Colorado College Hockey
Colorado College has a Division 1 collegiate hockey program. However, the college of only 2,500 students competes against schools throughout the U.S., with up to 120,000 students.
Yet, CC doesn’t have an on-campus stadium or a large student body, which usually creates a built-in audience.
In 1995, the challenge was to create local and regional awareness that the college even had a hockey team – much less a highly ranked one. Many residents in the region are transplants from states that are completely unfamiliar with hockey. There was a new, public 8,000-seat stadium to fill, now known as the Broadmoor World Arena, and we were competing against the nearby movie theaters, restaurants and shopping for weekend entertainment.
Keep in mind this was long before the Internet and social media: We strove to create an experiential perspective in our marketing – focusing on what people feel, see and hear – rather than making hockey itself the showpiece or using cliché-driven sports terminology.
We wanted to present hockey as an action-themed, live event to attend, more like a rock concert than sports.
Fortunately, the design of the stadium ensures that everyone has a good seat. But we needed to tell the story of a live sporting event – one where spectators can feel the vibrations when players slam into the boards right by them – the story of an intense, intimate experience that makes people want to buy season tickets and experience the energy again and again.
During those early years, we went with a new one-word campaign each season to convey the simplicity, joy and fun that spectators would experience at a CC Hockey game. The first year, it was: “Believe.” Another year, the word was “Grit.”
Back then, this was fresh – unheard of. And it worked. For more than a decade.
By 2007, CC Hockey had long-since garnered the name recognition it deserved, and we strategically segued to marketing hockey as a product.
Today, CC Hockey is ranked 4th in the nation for attendance in D1 hockey – quite an achievement after an inauspicious start. Recently, for a few seasons, CC Hockey was the #1 collegiate winter sporting event in Colorado. Average attendance at home games hovers around 6,800 attendees. And we don’t mind saying we’re very proud of that.