OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Dodgers and their alternate Hispanic/Latino identity, Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City, have been named one of five finalists to be awarded the inaugural Copa de la Diversión™, or Fun Cup™, by Minor League Baseball™.
The Dodgers were one of 33 teams across Minor League Baseball in 2018 to compete for Copa de la Diversión while participating in the Es Divertido Ser Un Fan® (It's Fun to Be a Fan®) campaign, which aimed to better authentically embrace the cultures and values of U.S. Hispanic/Latino fans in the community. Among the goals of Es Divertido Ser Un Fan were celebrating each community's multi-cultural fans and creating a culturally relevant gameday experience through music, concessions and promotions.
This past season, Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City took the field for a total of eight home games over two series known as ¡Celebración Cielo Azul! In addition to the team's unique jerseys and hats, the gameday environment encapsulated other elements of Hispanic/Latino culture at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, including music, live performances by folkloric dancers and mariachi bands, concourse decorations, special menu items, a Spanish-speaking public address announcer, increasing bilingual customer service staff and producing bilingual game programs.
Community initiatives were also a large part the Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City efforts. The team held a free public brand reveal event at Supermercados Morelos in south Oklahoma City in March to kick off the campaign, and the OKC Dodgers Street Team was present at several Hispanic/Latino community events throughout the year. During ¡Celebración Cielo Azul!, the team honored local Hispanic/Latino influencers. Along with the OKC Dodgers Baseball Foundation, the team helped raise over $5,500 for the Latino Community Development Agency through ticket sales and a jersey auction.
Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City was featured in the Sports Business Journal in September, prompting Hispanic/Latino marketing expert Tom Cordova to say: "Their fundamental approach is a lesson all leagues and teams should heed: Methodically engaging and learning from Hispanic community organizations, combined with making and funding the commitment to earn Hispanics' business is an investment that brings an exponential return-on investment."
"When we decided to participate in Copa de la Diversión we knew we had to go all-in," said OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes. "Throughout this whole process we were able to establish relationships with key members of the local Hispanic/Latino community, who not only helped develop our identity, but help recruit new fans to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark."
To help accomplish the team's objectives, the Dodgers enlisted the help of Tango Public Relations, which has been engrained in the Oklahoma City Hispanic/Latino community for over 12 years.
"Jorge Hernández and his team served as a guiding light for us during this process, and we would not have been this successful without their insight and expertise," Byrnes said.
The other finalists for the Copa de la Diversión are Mariachis de Nuevo México (Albuquerque Isotopes), Las Monarcas de Eugene (Eugene Emeralds), Los Cucuys de San Bernardino (Inland Empire 66ers) and Flying Chanclas de San Antonio (San Antonio Missions). The winner of Copa de la Diversíon will be named Dec. 10 at the 2018 Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
"The five finalists and their respective communities should celebrate this honor and achievement as their vision, inclusion and leadership have established the perfect playbook for other sports properties wanting to authentically connect with their local Latinx communities," said Kurt Hunzeker, Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Research for Minor League Baseball.
In September, Minor League Baseball announced Copa de la Diversión will more than double to 72 participating teams in 2019. ¡Celebración Cielo Azul! will return to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark June 20-23 vs. Memphis Música and July 19-21 vs. Flying Chanclas de San Antonio.
For more information about 2019 season tickets packages and group outings, please call (405) 218-1000 or visit okcdodgers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.