Online Experience Drives Tourney Participation At Delaware Sports Complex
Near the shores of Rehoboth Beach, Del., stands a premier destination for traveling youth baseball and softball teams. The 95-acre facility at Sports at the Beach features 16 fields, 30 batting cages and dormitory accommodations for visiting teams. From March to November, ball clubs from all over the East Coast descend upon its bluegrass-sod fields to participate in weekend and week-long tournaments.
The complex’s website, sportsatthebeach.com, serves as the digital platform for every stage of the Sports at the Beach experience. From recruiting teams, managing registrations and arranging tournament pairings to publishing bracket updates and broadcasting a LiveStream of key tournament games, the Sports at the Beach site connects players, parents and coaches with up-to-the-minute tournament details. Since some tournaments can attract as many as 100 teams in a weekend, visitors jam the complex’s wifi access to stay up to date on pairings and schedules.
Digital Capabilities Power Growth of Site and Registered Members
Sports at the Beach implemented Drupal, the open source content management system, in 2012, taking advantage of available e-commerce and event registration modules to manage team registrations and e-commerce payments. Moving to the open digital publishing platform also helped the site become scalable and always accessible during peak-traffic periods during the complex’s marquee tournaments, often held during holiday weekends.
“One of the driving reasons we switched to Drupal was that the previous proprietary platform couldn't sustain the traffic spikes they were receiving,” said Shaun Tyndall, founder of the design and web development agency Inclind. Sports at the Beach has worked with Inclind since 2003. Teams awaiting their next matchup can sightsee and explore Rehoboth Beach with their families knowing they’ll be able to stay informed on which teams advance and when they’ll play next. The site serves as many as 100,000 page views during a tournament, and Inclind implements cloud hosting to ensure the site’s performance stays consistent. “We’re delivering real-time information within the website and throughout every tournament, making it convenient so parents and players can enjoy themselves at the beach in between games.”
The site also serves as a media hub, providing a permanent archive for past tournaments; game data for more than 40,000 games is available online. The site’s infrastructure also serves the CRM needs for Sports at the Beach, including email and list management for more than 30,000 unique users, reporting and accounting functions. Both the intranet and extranet sites manage and maintain communication, billing and payments with coaches as well as team registrations and scheduling.
Easily Extending to Mobile
Sports at the Beach unveiled a new, responsive design for its site late in 2012. With nearly 40% of visitors coming from mobile devices, the Inclind team wanted to create an optimal experience for parents and coaches who traveled to Rehoboth Beach with tablets in hand. While a desktop view of the site offers easy access to tournament registration, photo slideshows from recent tournaments, and links for local hotel accommodations, the tablet and mobile views prominently presents current tournament schedules and most-recent results. Also new for 2013 are the ranking, stats and tournament bracket pages, all featuring responsive content that was mobile friendly and ready to print.
“We spent a lot of time analyzing the experience,” Tyndall said. “We had a lot of metrics on how people were using the site, so we tried to make good decisions on where to focus our development time.”
The Sports at the Beach 2013 tournament schedule is well underway. Check out the site and let me know what you think in the comments section.