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Two minutes for boarding
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - by Tim Bojarski

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As I was hunkered down and snowed in over the weekend, I “found time” to watch the Buffalo Sabres play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. It was a pretty good game as the worst hockey team in the league upset one that was riding an eight-game winning streak. But shortly after turning the game on, I noticed something that became more interesting to me than the game.


When the play went from end to end the first time, I couldn’t help but notice the large Scioto Downs Racino ad on the boards, just inside the blue line. I have seen casino’s run ads on the boards before but I don’t remember seeing one for a racetrack.

More than 750,000 sports fans see the Scioto Downs board ads shown above each year


As the game went on I kept thinking to myself, what a great idea it was to buy that space and advertise their race track. Just consider the facts; you’re selling a sport to an arena full of established sports fans plus you have a captive TV audience both at home and away where you might pick up people who could look for your track at simulcast. And when you crunch the numbers, the sensibility gets even more profound when you figure how many people you can reach for such a little amount of money.


I don’t know what the Columbus Blue Jackets charge for their advertising space in the Nationwide Arena, but I did find where Ottawa charges $30,000 for eight feet of boards for 41 games and Buffalo charges $19,000 for 10 feet. Whereas I am sure each deal is different, let’s use an average of $25,000 for this example.


Nationwide Arena holds 18,500 fans for hockey games and there are 41 games played there each year, so that gives you a possible 758,500 people who will see that ad each year. Their cable TV broadcast reaches approximately 10,000 homes according to sportsbusinessdaily.com and with the average size of the American family being 2.54 in 2013, that is another possible one million-plus people who could view the tracks advertisement remotely. And we haven’t even begun to figure how many out-of-town viewers from the other teams would see it too.


So for around $25,000 you could place your track’s name clearly visible in front of more than 1.8 million people from October to April. That would make your advertising budget a little over one cent per person. And if only one percent actually came out to watch live racing or wagered off-site as a result of seeing it, that could generate 18,000 new customers.


I would be curious to know if any other tracks use this form of advertising and if not, why? It’s clear that Scioto Downs did their homework and are definitely on to something. 20 out of the 30 teams in the NHL have harness tracks located in close proximity to them and those tracks would be wise to try and coerce these reams of rabid hockey fans into coming to view our sport when the home team is out of town. They can watch the game at the track too, and maybe place a bet along the way. 

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