Case Study – Toronto RUSH

Ultimate Disc moves to the Big Leagues with help from Cosmos.


Executive Summary

Since 1942, Ultimate Disc has been a sport played in parks, University campuses, and High school gym classes across North America. But everything changed when Josh Moore founded the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) in 2010, with it’s inaugural season taking place in 2012. This new league would become the world’s first ever professional Ultimate Disc league, putting the sport on the path to mainstream relevance in North American sports scene.

After a relatively successful first season, a group north of the 49th parallel was eager to bring the exciting new form of the sport to Canada.

About Toronto RUSH

The Toronto RUSH are Canada’s first and most successful professional Ultimate team. Playing it’s inaugural season in 2013, the team saw immediate success, both on and off the field. Through its first season, the RUSH posted an undefeated record, on route to winning the AUDL Championship. Off the field, the team has boasted a strong loyal fan base. Since it’s inaugural season, the RUSH has continued to build its supporter base in the crowded Toronto sports market.

The Challenges

As a new professional team, in a new league, playing a relatively unknown sport to the general public, in a crowded Toronto sports market, the RUSH were immediately facing an uphill battle. The team needed to get the word out about the upcoming season, launch a professional ticketing operation, and meet with Corporate Canada to seek corporate sponsorship; all with the impending season opener looming just 8 short months away. As a Start-Up franchise, there was no infrastructure in place yet, so everything needed to be well thought out and executed, quickly.

The Solution

Understanding the need for urgency, Cosmos was brought on to assist the new Start-Up team in getting off the ground. The Cosmos group quickly mobilized, and developed ticketing, sponsorship, and marketing plans for the team.

It was identified that Varsity Stadium would be the best venue to host the RUSH. Located centrally, with easy access by car, public transit, and walking, it was the perfect destination. Having a pre-established relationship with U of T, Cosmos was able to initiate discussions about a venue lease. This was a first for both the RUSH and U of T, as Varsity was not historically rented to outside groups.

With a team name, logo, and venue in place, Cosmos began working with a 3rd party web developer to design the team’s first website. This was followed by establishing ticket prices, sponsorship inventory, and marketing collateral.

As the Home Opener approached, there was a definite buzz amongst the ultimate community. To further entice those less familiar with the sport, Cosmos wanted to ensure that the entertainment being offered extended beyond simply the play on the field. This meant carefully curating music, and visuals to show on the video board. It also meant building out a sizable game day staff made up of Cosmos staff, part time staff, volunteers and interns.

As the season progressed, a focus on revenue generation was maintained, with emphasis placed on building the team`s fan database, and continuously reaching out to new potential group leaders.

The Results

Ticket Sales
– Average attendance hovered around 1000 fans per game
– High water mark of 2300 fans at inaugural home opener (an official world record at the time for paid attendance at a professional Ultimate game)

Sponsorship
– Major partners included: TELUS, Pizza Pizza, Goodlife, Domino’s Pizza, Subway, and Zipcar.

Marketing

– Successfully launched the new team and brand in the Toronto market.
– Launched teams website, and completed a full re-design in-house for the 2016 season.
– Launched and Grew Social Media across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.
– Created the team slogan: Feel The Rush that unified the team’s overall marketing campaign.

Game Day Operations
– Established the framework for professional Game Day operation including: scripts, programs, staffing, and entertainment.
– Executed all game days

Testimonial

“L2 Sports Management partnered with Cosmos Sports to provide sales and operations support for our expansion professional Ultimate Frisbee franchises in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa. Over a 5 year period, Cosmos was a key contributor in the creation of our go to market strategy, our operational model and our franchise branding. The staff and management were always passionate about our success and provided valuable insight into the sports industry”

Jim Lloyd
L2 Sports Management
Managing Partner