By. Chris Mycoskie - Feb 11, 2022
With the advent of NCAA rules allowing student-athletes to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness rights, the team at Peak Events looked for innovative ways to promote its two early-season college baseball tournaments. The Karbach Round Rock Classic and Frisco Classic have enjoyed great followings at two of the best Minor League Baseball stadiums in the country. NIL legislation has provided opportunities to build the brands and drive additional growth.
The result was first-of-its-kind partnerships with several college student-athletes. The Round Rock and Frisco events will be the first baseball tournaments to compensate participating players for driving ticket sales, while also partnering with athletes from other sports to increase interest.
“I immediately thought this was perfect for us,” Peak Events vice president Nathan Wooldridge said. “The driving force was wanting to be first. Capitalize on things changing and riding the wave of buzz. A lot of people have noticed these partnerships.”
The Peak Events staff poured over rosters and statistics, looking to pinpoint prominent players from this year’s teams. The 2022 Karbach Round Rock Classic will feature Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, and Stanford. The Frisco Classic is set to host Texas A&M, Washington State, Wichita State, and Iowa. After narrowing it down to a short list of student-athletes, they began to examine candidates’ social media profiles and engagement, looking for the best fit.
For Round Rock, Robert Moore was the first player targeted. The Arkansas second baseman hit a team-leading 16 home runs last season and is a fan favorite in Fayetteville. Peak Events reached an agreement with Moore for him to post regular social media updates, encouraging fans to buy tickets for the tournament Feb. 25-27 at Dell Diamond.
“Peak Events asked me to do four social media postings on both Instagram and Twitter, spaced out over four weeks,” Moore said. In addition to graphics and other materials, he was provided with a promo code for his followers to receive discounts.
Texas A&M outfielder Logan Britt has a similar arrangement for the Frisco Classic. He has begun posting updates on the tournament to his social media accounts, along with links to purchase tickets. Britt started 35 games for the Aggies last season, hitting .270 with five home runs and a team-leading three triples.
Peak Events also wanted to look beyond the diamond, and team up with the participating schools’ student-athletes from other sports. Unlike baseball players who would be locked into the competition, they would be able to interact with fans and add to their experience at the ballpark.
This led to partnerships with a pair of football student-athletes. Arkansas defensive back Jalen Catalon will take part in festivities at the Karbach Round Rock Classic, while Texas A&M kicker Seth Small agreed to play a role in the Frisco Classic.
Catalon will be in attendance when Arkansas faces Louisiana on Sunday, Feb. 27. He’ll spend several innings on the concourse, meetings Razorback fans and signing autographs. “To be connected with the fans and to make someone’s day is something I really look forward to doing,” Catalon said.
Before that, he’ll throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Catalon played baseball through his junior year of high school. In addition to manning centerfield and shortstop, he was a pitcher for Mansfield Legacy in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He’s planning to toe the rubber for the first pitch. “I’m excited to show people I’ve still got a little bit left in the tank,” Catalon stated.
Small holds A&M’s record for career field goals (71) and points scored (377). He earned legendary status on Oct. 9, 2021, when he hit the game-winning field goal to beat top-ranked Alabama. As part of his deal with Peak, he’s set to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the A&M vs. Wichita State game on Sunday, March 6. Field conditions permitting, he may pivot to something more befitting his position. “I think a first kick would be a lot of fun,” said Small.
He’ll follow that with autograph signings on the concourse. Small has previously enjoyed a NIL deal with Aggieland Outfitters in College Station, where he had opportunities to sell shirts and interact with fans.
“I always love that,” he said. “It’s so cool to hear people’s stories of ‘where were you when the Alabama kick happened?’ And to relive it with those fans. It’ll be fun to do that in Frisco.”
Small had an opportunity to return to the Aggies for a fifth season, but instead declared for the NFL Draft. He’s currently preparing for Texas A&M’s pro day, which will held on March 22.
Since the Frisco Classic’s birth in 2017, Peak Events has strived to assure that every aspect of the event is first class. The philosophy was carried over when the organization added a second tournament, the Karbach Round Rock Classic, in 2020. The Peak Events team is approaching NIL opportunities in the same fashion, and will retain that attitude moving forward.
“I want to continue and expand on what we’re doing,” Wooldridge explained. “We want to do something with all four teams (in each classic). Give each teams’ fans an opportunity to interact and get autographs from somebody who has a potential professional career on tap.”
Back-to-back weekends of college baseball tournaments in Texas begin with the Karbach Round Rock Classic Feb. 25-27 at Dell Diamond, followed by the Frisco Classic March 4-6 at Riders Field.