Being Fans First Created a Team Bigger Than Baseball
The classic line from Field of Dreams is, if you build it, they will come. In Savannah, Georgia, a more appropriate baseball saying might be, if you make it fun, they will come.
Jesse Cole, Owner of the Savannah Bananas, is truly in a league of his own. Cole is a trailblazer and an absolute game-changer when it comes to the sport of baseball. His dreamchild, The Savannah Bananas, made believers out of naysayers and transformed a community to become evangelists for this new version of America’s pastime.
They say there’s no cryin’ in baseball, but there are no rules governing fun. And if there were, it’s safe to say Cole and his team would break them. The Savannah Bananas are an incredible story; a small-time community baseball team with national appeal. In just a few short years, they’ve captivated fans across the country with their original take on the sport, with fun front and center of the action.
Game Changers host Katie Steinberg caught up with Jess Cole to learn more about the Bananas’ story and the branding secrets that set this ball club apart from all others. From the origin of the club’s unique name to its transformation from traditional baseball to its ‘fun rules’ Banana Ball and all the crazy marketing providing one of the most fantastic experiences in all of sport, Steinberg, and Cole cover a lot of ground.
The ethos of fun that drives all the decisions around building this successful brand.
“We put ourselves in our customer’s shoes,” Cole said. “I learned this from Walt Disney; he’s my biggest mentor. He was sitting at a park bench. Every Saturday was his day with his daughters, and he’s watching them on a carousel at Griffith Park, and he said, ‘I wish there were a place that adults and kids could have fun together.’”
Cole used the same logic that created Disneyland to create his version of baseball to make the game fun for fans, young and old.
Jesse Cole is the founder of Fans First Entertainment, which owns and operates the Savannah Bananas. The Bananas have welcomed more than one million fans to their ballpark, and have been featured on MSNBC, CBS Sunday Morning, Access Hollywood, HBO Real Sports, CNN, and ESPN. Cole is the author of Fans First & Find Your Yellow Tux.
The Savannah Bananas play their rivals, The Party Animals throughout a fun, fan-focused baseball season at Savanah’s Grayson Stadium and locations throughout the country during their upcoming 2023 Banana Ball World Tour. Tickets are available at thesavannahbananas.com.