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The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Rangers Woo Hispanic Fans

By Sean Wood

March 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. All rights reserved. 

The Texas Rangers are taking another run at reaching out to the Hispanic community with a new campaign that includes radio, television and print advertising along with special promotions and Spanish-language game broadcasts on radio and television.

Mike Cramer, president of the team, said the baseball club is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in man-hours and direct spending on this project.

The club launched a campaign to attract Hispanic fans late in the 1999 season, but that attempt didn't go far enough, Cramer said. The 1999 marketing program included announcement of a new Spanish-language broadcast team and a special promotion for Mexican Independence Day.

"It was a step," Cramer said of the effort in 1999. "If it takes 10 steps to get a job done, we took two or three steps. We didn't do the job. We didn't know enough to do the job."

As part of the latest effort to tap into the Hispanic market, the team has hired Ornelas & Associates in Dallas to produce a series of radio and television spots in Spanish.

The Rangers also hired Redan Bilingual Media to translate and distribute Spanish-language versions of the 2003 pocket schedule. And Redan has translated and distributed the Rangers' first Spanish-language fans' guide, La Guia Oficial para los Aficionados de los Texas Rangers.

"Hispanics love baseball," said Sal Morales, chairman of the Arlington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "This is a great initiative and the reason is there are so many Latin players and they are great role models for our children."

The fans' guide features pictures of Juan Gonzalez, who is originally from Puerto Rico; Rafael Palmeiro, who is from Cuba; Ismael Valdes, who is from Mexico; Alex Rodriguez, who is from New York; and Francisco Cordero, who is from the Dominican Republic.

Max Leseld, executive creative director with Ornelas & Associates, said the Rangers players, with their diverse backgrounds, reflect the diversity in the community. The next step is to get that diverse community into the stands, he said. "We want them to come and cheer for the Hispanic players who are playing on the field."

The club has signed a three-year agreement with Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. to carry all home and away games during the regular season. KESS/1270 AM will be the flagship station. Also, the KESS Spanish broadcasts will be available for 75 televised games on KDFI/Channel 27 for viewers with the SAP simulcast option. The first Spanish-language telecast will be April 1 from Anaheim, Calif., at 9:05 p.m.

Dan Migala, executive editor of Chicago-based Team Marketing Report, said teams' efforts geared at the Hispanic community are more the exception than the norm. But that is slowly changing, he said, with more teams making it a major initiative.

It is incumbent on the Rangers to cultivate new fans. Last season was the second-worst year for the team, in terms of drawing fans, since it moved to The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994. The only year that was worse was 1995, the year after a baseball strike.

Hispanic fans represent a potentially large, and mostly untapped, market for the Rangers.

According to the Census Bureau, Hispanics make up the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. Hispanics make up 35 percent of Texas' population and 19.7 percent in Tarrant County. The combined Hispanic population of Tarrant and Dallas Counties is 948,019.

"Everybody in the DFW area is a potential constituent," Cramer said. "Here is this big group that we weren't reaching."

He said the club estimates that about 250,000 Hispanic fans came to Rangers games last year. "The good news is, that's 10 percent of our fans," he said. "The bad news is that it's only 10 percent of our fans."

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