazing fan experience with better organization and placement of the players.

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