Jets fans love to hear from the owner Woody Johnson. Maybe it’s because in today’s corporate world, the public faces of ownership, other than John Mara, are pretty much missing from the media landscape. Anyone have a Steinbrenner sighting recently? Dolan anyone? Who exactly owns the Islanders? And Prokorov? Not in the area. It is a different marketplace for sure, but hearing from the business side in times other than crisis is always welcomed, and Johnson’s Jets hat and simple, approachable style has always made him a fan favorite, in both good times and bad.
While owners are the check writers, there are those who run the day to day who are also welcomed to be heard from, and it looks like Gang Green is taking steps when Johnson is not around to make sure that a senior exec is out and about. Case in point was Wednesday night, when NYVC Sports hosted an open forum with Jets President Neil Glat.
Now in his fourth year, Glat has not been much of the public face of the Jets, deferring to those on the football side and to Johnson, but as Wednesday’s q and a with media personality Seth Everett revealed, the former NFL exec now in his fourth year at the helm of the team has a firm grasp not just on the day to day, but on the future business of the team, and their growth in engagement with both the hardcore and the casual fans. Some of the points he laid home for the packed room of about 200 sports and business executives included:
The club is in dialogue to engage more with Fireman Ed as a more consistent presence in and around games. A fan forum revealed that Jets supporters like having him around, and the team is finding ways to get him more involved that don’t seem contrived or disingenuous.
The Jets will expand their community initiative to combat bullying amongst young people this year, making it a big priority for the club. Eric Decker was the face of the first stage of the program last year, and it will grow in 2016.
The Jets Rewards digital ticketing program has been a success with fans, and will also be expanded as a way to get fans more engaged with the team, especially on game days. By incenting fans to retrieve points for experiences by coming into Met Life Stadium earlier last season, lines entering the facility were actually decreased by as much as ten minutes, and that should improve more in 2016.
Glat also touched on more use of technology to improve the fan experience in Met life, making it more of a connected stadium. He said wireless connectivity, which was an issue when the stadium opened, continues to get better, and that the team is looking into everything from power sources at seats to more engagement on the team’s mobile app as ways to make fans even more incented to be involved in the conversation of everything going on during game day. The expansion of use of Virtual Reality technology, originally brought in to help the coaching staff only, will also be expanded to increase the stadium experience for the fans this year as well.
He also went out of his way to clear up the misconception that the Jets and Giants are fierce business competitors in the marketplace off the field. The teams are more business partners because of the stadium than most fans believe, and the success of everyone playing at Met Life helps raise the business profile for both Big Blue and Gang Green.
When asked when the team would bring back the green helmets and darker color jerseys of the glory days of the ‘80’s, he said the team was looking at options bit no timetable was laid out.
With regard to the onfield challenges, he knowingly deferred to the coaching and personnel staff, but added how much he liked having Ryan Fitzpatrick as a member of the team, although those decisions were not up to him in any way. He also addressed the way the team handles news coverage, saying that content created by the Jets does not sugar coat things, but certainly doesn’t “dig deep” when times are tough, and that policy will continue.
All in all the evening provide a refreshing look into the thought process of the business side of one of New York’s most beloved brands without getting deep into areas which are left up to coaches and GM’s to sort through. One message that came through was clear though; the Jets as a business property are making great strides, perhaps bigger ones than most people realize, in fan engagement 24/7 as they battle not just the other teams in the marketplace, but all the pushes and pulls people have for the entertainment dollar.
Will winning help? For sure. But making sure the fan is engaged when the games aren’t going on is sometimes just, if not more, valuable for the bottom line health of the franchise.