Driving Regional Growth and Community Engagement

Young fan is assisted by Globetrotter to execute a dunk.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Anderson for The Rotunda

For almost a century, the Harlem Globetrotters have been synonymous with fun and joy for families worldwide, creating lasting memories passed down through generations. Until recently, fans in Farmville and surrounding areas had to travel long distances to enjoy the Globetrotters live. This changed dramatically on April 2 when CENTERS @ Longwood University brought the Harlem Globetrotters to the Joan Perry Brock Center (JPB) for the first time, marking a significant milestone for the community. 

The Globetrotters’ performance was not just an enjoyable event but also a strategic move that showcased the potential of JPB as a vibrant entertainment hub. The event not only delighted the audience but also introduced the JPB, home to the Longwood Lancers Men’s and Women’s basketball programs, to a new generation of potential students. Moreover, it demonstrated the revenue-generating capabilities of the venue, hinting at a future where JPB could become a year-round asset for Longwood University and a source of economic growth for local businesses. 

The Impact of the Globetrotters for Longwood University and Community  

The Harlem Globetrotters event at Longwood JPB was more than entertainment; it was community engagement at its finest. Drawing in a significant number of first-time visitors to JPB, the event spotlighted the JPB as a dynamic community center and the premier entertainment destination in Central Virginia.  

Revenue from ticket sales and concessions was robust, indicating JPB’s capacity to attract crowds outside the basketball season and setting the stage for future revenue streams from similar events. The family-friendly atmosphere of the event aligned perfectly with Longwood University’s recruitment strategy, inviting potential students to experience campus life as Lancers. 

Building Community Beyond Lancer Basketball  

While a considerable portion of attendees were Longwood Lancer basketball season ticket holders or affiliated guests, the event also attracted 40% of its audience from new visitors to JPB. Large group ticket promotions were paired with local community outreach to bring civic, church, and school groups to the venue. These promotions contributed to guests from over 90 different zip codes from the surrounding area attending the event.  Additionally, these groups helped foster a family-friendly, small-town atmosphere that was visible throughout the day with many guests seen greeting each other by name while finding their seats. 

Cooperation and Innovation Through Resource and Experience Sharing  

Globetrotters scoreboard
State-of-the-art video scoreboard in action.

Together, the experienced corporate and site marketing team for CENTERS have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in event revenue over their careers. It is this experience that the CENTERS @ Longwood team could easily leverage and combine with their own extensive experience to optimize this event.  The CENTERS site team, seasoned professionals who understand what it takes to bring a large touring event to life, focused on entertainer hospitality and customer service to showcase the JPB as a premier venue and encourage repeat bookings by the Globetrotters.  

The team reviewed artist requirements and technical specifications in advance to ensure these requirements were executed flawlessly. The technical capabilities of the building are impressive, with a massive video screen and a broadcast booth. Expert operators were brought in to execute the show to rider specifications. Permission was granted by Longwood Athletics for the beautifully appointed locker rooms to be used by the Globetrotters.  When the requested meal delivery services were not available in the small town of Farmville, the CENTERS team sprang into action and found a welcomed local market alternative.  It is these small touches that ensure that every event, like the Globetrotters, is not just successful for the venue but for the performers, as well. 

To date, there have been rave reviews of the event from the artists and audiences alike and the Harlem Globetrotters are already scheduled to come back next year.  

Marketing Wins and Strategies Implemented to Ensure Success 

Strategic marketing campaigns and extensive collaborative relationships with key promotional stakeholders played a crucial role in driving ticket sales for the Globetrotters event.  

Happy crowd at Globetrotters event.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Anderson for The Rotunda.

Building off the momentum generated by multi-channel marketing campaigns designed for the launch of the JPB in August of 2023, the CENTERS team honed its marketing machine to expand reach into both the university and community audiences.  Partnering with the Globetrotters to leverage historical data and audience insights, the CENTERS team rolled out a local, multi-channel campaign that included radio, newspapers, digital platforms, university outlets, and local partnerships to complement the national advertising executed by the Globetrotters organization.  

The CENTERS @ Longwood University team’s campaign was cost-efficient and turnkey as it built on collaborations already in place with local media outlets and the university. In all advertising, the new Joan Perry Brock Center was also strategically emphasized as a new premier place to see big brand name acts like the Globetrotters.  

CENTERS negotiated ticket promotion trade agreements with local radio stations and placed low-cost ads in local and regional papers. Posters and flyers with QR codes were distributed and displayed at local businesses. Local municipalities and community calendars were also kept informed which generated awareness and goodwill advertising on the Chamber of Commerce’s website and social media channels.  The team also leveraged Longwood University Marketing and Communications channels, email, flyers, website, and social media to promote to students, faculty, and staff. 

Longwood Student Impact and Development 

Globetrotters pop-up merchandise stand
Globetrotters pop-up merchandise stand.

Student development is mission critical at all CENTERS operated sites and the JPB is no exception. For large events like the Globetrotters, there are 35-50 part-time employees working at a variety of positions including retail, guest services, operations, security, and production. Each of these part-time staff are given training and professional development opportunities throughout their employment.  Many are able to parlay real-world entertainment and sports marketing experience into future careers.

Marketing efforts of the JPB are enhanced by CENTERS’ close collaborations with the Communications Studies department. The student staff filmed a YouTube video with a plug for the Globetrotters. Internal Longwood University Communications outlets were utilized and staff and student promotions were advertised via email, flyer, and posters across the campus. Student photography and videography featured prominently in pre– and post-event coverage. A new program is being developed in collaboration with Longwood University’s Communications Studies department to further enhance both marketing efforts and student experience, providing students with hands-on experience and valuable skills applicable to real-world scenarios.

Economic Impact on Farmville Community  

Beyond ticket sales, the Globetrotters event had a ripple effect on local businesses including restaurants, convenience stores, and gas stations. The event brought close to 1,600 guests from a 45-mile radius into the downtown area that would not normally be out and about on a weeknight. This showcases the event’s broader economic significance and aligns perfectly with Longwood University’s commitment to fostering community prosperity and development. 

The success of the Globetrotters event exemplifies CENTERS @ Longwood JPB’s commitment to innovation and community engagement. Leveraging CENTERS’ collaborative focus, strategic marketing prowess, and operational excellence underscores the transformative potential of campus life facilities in driving regional growth and fostering meaningful connections with diverse audiences. As CENTERS continues to spearhead impactful events, it reinforces its position as a catalyst for positive change within Longwood University and the broader Farmville community. 

Headshot of Craig Stover
About the Author: Craig Stover brings over two decades of extensive experience in arena management to his role as General Manager of the Joan Perry Brock Center for CENTERS @ Longwood University. With a background that includes senior leadership positions at iconic venues such as Madison Square Garden and PNC Arena, coupled with certifications in Ice Technologies and Mechanical and Electrical Print Reading, Mr. Stover has a proven track record of excellence in facility operations, event management, and team leadership. His transition to the higher education space with CENTERS highlights his exceptionally collaborative approach, bridging expertise from major entertainment venues to create impactful experiences for university communities. 

 

For more information, visit the CENTERS Joan Perry Brock Center at Longwood University page.