The White Sox will unveil Major League Baseball’s first ballpark-based social media lounge at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday when they open a three-game set with the Boston Red Sox.
Patrons can head to the free lounge during home games to interact with other White Sox fans and share their thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in real time. The lounge, located behind Section 154, also offers up to 25 fans at once the opportunity to recharge their phones and duck in out of the weather. The lounge also features three television sets, which will host Twitter and Instagram feeds and the game broadcast. The White Sox see the lounge as another way to increase communication with their fans, vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer said.
“It doesn’t have to be marketing and sales,” Boyer said. “But it’s the best way to communicate with your fans and give them accurate info. It’s a great way to communicate what’s going on with the team and with the ballpark.”
Plans for the lounge have been in the works since before the 2012 Winter Meetings, White Sox director of communications Nicole Saunches said. The team has always incorporated social media into its game operations, but Saunches believes fans can now have a more interactive experience. Fans can search what other fans are talking about and see what’s trending with the team.
“We see it as an added value to our fanbase,” Saunches said. “This gives us an opportunity to engage our fans with that content in real time. They can see their content and see what fellow fans post and tweet.”
The White Sox have long been proponents of social media. The team’s Twitter account, which was created on July 2, 2009, has more than 137,000 followers, up from 47,000 in early 2012, Saunches noted. The team’s Facebook page also has more than 977,000 likes.
The team’s 1.114 million followers through Facebook and Twitter currently ranks 11th among MLB teams. The New York Yankees lead all teams with more than 7 million users.
The club realizes the two sites offer them a direct line of communication and wants to further encourage their fans to offer feedback, hence the lounge.
“It’s almost like a focus group,” Saunches said. “These are avid social users. It gives us an opportunity to talk directly to them and implement their ideas.”
Saunches said the team potentially can use the lounge for future Sox Phone events, where a player is made available to speak with fans. They also may have pregame events with celebrities who plan to attend games.
The lounge is limited to fans with 100-level tickets only. To promote the lounge’s debut, the White Sox are selling discounted outfield reserve seats for $21 (normally $29) and half-off Party Patio tickets for $21, too.