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"Live" From the New Social Deck At Progressive Field

May 25, 2010
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Last Monday, I received an email in my inbox, my first one. The sender was listed as Robert Campbell, a person not known to me. Nothing unusual, though, I thought-I probably won’t know anyone who would send an email to that address. So, I opened it. Here’s the first line:

We at the Cleveland Indians have identified you as a devoted fan and an influential member of the Ohio social media community.

The e-mail, from a person who identified himself as Robert Campbell of the Cleveland Indians, went on to say that the Indians would like to invite me to a game during the May 19-26 homestand and sit in the newly created “Tribe Social Deck” on top of the left field wall at the base of section 180.

Huh? I’ve only been writing for for about six weeks and I have been using Facebook for a total of three months tops, and I don’t use Twitter. So, how could I be “an influential member of the Ohio social media community”?  I’ve also made a few unflattering remarks about the Dolan family’s ownership on a few sites. I’ve been on line for about 15 years and gotten my fair share of announcements of prize winnings or lotteries that I never entered, so I must admit, I got suspicious. Could this be some kind of scam?

After doing a little investigatory legwork, I determined that the e-mail and offer were legit. So, I chose Friday, May 21 as my date, the opening day of the “Battle of Ohio” with the Reds, and maybe more importantly fireworks night. I emailed Rob my choice and he said he would leave 2 tickets for me at Gate B Will Call window at Progressive Field. Next step was to text Joe, my 19 year old nephew in Geneva, to see if he wanted to go. Since he’d never been to Progressive Field, he jumped at the opportunity to spend some quality time with his old uncle on a Friday night and see an Indians game.

I went up to Gate B, still having a 1% suspicion it was all a scam (even though I called the “Will Call window to confirm), showed my driver’s license and got the tickets. I guess I am “an influential member of the Ohio social media community” after all! Who knew? Joe and I went into the park and immediately found our spot. Right next to the Home Run Porch at the base of Section 180 sat the Tribe Social Deck. It really is a deck, made out of pressurized wood, the type you’d build your deck at home with. It had two rows of seats, 5 seats per row. The Deck also had wifi and electrical outlets should anyone want to be bring a laptop or iPad.  We also had a flat screen television with high definition. Even better, we had a beautiful view of the field. Ever since I was 6 years old and my Dad took me to my first Indians game, I get a little lump in my throat at the sight of a major league field.

We had another member of the social media with us, Dave Parsons, the Sports Information Director for Mt. Vernon Nazarene University in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Dave was there with his wife and two little girls. He and his family were great company. A little later in the evening, Twitter user @lzone joined us.

Rob Campbell, who coordinates the Social Deck for the Indians, came down to join us for a few innings at the start of the game. A recent graduate of Northwestern, Rob explained that this year the Indians decided to get more involved with social media and created this section solely for the use of the community. So, they removed the standing room lounge at the base of Section 180 and replaced it with the Tribe Social Desk. He told us that for the first half of the season, the Indians will be inviting social media users to the deck. But, by the second half of the year, the Indians hope to have an application process in place. The team will put a form up on the website, that bloggers, Tweeters, etc can fill it out and get access to the Deck for a game.

Since it looked like rain, Rob gave us tickets to a covered section of the park so we wouldn’t get soaked. It did drizzle in the early part of the game, and the ushers came over in the 4th inning to disconnect the TV, and we even got to see a rainbow over Progressive Field. But, the rainbow did not end with a Tribe victory as the Reds won the game 7-4 and the Indians wasted two home runs by Shin-Soo Choo. Rob also gave us the best news of the night. At the end of the game he would come back and lead us to our viewing perch for the fireworks—the visitor’s dugout! Normally, I love fireworks, but I paid very little attention to them that night. I kept thinking “My God, I’m sitting in a major league dugout!"

At or near the bottom of the American League in attendance, the Indians need to be creative. Trying to interact with and develop contacts with the social media community certainly qualifies as creativity.  Obviously, the goal is to have bloggers, Tweeters, and Facebook users communicate their positive feelings about their experience at a Tribe game. And except for losing the game, I had a great time. Sitting in a major league dugout and watching fireworks is one the coolest things I’ve ever done. Rob Campbell did a great job with the Social Deck and I really appreciate what he did. We had a great time and if you have the opportunity to experience the “Tribe Social Deck”, take it!

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