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How the Red Sox Use Data to Enhance the Fan Experience

Moneyball isn’t just for players anymore

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Since the Theo Epstein era, the Red Sox have been known as a particularly analytics-driven MLB franchise. Now that focus on stats is expanding beyond the baseball diamond. On the latest Ringer MLB Show, Red Sox executive vice president and chief financial officer Tim Zue spoke with Ben Lindbergh and Michael Baumann about how the franchise is using data to improve the fan experience.

First, the team will use a robust purchase history to tailor its sales calls.

"We [can] have a sales rep that’s on the phone with someone that’s looking to buy season tickets, and he can understand that person’s behavior," Zue explained. "So maybe that person’s past purchase history is that he only buys Sunday afternoon games. And we might have other information that suggests that that person has a family and likes to bring his kids. [The salesman] might focus that conversation towards a weekend plan. Whereas conversely, if he’s on the phone with someone else who has a history for buying more premium tickets for evening games, maybe that person is entertaining clients and is more of a business-type person. And the conversation would be different on the phone with those two customers based on their past purchase history. And so it helps us, and frankly it helps the customer because we’re taking them to a path quicker to a product they may be more interested in based on their past history."

More exciting, though, is the way the experience inside Fenway could change in the coming years. One thing Zue and the Red Sox are exploring is a way to build a better concessions experience. It starts with tracking of sales:

"Our partner, Aramark, has been a great partner of ours and they’re also invested in this area," Zue said. "They certainly track the volume that they’re selling at different stands at different times. It allows them to predict the amount of food to prepare but also staffing levels at different places."

But it could get much more advanced soon. Imagine an app that tells you the wait times at Fenway — almost like you’re at Disneyland.

"One thing that’s up and coming is line management," Zue said. "And we’ve explored different software where actually you can install cameras, [and] the cameras sort of estimate the wait times. We don’t have this ready yet. We’re exploring. If you could install cameras that could focus on the lines and then the software could estimate wait times, then you could serve those wait times up through the ballpark app. I do think some stadiums are doing this. I think Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers, might have estimated wait times."

All of this means a more streamlined experience.

"You want to go get your beer and you pull up your app and you type in beer and it gives you your fastest wait times, kind of like Waze," Zue said. "And it gives you a little map to walk over there. Those are the types of things we’re exploring. Because ultimately your time at Fenway Park is so precious. You don’t want to be waiting in line for your beer or your hot dog. We want you to be watching the game and enjoying it with your family and friends."

Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.