I have a friend who grew up in New Jersey. He loves everything about the East Coast and has always been pretty unimpressed with the Pacific Northwest.
One day last summer, I went to a party at his place. As we all sat by the swimming pool, a box of Henry Weinhards Private Reserve was brought out.
As my friend twisted off the top to the beer and took a long sip, he smiled at me. You know, he said, the one thing I really do love about Oregon is the beer.
Living in Oregon, we sometimes get spoiled by the sheer amount of fantastic microbreweries. Going to the summer beer festival on the Portland waterfront only begins to give you a sense of how many craft beers Oregon produces.
That is why, if you are rooting for the Hillsboro Hops to succeed and stick around for a while, you have to love that the Hops are striving to feature as many craft and local beers as possible at their concession stands.
When Hillsboro came out with the name Hops last year, I thought there were a ton of possibilities for concessions and marketing. Making an effort to get numerous craft beers into the stadium is a very big step in terms of creating an experience that will make the Hops sustainable.
And that is really what the Hops marketing team should be trying to do, right? Because, lets be honest, we are talking about one of the lowest levels of minor-league baseball. Most people are going to want to go to the game simply to have a good time. They are not going to give a semi-collectable beer bottle cap whether this team wins or loses.
You might hear quotes from people about how the Hops parent club, the Arizona Diamondbacks, want the team to win. And Im sure they do.
But, I can promise you that if the Hops manager ever blows out a top prospects arm by pitching him in the ninth inning to try to win a game in July, that manager is going to be fired before the MRI has taken place.
In other sports at other levels, a team has to promise its fans a good product on the field. If the Trail Blazers do not win, people do not come to the game. Simple.
The Hops do not need to worry about whether the team wins or loses to sell tickets. That puts extra pressure on management to figure out how to draw people into the stands, though.
The Portland Timbers of the MLS are masters at this.
The Timbers have turned Jeld-Wen Field into a premiere destination for a good time. It would not be hard to imagine that half of the 20,000-plus people who attend Timbers games would be coming whether the team won or lost.
Remember in high school when everyone went to the football game no matter what, because that was where your friends were and if you did not go you would be sitting at home alone? That is what the Timbers have created among their fan base. That is what the Hops must do this season.
Minor-league baseball is notorious for God-awful promotions (Dog Night jumps immediately to mind). And while the Hops just would not be a minor-league team if they did not have some truly terrible promotions, the effort to fill the concession stands with craft beer is a smart and savvy move.
Oregon has some of the best beers in the world, and Oregonians love their beer. Basically, if you pour it, they will come.
It was a good idea from the Hops. They should celebrate with an ice-cold craft beer and keep the ideas coming.