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Where are the roller derby fans in Duluth?

As a Harbor City Roller Dame, it baffles me that we are yet to reach our goal of selling out tickets at the DECC Pioneer Hall since playing there the Fall of 2010. Many skaters are involved in or support the local arts and music scene. We are professionals that live and work in this community. The Dames give back by selecting a local charity to receive a financial contribution and/or volunteer our time.  So it begs me to ask: Why is roller derby not as popular or successful in Duluth as it is in say Minneapolis or even smaller towns like Grand Rapids, MN?

Larger cities support multiple teams and are still successful. While locally we’ve seen numbers fall in the last year as our competitiveness has enhanced (we were undefeated until last month’s bout). Roller derby continues to gain popularity across the nation but is slightly stunted here. We need our fans to show their continued support and find ways to reach other demographics to spread the love of derby in Duluth. Our performance is bolstered by the encouragement of our sports enthusiasts.

Does the PDD community have any thoughts on what we can do to fill our seats? Comments? Feedback?

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22 Comment(s)

  1. Duluth doesn’t seem big on local sports outside school stuff. I mean, we couldn’t support a minor league baseball team and had to replace it with an even minor-er league team.

    Nettles | May 18, 2012 | New Comment
  2. I want to go, but my calendar never agrees to it.

    BadCat! | May 18, 2012 | New Comment
  3. I am the biggest fan of the Dames in PDD land, at least, and I have three suggestions.

    1. Announcements about bouts have been more and more visible this year. Keep that up. Last year, I missed matches just because I didn’t know when they were.

    2. Can you get some TV coverage of bouts from Fox21? They seem to support all things local. The charity angle is doubly local.

    3. This last one is most important to me: your web presence is static and meh. Do any of your members go to UWS or UMD? If so, talk to me or to my friends at UWS and let’s get your student an internship credit or three. Every week, every practice could include an update on the team, a spotlight on a team member, even some trash talk about how you wanna crush those Fargoans for what they did to you in your own turf. Use something like a blog to keep the team on the fan’s mind in the multiple long weeks between some bouts. Link to those posts on the Facebook feed. Make sure to tag the sponsors, the after party location, community groups your skaters are members of, the charities you are benefiting. Those tags will connect you to more possible viewers.

    I’ll be honest, when the cold months come and there is a month between bouts at home, I forget we have a team, kind of. And I have no way of getting results for away games except to visit the web page, if I remember. And I love the sport as much as anybody who can only be a spectator can love the sport.

    I would say: when you are not a physical presence, be a stronger web presence. And use that web presence to make me a fan not just of the awesome jammers, but the whole team.

    Note: I guarantee nothing except more people like me with this strategy.

    rhetoricguy@gmail.com | May 19, 2012 | New Comment
  4. +1

    adam | May 19, 2012 | New Comment
  5. PS Killah Cletah rules.

    rhetoricguy@gmail.com | May 19, 2012 | New Comment
  6. One more idea: The Minneapolis team is very visible in Nerd Culture. They often have a table at SpringCon, FallCon and CONvergence.

    Maybe there’s a Nerd Nite presentation in the future for the Dames?

    rhetoricguy@gmail.com | May 19, 2012 | New Comment
  7. Thanks so much for your insight, rhetoricguy! I plan to bring up your suggestions to our board at our next meeting.
    Also, I would love to do a Nerd Nite presentation. There are over 30 pages in the WFTDA rule book which we follow. Maybe I could get a rule nerd like Evil Jeffey to help me with that as well.

    @ Bad Cat: Any suggestions as to other times/day of the week that might work better?

    @Nettles: I don’t buy that argument because there are many other sports that do well in Duluth especially hockey.

    CLeTa | May 20, 2012 | New Comment
  8. CLeTa,

    I’ve been working for 4-5 years getting a few folks to show up for our goofy folk dances and it has been hard and frustrating work.

    I am part of your problem, as I’ve been interested in coming to see our HC Roller Dames for over a year and, like BatCat!, I’m either out-of-town or committed elsewhere.

    I’d like to think that Duluthians are pretty get-out-of-the-housey type folks and in my heart, I feel that’s true. I’d like to believe the problem is that Duluth has so much more to offer than Grand Rapids, you and i have more competition.

    I have been seeing your posters around and can find your bout schedule online. So, you’re heading in the right direction.

    I don’t agree with Nettles either. (Sorry Nettles).

    On the bright side, whenever I came home super frustrated from a low turn-out, the next dance would be packed and this season we saw lots of ebbs and flows again, but never dropped below 40 dancers.

    My guess is that we get 10% new folks each month and 60% of those get hooked into coming back consistently. So, it’s slow work and over-thinking it has never done anything but keep me awake longer than I should.

    Good Luck.

    banjo tom | May 20, 2012 | New Comment
  9. Piggybacking on what rhetoricguy recommended, I would say that you might consider contacting one of the marketing departments at UWS, UMD or CSS. Often, professors are looking for projects for students to work on that have real-world implications.

    And speaking of the colleges, have you considered trying to get college kids interested in the sport? I haven’t seen any publicity about your matches other than downtown. You might consider getting posters up there and see if you get any response (might be limited for this summer, but next year?).

    I can help you with some of the posting regulations for UMD, if you’re interested--email me at bunky417 gmail.

    jessige | May 20, 2012 | New Comment
  10. @CLeTa: No, the days/times of the bouts are fine, I’m just chronically unlucky. I’m not a really busy person with much going on, but if there’s a bout in town, I check my calendar, and there’s something already sitting there. Bad luck I guess…

    BadCat! | May 20, 2012 | New Comment
  11. And second the Nerd Night presentation idea! (though Nerd Nights also suffer from the same calendar curse -- I was just able to attend my first one recently).

    BadCat! | May 20, 2012 | New Comment
  12. Do you proselytize among the youth? My daughters have Detroit Derby Girls t-shirts in very small sizes, courtesy of their aunt, sometime roller derby starlet--having never gotten my act together to get out to a bout here, I don’t know what percentage of the Twin Ports audience is made up of small girls who have dragged their aged parents along, but it seems like a demographic that might be worth exploring if it hasn’t been.

    The Big E | May 20, 2012 | New Comment
  13. I third the Nerd Nite presentation. I had thought of that Saturday during the explanation portion of the bout and thought, “This is a really nerdy sport. Nerds would be enthralled by the different roles and strategy!”

    So, yeah, Nerd Nite. Make it so.

    Lawrence Lee | May 21, 2012 | New Comment
  14. jessige: Our next bout will be in the Fall now. I would love for us to have more visibility on all the local campuses. We do poster at all of them but often posters seem to disappear. Thanks for your contact info as I will be in touch in the future.

    @ Banjo Tom: Where do you have your folk dances?

    @ The Big E: We have selected Girl Scouts as a charity last year. A month ago we had another Girl Scouts troop come and watch us scrimmage but that’s about all we have done with younger potential audience members. Something to think about…

    Who do you contact to submit a Nerd Nite presentation?

    CLeTa | May 21, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Nerd Night contact: http://duluth.nerdnite.com/14-2/

    BadCat! | May 21, 2012 | New Comment
  16. What? We have a derby team? Who knew? Me!!!!!!!!!

    c-freak | May 21, 2012 | New Comment
  17. Are bouts small-kid friendly? What’s the youngest age that would be appropriate to attend?

    YouKnowMe | May 21, 2012 | New Comment
  18. @YouKnowMe: Bouts are kid friendly! Children age 10 and under get in for free.

    My children, ages 8 and 2 usually attend our bouts. Although, they go shortly after 9:00pm, so it gets a little late for my small guy. Other mommy skaters bring their children as well of varying ages.

    CLeTa | May 21, 2012 | New Comment
  19. Or helmet-wearing, raw meat-eating boyfriends.

    adam | May 21, 2012 | New Comment
  20. CLeTa,
    I thought your postering effort for the last event was very good. Previously I would hear about an event, but never remember when it was. The multitude of posters this last time was a very effective way to keep it on my mind.

    schmood1971 | May 22, 2012 | New Comment
  21. Thanks, CLeTa. We’ve been reluctant to attend with our kids and prefer to attend events where our kids are welcome too. We will definitely be regular attendees now!

    YouKnowMe | May 22, 2012 | New Comment
  22. Derby is very kid friendly.

    c-freak | May 22, 2012 | New Comment

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