What: The Vegas Golden Knights, the newest NHL franchise, is making inroads with the Latino community in the region.
Why it matters: Team engagement with street hockey clinics, merchandise sales, community school events and even Spanish-language promotions will be a win for all.

T-Mobile Arena

Hockey and Latino outreach may seem like a bit of an outlier, but not if you are the Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights). One of the most successful sports business startups of all-time, the Golden Knights have broken so many boundaries that it’s hard to count, with a new focus and success on the Latino market in and around The Strip.

Now the idea of marketing to Latinos in Vegas is not that foreign, no pun intended. The USL Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfchave successfully made Latino inclusion a big part of their marketing, with resounding success, and fight sports like MMA (@ufcand boxing, have seen resounding opportunities in the market as well. But hockey?

The Golden Knights have seen the light.

I’m seeing more and more people of a Hispanic heritage following the team. I see them at the games. We’re seeing it in our metrics digitally and socially.

According to ESPN.com, Las Vegas’ proactive and strategic approach on the grassroots side has led them to local Latino audiences, both Spanish and English speaking, that have embraced the team, and the sport they have found like never before.

The leader of the push is Kerry Bubolz (@KerryBubolz), Golden Knights President, who has seen the impact that introducing sports like hockey at the grassroots level can have in a growing and underserved community like Las Vegas.

Last February, during the inaugural season which saw the Golden Knights advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, the team announced that in partnership with sponsors, the NHL (@NHLand the NHLPA (@NHLPA), they were donating full floor-hockey equipment packs to middle schools in Clark County. For each school, that included 60 sticks, multiple nets, border controls to create a rink in a gymnasium and, training for school staff to better understand the rules of the game. Given that more than half the school district has Hispanic and Latino origins, the assimilation and introduction was pretty generic.

The Portada Brands-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Kerry Bubolz

“They’re growing in size and economically in this market,” said Bubolz in the article. “I’m seeing more and more people of a Hispanic heritage following the team. I see them at the games. We’re seeing it in our metrics digitally and socially. So what are other ways that we’re reaching out in an authentic way?”

This led to another emerging idea in the NHL, one that has taken hold in NFL, MLB and the NBA for years: Spanish language broadcasts. ESPN Deportes 1460 AM in Las Vegas, came on board, now delivering games in native language as well. The move made the Knights one of six NHL teams now to offer games in Spanish, with AT&T SportsNet (@ATTSportsNetRM), which carries the Golden Knights, now providing an SAP option as well.

The result is a growing grassroots push for, yes, hockey in the Latino community in the desert.

What has been seen in a more native sport for the community, soccer, with Las Vegas Lights is not just fan support but brand activation joining forces with the team, which is a huge boost for the bottom line. For hockey, with Golden Knights games still at a premium, heading to T-Mobile Arena (@TMobileArenamight be a stretch for many young Latino families, but engagement with the team with street hockey clinics, merchandise sales, community school events and even Spanish language promotions will win for all. What also makes this a smart play for the team is that it seeds a new audience, one which may love the breakneck speed of the sport and the glamour of the NHL but had never been exposed before. That audience will take time to mature, but the Golden Knights have the luxury of time and buzz on their side.

Latino hockey fans: a new phenomenon sprouting seeds in the sands of Nevada.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Cover Image: Flickr/Michael Miller

What: Michael Neuman, the EVP and Managing Partner at Scout Sports and Entertainment and a member of our new Sports Marketing Board, speaks to Portada about the MLS’s efforts to turn soccer into a major sport in the US.
Why It Matters: Football, basketball, hockey and baseball are historically the most followed sports in the U.S. But there is opportunity for soccer to gain terrain and draw investment from today’s biggest advertisers.

Michael Neuman
Michael Neuman, EVP and Managing Partner at Scout Sports and Entertainment.

Four sports have traditionally dominated American sports: football, basketball, baseball and hockey. “There are two main reasons that put them there; their ability to aggregate big audiences, live, and their sophistication to collaborate with brands and their agency partners to build fully sponsoring offers and packages,” explains Michael Neuman, the EVP and managing partner at the specialized marketing agency Scout Sports and Entertainment, which is Horizon Media’s Sports and Entertainment division.

But soccer is catching up. “If anyone [in sports marketing] is overlooking soccer, they are making a huge mistake,” says Neuman.

Subscribe to Portada Sports Marketing Updates!

“You have to remember that the MLS is still a very young brand,” he said. Established only 23 years ago in December 1993, it is far behind the main American sports in terms of the maturity of their professional leagues. The NFL is 96 years-old, the MLB 114, and NBA 70. “It still has many years to go to catch up with where the other sports are,” the member of Portada’s sports marketing board adds.

We’re still in the first generation of the MLS.

Image result for mlsAs passion for sports teams is often passed down through generations, this means that “we’re still in the first generation of MLS,” says Neuman.

But while the MLS is young, it is as sophisticated as any other league in terms of marketing. “They do a great job offering brands with many touch points with many different assets,” Neuman notes.

If there is any doubt on this, you just need to take a look at the list of the league’s official sponsors, which includes Adidas, Audi, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Heineken, Tag Heuer, The Home Depot, Etihad Airways, and more.

Tough Competition from International Leagues

On top of competing with other sports, the MLS must compete with other worldwide renowned soccer leagues. “There is also great soccer being played around the world, and so soccer fans are watching games from Germany, Spain, the Premier League, the Mexican League…,” explained Neuman.

Image result for liga mxThis particular challenge is not shared with other American sports whose leagues are not eclipsed in size and popularity by their global counterparts.

The MLS is just one part of a larger soccer offering that comes from a global environment.

“There is less of a desire to satisfy the need for football content or baseball content outside of the US, where the MLS is just one part of a larger soccer offering that comes from a global environment,” Neuman adds.

For sports marketers, soccer represents a great opportunity to reach both US-natives and the Hispanic market. “It is the type of platform that can really reach both, the general market consumer and the Hispanic consumer, more so than the other professional leagues that we have been talking about,” Neuman asserts.

But, to succeed in their soccer marketing strategies, Neuman believes that marketers must have knowledge of both the multicultural and the sports market. There is a need for more multicultural sports marketing executives in the US.

“The days of having a sports marketer building a multicultural sports strategy without a multicultural influence are over you can’t pull that off,” explains Neuman.

The soccer platform is as vibrant today as it has ever been and it’s only going to get bigger and better.

Neuman sums it up: “the soccer platform is as vibrant today as it has ever been and it’s only going to get bigger and better, and the audiences are going to continue to grow.”