More flies (and fans) with honey (editorial)
London Community News
The London Rippers may be leaving the city on the same train of controversy they rode in on.
Some would argue there is no such thing as bad publicity and Rippers owner David Martin appears to subscribe to that theory. And in a sense, he may be right, or at least was in the beginning.
With its controversial name and logo, the Rippers generated international news headlines when the team announced they were bringing pro-ball back to London.
They rode that storm of publicity for months, leaving the city hanging about whether they’d change their name. They didn’t despite requests from city council and widespread outrage in the community.
The Rippers’ inaugural season launched without much fanfare and its fan base, judging by the many empty stadium seats, hasn’t exactly materialized.
With his field of dreams turning into a nightmare, Martin started blaming the lack of alcohol sales for the low turnout.
The London Majors hold the only regular liquor licence for the park and they’re not sharing. Ultimate control rests with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
After issuing a press release complaining about the city’s refusal to intervene and the Majors’ refusal to share with them, Martin took his tactics one step further this week in a move that left many dumbfounded.
He sent out another news release Monday night (June 25) challenging the Majors to a three-game winner-take-the-ballpark series. The losers would be forced to move out of the park, and the winner would gain control of the liquor licence.
“Labatt Park isn’t big enough for the two of us,” stated the opening paragraph of the news release.
The laughable part of this is that the Rippers don’t have any bargaining power to bring to this challenge. The Majors hold all the cards. Aside from a loyal fan base, they also have playing rights at the ballpark and the liquor licence to boot.
Why would they accept Martin’s challenge unless goaded by his machismo?
They have nothing to win and everything to lose.
Maybe it’s just Martin’s attempt to get more publicity or try to sway the court of public opinion, but judging by social media comments following his announcement, his plan might have backfired.
His aggressive tactics may not result in anything but fewer fans and less support for his team. No fans means no money, which ultimately might result in the team packing up and leaving the city, something Martin has already threatened.
Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity after all.