By Natalie Russell
If basketball star Boris Bakovic has his way with his opponents this year, Rams fans will be leaving the gym satisfied and with full stomachs.
Ryerson’s Sports and Recreation department has introduced a number of initiatives in hopes of raising awareness surrounding the school’s sports teams — both on campus and beyond.
One of those new promotions will give fans a coupon for a free appetizer from Swiss Chalet if Bakovic scores 20 points and grabs 12 rebounds in a game. He completed the feat a total of three times last year, but only once at a home game.
The program’s communications co-ordinator Jim McLarty says that several students and staff visited businesses in the Ryerson community over the summer in search of support. The school’s efforts earned a number of gift certificates and product samples.
“A lot of that will be used for our half-time contests, draws and giveaways for fans,” McLarty said. The department was also able to secure banner advertisements for the Kerr Hall Gym from local eateries like Spring Rolls and Sandwich’d.
The Bakovic promotion, which is a similar to another one for women’s basketball players Kaitlyn and Lindsay Taylor, will be on a trial period for the year.
But if fans and sponsors react well to the basketball deal, modelled after similar offers given by the Toronto Blue Jays and the Raptors, McLarty says the program will expand to more players in upcoming years.
But he also wants to go beyond the community’s food courts.
“We’re trying to start a student fan club called the Rams Revolution,” explained McLarty. Students will receive a t-shirt and blow horn after paying the $7 membership fee.
Members will earn points by attending Rams games, and qualify for prizes based on their scores.
For McLarty, there is no better place to build a local support base than on campus itself. Beginning on Oct. 18, the Rams will kick off a residence challenge where residence floors can win prizes and a food party through attendance and participation.
Second-year information technology management student Brenna Charles says she didn’t even know where and when sports games were held last year. She thinks that the residence challenge will help increase attendance at on-campus games, but not for teams where students need to travel to get to the field or arena.
“There was never any mention or promotion of sports, except for a few flyers posted around,” Charles said of her first year at Ryerson.
Another project developed by the department this year, called Operation: United Rams, will try to get more varsity athletes to support the school’s other teams. Based on last year’s games, Ryerson’s figure skating team seem to be the early favourites to win the cash prize.
McLarty says the trial run of these promotions isn’t expected to bring any revenue.
“We have to establish that our events are worthwhile for these companies to get involved in,” McLarty said. If the promotions do take off, there is a chance the school will be able to turn a profit on them down the line.
Two Toronto FC tickets will be given out to mark the first round of the promotions on Sept. 22 when the men’s and women’s soccer teams play Trent University.