Monday, July 26, 2010

The Women in the Arena

Yesterday I stumbled upon KeyArena - former home to the NBA's Seattle Supersonics, and current home to the WNBA's Seattle Storm and Seattle University Redhawks . When I say 'stumbled' upon the arena, I mean it literally. The facility is the most unassuming professional arena I have ever seen. It's really hard to imagine that as recent as 14 years ago, the Sonics were hosting Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals... and that Kevin Durant played his first season in that arena only three years ago.

Opened in 1962, the structure sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood, lined with trees and not a parking lot in sight. The court itself sits some 35 feet below ground level, making the top of the facility appear to be only about 30 feet above ground. I'm not kidding when I say I've been to high school gymnasiums with a larger physical footprint.
Needless to say, in an era where 'bigger is better' the inevitable happened when the Sonics franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 after the state of Washington refused to support public funding of the much needed expansion of the 17,000 seat arena.
Standing there in amazement at the facility, my friend and I decided to buy some tickets to the evenings WNBA game between the Storm and the Tulsa Shock. Honestly, our interest in purchasing the tickets had nothing to do with watching the game in an empty arena, but more to do with wanting to see the inside of the facility. Boy were we in for a surprise.
Although the arena was small, the atmosphere inside was electric. Our late arrival (two minutes after tip-off) was met by 8,000 local residents standing on their feet cheering on their league leading Storm. Within seconds, the unassuming facade of the arena became a distant memory as the noise level inside the arena matched any large arena I've ever been to.
More than the noise, there was also a feeling of community within that arena that I've never felt at a professional sporting event (and I've been to a lot). The teams ability to integrate the fans into the game, combined with the intimacy of the arena made for a winning combination. I can only imagine how loud that place got when the Sonics played there. It's really a shame that there's only a few of these old-time facilities still around.

Okay, now to my point...
Fast Pitch! is the KeyArena of Social Networking
Much like KeyArena, Fast Pitch! caters to a smaller, hyper-local community interested in a cost-effective, yet highly valuable and personable experience. Similar to the Storm fans, the size of our arena (network) is irrelevant as long as what's happening inside our virtual doors offers value.
Much like a large 50,000 seat arena doesn't always guarantee an exciting experience... a 500 million member social network doesn't always guarantee new business.
The ball's in your court...



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