Since the beginning of the 2019-2020 season, the Beauts have been heavily involved in the Buffalo community. Each month the Beauts have held or attended an event in the area, and their presence hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Far from just staying afloat following Pegula Sports and Entertainment’s departure and the team’s move to Northtown Center at Amherst, this year’s Beauts have been fully embraced by the Buffalo community. When they took the ice at Buffalo RiverWorks at the end of December, they did so in front of over 1,000 excited and vocal fans. So what’s the secret? How have the ‘new’ Beauts endeared themselves to their community after losing so many fan favorites and moving out of the city and into the suburbs?
They have appeared at the Buffalo History Museum, brought stuffed toys to children at the Oishei Children’s Hospital, and were a part of “Santa’s Workshop” at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens. They’ve also been a part of local news coverage and have a monthly radio show on WBFO 88.7 FM.
In January they’ll return to the Buffalo History Museum, host a charity fundraiser at a local bowling alley, and host an event at the Buffalo Public Library.
The events are not mandatory for the players, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. They’ve thrown themselves wholeheartedly into being more than just hockey players representing the City of Good Neighbors — they’ve become good neighbors themselves, a part of their community, a representation of the kind giving spirit that Buffalo is known for. Six of the Beauts are New York natives. Two of them — Maddie Norton and Nikki Kirchberger — are from Buffalo, and Emma Ruggiero is from Amherst. The rest of them, though, have proven to fit in just as well.
“Santa’s Workshop” at the @BuffaloGardens was a wonderful way to spend a wintry day in Buffalo with #Beauts fans of all ages! Thank you for having us, and special thanks to all the fans who stopped by to see us and Santa! #NWHL #ChristmasBeauts— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) December 14, 2019
: @mikehetzelphoto pic.twitter.com/uiiV9vYUNE
The benefits of this kind of community involvement are multi-dimensional. First and most obvious, having Beauts players at local businesses and venues raises awareness about the team, league and sport. People visiting the History Museum who may not have any idea their town had a pro team will leave not only knowing about the team but also having met a few of the players. In turn, this makes them more likely to get invested in the team as a whole. Obviously, being able to market pro athletes as attendees for events like Santa’s Workshop also helps the businesses draw more patrons, so the businesses benefit, too.
Beyond the business benefits, events like this help the players embed themselves socially into their communities. The Beauts players are more than just hockey players, and their involvement in their community enriches their lives and their experiences just as much as it contributes to marketing for the team and for the league. The NWHL is already a destination for players like Iveta Klimášová, Lenka Čurmová and Tiffany Hsu, who all joined the Beauts from overseas this season. These events ensure that Buffalo becomes home for players like them and their teammates, which, in a market where players only sign one-year contracts, can make all the difference in retaining players from season to season.
Your #Beauts are set up in section 108 at the @OHLIceDogs game at the @MeridianCentre_! Give us a follow, take a picture with us at the #IceDogs game, tweet it out and tag us for a chance to win 2 tickets to our Dec. 28th outdoor game! #NWHL @RiverWorksBFLO @LabattUSA pic.twitter.com/rTBj68nuQ5— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) December 19, 2019
Other teams can and should follow suit. In addition to marketers, each team should find a way to invest in a role that helps specifically address the presence of their team in the community--not just as a brand, but as people. If the Buffalo Believes Classic taught us anything, it’s that the time and effort put into community outreach can and will pay off.