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Business Prospects for Seattle Mariners.

In: Business and Management

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Words 2395
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Name
Business Prospects for The Seattle Mariners
Institutional Affiliation
May 27, 2016

Executive Summary
Sports franchises are the pride of communities in various towns and cities across the United States. They provide a source of entertainment and recreation center for the local population. Beyond that, however, these are businesses that are interested in making money and operating profitably so that they can advance and increase their chances of winning and dominating the league. Winning is a source of local pride for the community. The economic landscape has changed since the formation of the league. In this paper, the club will be subjected to SWOT analysis and competitive analysis which will reveal the structural and environmental make-up of the industry as at the present moment. The technological front is also changing, and clubs are not to be left behind. The paper will differentiate between having a need for a website and for having an active social media presence. It will conclude by giving out suggestions on how to improve from a business perspective to adopting a different form of social media which will be important in converting traffic and views to cash opportunities.

Introduction
Sports are a huge favorite and a great pass time in America. Communities, fueled by the need of individuals to participate in sports have organized teams to compete within themselves for entertainment and for bringing people together. Through the involvement in social events and organizational activities, societies have grown together and developed closer ties. Individuals, especially children, also get life lessons here. Team sports allow people to understand the dynamics that are involved in social relationships and interaction. Communication is important in helping people convey messages when they are participating in stressful situations. Because of these benefits and much more, people decided to form community teams and sports groups. Seattle Mariners are one such organization.
Formed in 1977, the Seattle Mariners are a baseball playing franchise in the premier division of the Major League Baseball. The name Mariners was chosen to reflect the cultural association of life to the city it represents. Seattle is a seaport city that gives the great pride and a rather attractive income to the people here (Seattle Mariners, n.d.). The team is the pride of the community and attracts a rather moderate following compared to the other sports activities in the city. Though compared to other franchises in the league, the team is rather small and modest regarding capacity and success (Oz, 2013). Oz also notes that the team had the 10th lowest payroll, 26th lowest attendance and 11th lowest wins in the league in the year 2012 (Oz, 2013). That notwithstanding, the firm was able to turn a profit of almost six million dollars which is commendable for a modest franchise of its size. By 2014, the profits had almost double to twelve million (Eaton, 2015). Many other brands have a substantial revenue base, bigger venue, and prominent stars but still cannot register profits. It is the aim of this paper to describe the business environment of the franchise detailing how it has gotten to where it is and at the end of that give prescriptions on how it can achieve more value for the brand of its caliber.
S.W.O.T. Analysis
S.W.O.T. is an acronym developed to help conduct an analytical examination of the business model to determine its suitability to challenge and win within its environment given the set of assets in its resource base. The acronym also considers the lack of resources and the overbearing influence of limitations imposed by scarcity of economic resources. The first two letters represent things within the firms’ sphere of influence. The first letter represents the strengths of the company. These are the unique qualities and characteristics that will help turn around efforts into profits. The second letter describes weaknesses of the firm with relationship to the challenges it has to overcome. The last two consider the environmental forces that are unique to the industry that the business operates. They can be global to local and present the Opportunities and threats to the firm, the third and fourth letters respectively.
The strengths of the Mariners are a small closely-knit community team despite being an in a largely metropolitan area. The firm’s management needs to address the issue of bringing in more members of the community to aid in increase gate fees and selling out the seats in the stadium. Attendance to games is one of the most reliable and primary ways that a team earns its revenues. Luckily for the Mariners, they can boast of strong support from the locals which though is dwindling, has consistently provided them with an audience to spur them on when having live games. The management is also a competent team which is shrewd in its operations saving the firm money by renting the venue where they hold the games homes. The result is increased profitability from maintaining steady costs, gaining revenue and in exchange, the ‘ballpark.org’ websites says, the Mariners maintain the ballpark at the state-of-art levels (Finance. n. d.).
Some of the weaknesses that plague the firm perennially are the lack of professional and competent staff to help in the development of the team. The very talented ones are poached away by competition. The team also lacks that premium brand identity that is important in helping to attract the stellar talent that other clubs get. In its record, the team is one of the few in the Major League Baseball to never have won a world series (Wikipedia, n. d.). The owners are mostly non-involved and maintain a ‘hands-off’ policy to let the business run itself. In Europe and other places, wealthy owners invest outside money to help in winning competitions. Titles increase the brand equity of the franchises and in the process returning the profits on capital injection. Winning the league has been shown to be a money affair.
Retrived from www.celebritiesmoney.com
What are the opportunities present for the growth of the club? The potential for the Mariners to grow is tremendous, both at the location and to international markets. The local population is growing and so is the average income of people. Seattle has attracted big business names to the town which have also attracted labor from different parts of the country. The effect is compounding in the increase in wealth and increased commercial activities. The Mariners, therefore, have the chance to tap into this massive increment in the population who will help them enhance their revenues. The area experiences great weather and an atmosphere that encourages year round outdoor events (Seattle Mariner, n. d.).
Threats are the risks that the firm is subject to adverse performance because of the environmental changes impacting the franchise are unfavorable. For example, other team sports have been on the rise in the region which has proven to be quite crowd pullers. Soccer popularity in the United States is growing, and the Seattle Sounders, the region's elite football team has attracted quite a following despite being more recent than the Mariners. According to a survey done by Kolnay (2015), the Seattle Sounders was the most favorite team rank by searches conducted online and also by the number of ticket sales. It also found that the Sounders have the highest average attendance amongst all the Major Soccer League teams.
Competitive Analysis
The Mariners prospects do not look very good if the sport is to develop beyond its current state. The present situation is not very appealing and should prompt the decision makers into definitive action. Through the lens of Porters 5 forces model, this paper will examine the current model and the strategy or lack thereof of the franchise. The first force is the threat of new entrants into the industry. The team is the official representative of the King County. It would require a lot of effort to have another team contest the Mariners. Other local teams in the region cannot match the might of the Mariners. These play in lower leagues and act as feeder clubs. The team also has a huge brand name that is very popular with the people of this region.
The threat of substitutes is very real to the Mariners, and this factor is a huge one that management should address immediately and more efficiently. The alternatives go beyond the other teams in the MLB but transcend to the domestic and upcoming sports that are getting popular by the day. The enterprise should seek to corporate with other teams to create thrills so that the sport can also grow and begin tapping into new talent like soccer is doing. Reddy (n. d.) claims that the popularity of soccer among teenagers is rising, and it is tied with that of baseball, though, in absolute numbers, football is more popular. The teenage represent the future of the sport; it is important to ‘hook’ them early.
The supplier power is to the advantage of the firm. Feeder clubs which provide talent and potential players do it for a fee. The team also has scouts visiting different academies to prospect for signings for the next generation of star players. The buyer is viewed as the spectator numbers that views through the TV or live events. Time for the modern spectator is a scarce commodity as the access to the internet has provided alternative forms of entertainment. Marketers have been forced to innovate and change their ways of doing things to draw this online audience into live events (Holt, 2016). Live events and services provide a different form of challenge to marketers for such companies because the demand evaporates as soon as the start of the event commences. Social media is an avenue that carries away people and the modern marketer must learn to create a buzz online so that the numbers translate to actual profits on the ground.
The rivalry among the sports teams makes the Seattle team appear like a dwarf due to the lack of branding and pulling capacity of the stars who demand a huge salary. The firm has learned this and has gotten international stars like Hisashi Iwakuma, who is Japanese and attracts a huge following which can increase demand for the merchandise in that country (Zucker, n. d.).
Marketing and social Media
The club is very welcoming and appreciates the need for information to its fan base. It has a website and is present is the big five of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and Pinterest. However, social media is fickle and the owners change algorithm and search indexing in a flash, Tully (2014) explains that you should also accompany that with your website which is 100% your. Businesses should not neglect to have an e-commerce site. Social media should be a feeder into the website, and the website is where the business is happening and is also the interface for customer interaction (Holt, 2016).

Recommendation
The firm should engage superstars in their business models. Fans will love to see the people they celebrate before their eyes. Star players are individuals who can also swing the game in their favor by having skills that the competitors will covet. Such a step would be a declaration of intent to the big league teams which will help increase rivalry and a buzz in the media, thereby attracting attention. The more these firms are different in the league, the more support they will get from the locals who will want to defend their teams passionately.
Diversify the sources of income for the team. The firm should not be relying wholly on revenues from the tickets that they collect as entrance fee. In fact, since the game is for the community, the ticket prices should be lowered to allow a full capacity stadium that looks good on cameras. Slowly, this builds a habit, and people begin to attend game sessions. It is also a way to harness the young population and encourage them to love the sport. Income could be generated from the sales of merchandise around the stadium and in outlets around the globe. The firm also should invest in a YouTube channel to encourage people to watch content that it legally owns and keep them in suspense until the next live game. YouTube is a major source of passive income which could go a long way in offsetting bills in the Park.
Going beyond the local market by signing players from around the globe will increase the marketability of the Mariners beyond the local appearance. The signing of Iwakuma, a Japanese, has grown the franchise’s popularity in Japan. The firm should aim to get into foreign markets. The team should scout non-natives as well to encourage viewers to subscribe to get the content from their nations. The objective of this is to promote local TV to acquire rights towards airing games and also help the sale of merchandise in areas that other MLB teams have not saturated.

References
Eaton, N. (March 10, 2015 ) Seattle Pi. Seattle Mariners made $11.6 million profit in 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2016 from http://blog.seattlepi.com/baseball/2015/03/10/seattle-mariners-made-11-6-million-profit-in-2014/
Editors (n.d. )SWOT Analysis : Discover New Opportunities, Manage and Eliminate Threats. Mind Tools. Retrieved May 27, 2016 from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/ newTMC_05.htm
Holt, D. (2016). Branding in the age of social media. Harvard Business Review, 94(3), 40-+.
Kolnay, P (February 9, 2015). Ranking MLS’ most popular teams; New research reveals fascinating results: World Soccer. Talks Retrieved May 27, 2016 from http://worldsoccertalk.com/2015/02/09/ranking-mls-most-popular-teams-new-research-reveals-fascinating-results/
Tully, J. (August 20, 2014) Domains, hosting and websites explained for small business: Delta Strategic Marketing. Retrieved May 27, 2016 from https://dsm-llc.com/social-media-does-not-replace-a-marketing-plan/
Seattle PFD (n.d.). Finance. Retrieved May 27, 2016, from http://www.ballpark.org/finance.aspx
Seattle Mariners (n.d.). In wikipedia. Retrieved May 27, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Seattle_Mariners
Zucker, J. (n.d.) Hisashi Iwakuma Injury: Updates on Mariners SP's Lat and Return. Bleacher Report. Retrieved May 27, 2016 from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2442672-hisashi-iwakuma-injury-updates-on-mariners-sps-lat-and-return

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