If you have been involved in baseball, odds are you might have ran the bases at a minor or major league ballpark before as part of a fan promotion. But what if the fun did not have to stop there, and you had access to run on the field and experience the major league ballpark from a different perspective?
Well, Giants Enterprises — the entrepreneurial business arm to the San Francisco Giants — has you covered with its annual Giant Race Series. Taking place every spring and through the season, the organization holds these walk/run events, combined with baseball, in various West Coast cities.
As a whole, Giants Enterprises helps businesses and organizations throw one-of-a-kind experiences at Oracle Park, throughout San Francisco, on the Bay, and across the country. The group bridges the sports and entertainment gap outside of the 162-game season.
“San Francisco is interesting,” said Brian Kennedy, race director, Giant Race Series. “There is a lot of health and wellness in the Bay Area, and this just made sense.”
Running and baseball make sense, but why specifically hill-ridden San Francisco? According to Runners World, San Francisco is the No. 1 running city in the United States, creating a great fit.
At its base, the Giant Race is the ultimate fan-interaction event with the San Francisco Giants and their minor-league affiliates, spanning multiple Giants markets in California and Arizona.
Beginning during spring training, with tours through Scottsdale, San Jose, and Sacramento, the event culminates at Oracle Park with 30,000-plus participants.
“Scottsdale is like an adult spring break,” joked Kennedy. “And this is a good way to get back into the swing of baseball. Three-fourths of our Giants fanbase wants to travel down for spring training, so we give them a unique experience.”
Kennedy and his team know that this physical interaction with the San Francisco Giants brand is easy and one of the best ways to bolster their own mission of being San Francisco’s leader in creating innovative, entrepreneurial events, and in commercializing major events and venues.
“We’re authentically connecting fans through health and wellness,” said Kennedy. “The race is an incredible platform for the organization to engage with fans and supporters on the active lifestyle front.”
The individual markets are saturated with people, while San Jose is a top-10 market city and Sacramento is a 35th largest city — both claiming Giants baseball passions while maintaining their MiLB ties.
The Giants organization and Giants Enterprises have worked together for years with running enthusiasts to create this experience all season long, and 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary.
“The race series has grown to four races servicing over 30K run/walkers each year in four markets,” said Kennedy. “In 2019, however, we look to debut the first-ever, inside-the-park full marathon event on the warning track of Oracle Park.”
The organization knows its races do a great job of connecting like-minded individuals in the Bay Area, boasting a 40-percent retention rate from year to year with word-of-mouth expression being the forerunner of advertising in the running community.
“We are the leader in the MLB,” said Kennedy. “We haven’t found another sports team with a series of races across four different markets impacting people and 30,000 runners.”
Even the races’ main corporate sponsorship takes after their baseball and active brand. Alaska Airlines sponsors the races and serves as the official airline of the Giants, along with its other health and wellness endeavors.
Alaska Airlines most prominently sponsors the MLS’s Portland Timbers and is involved in the Pacific Northwest’s sports demographic too.
Nailing down a strong and trusted brand with its audience and potential audiences is vital moving forward for Giants Enterprises; to the group, it’s all about making the most sense to consumers.
“They [Alaska Airlines] are a strong partner with Giants baseball,” said Kennedy. “They help move Giants fans across America and participate in health and wellness.”
However, the Giants are not the only health and wellness-oriented ball club, as the Pittsburgh Pirates are hosting their “Pirates Home Run 5K/10K” in April 2019.
Certainly, Giants Enterprises did not create the baseball community involvement, but its ideas have served as a catalyst for other organizations to dive into the active engagement lifestyle, which is heavily important to consumers.