DIGIDECK helps Halifax Thunderbirds build momentum in new market
The National Lacrosse League’s Halifax Thunderbirds needed a way to quickly introduce the game to a new market and begin building momentum ahead of their inaugural season.
When the former Rochester Knighthawks moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2019, the longrunning National Lacrosse League franchise wasn’t just the new team on the block.
The newly-named Halifax Thunderbirds faced a much more basic problem: Selling the region, which also boasts soccer and basketball teams, as well as Canadian Major Junior hockey, on professional lacrosse.
“While Halifax had a small lacrosse community it was important to educate businesses in the area about the game of lacrosse,” President and CEO John Catalano said. “We had meetings where people would ask us: ‘How many players are on the field? They just had no idea what the sport was.’”
With little time to spare, conveying the energy and enthusiasm of an NLL game to prospective partners and potential fans was critical.
“We had a very small window of time to start a new franchise,” Catalano said.
Fortunately, the Thunderbirds already had the perfect solution to their problem.
DIGIDECK users for six years, Catalano and Vice President of Marketing and Sponsorships Avery Light were able to bring the sights and sounds of professional lacrosse to all their presentations via the cloud-based platform’s multimedia features.
From securing new partnerships and group ticket sales to launching the Thunderbirds branding, DIGIDECK played a key role in the team’s rebirth.
“I can’t tell you how important this particular platform is to me,” Light said. “It’s very user friendly and efficient. The time I don’t have to spend training someone is vital.”
The Thunderbirds continue to find new ways to leverage the platform.
“We had a ‘lunch and learn’ event for our partners, to just show them what the game is. Instead of using something like PowerPoint, we just build that right in DIGIDECK,” Catalano said. “We did the presentation live, and then it was very easy to send them a link so that they could watch it.”
COVID-19 cut Halifax’s inaugural season short, but the Thunderbirds, who finished atop the NLL’s North Division at 8-4, should have no shortage of momentum on their side once play resumes. Halifax’s home opener drew 6,847 fans back in December, a number that was on a steady upward trajectory as they continued to pile up wins.
The Thunderbirds’ 11-9 win over the Buffalo Bandits on March 8 — their final game before the season was suspended on March 12 — drew 8,359 fans — a testament to the growing popularity of the franchise and sport in the region.
Catalano credit’s the team’s digital offerings for helping fill Scotiabank Centre.
“A lot of that had to do with our digital content,” Catalano said. “That’s why we love DIGIDECK. The game just jumps off the page. It’s not just a flat piece of paper.”
Light says DIGIDECK is helping to keep the Thunderbirds on the cutting edge.
“We want to always show that we’re forward-thinking,” she said. “With everything going on right now, it’s definitely going to accelerate that process.”
With plans to leverage DIGIDECK in even more departments next season, the Thunderbirds are just getting started. “We’re planning to use it for recruiting on the team side when we’re going after free agents,” Catalano said. “It’s such a great platform. We keep trying to find new and innovative ways to use it across the entire organization.”