Play Ball

Fresh off a music tour last fall, I was asked to assemble a team capable of building the first national advertising network at Minor League Baseball stadiums around the country. Now, shortly after Opening Day 2019, all I can say is, “Play Ball!”

This project was one of our most challenging tasks to date. This was due, in large part, to the accelerated timeline and size of the deployment. Like most opportunities at ISM Connect, this project came together extremely quickly. We had to identify national installation companies, onboard project managers, procure a screen manufacturing partner, and work alongside each club to design a deployment that was aesthetically pleasing while also functional to achieve the purpose of delivering advertising content to event attendees.

Each baseball club provided unique challenges for our in-house project managers—no matter if it was custom netting that had been installed to keep birds from living in the rafters of the Scranton RailRiders stadium, or the antique brick pavers utilized around the American Tobacco Campus home of the Durham Bulls—our field operations team needed to pay special attention to every detail because no two stadiums were identical.

Our network will be live at over 30 sites this year, and more than 60 stadiums will have our technology prior to the first pitch of the 2020 season. Therefore, it is important for the entire team at ISM Connect to continually improve our process by conducting exhaustive post-action reviews that identify key areas for enhancement as well as success factors that must be replicated for future deployments.

As I prepare my notes for our internal review, I wanted to share what I believe were three simple keys to our success. I am confident that we will replicate these items in the future:

  •   Every manager knows that communication is crucial to a project, but the need for organized and thoughtful communication was something that we had to get control of early on in this deployment. Like many projects, this one started off by assembling a team and sending out a calendar invite for a weekly check in; however, very early on in the program I noticed that we were making multiple trips back to stadiums because we missed important measurements. The guys were confusing details of one club with another and there wasn’t one document that housed all relevant information. To fix this issue, Davis Eckard, one of our team members, created a Google Sheet entitled: MiLB SOT “Source Of Truth.” This document had 26 tabs; one tab for each baseball club with all deployment details, contacts, and milestone dates. The first tab was a checklist organized by the deployment team that outlines what stage in the deployment process each stadium was at—and also noted a drop-dead date at the end (Bingo Brain— a drop-dead date has to be a real date that is communicated as such, if pads are put into a timeline then deadlines will always be missed because there is a perception that there is more time baked in somewhere). This SOT document was an easy way for us all to look at the entire mission from a high-level perspective and quickly identify roadblocks as well as celebrate milestone achievements. 

  • I have had the privilege of being coached by Coleman Ruiz, a former Navy Officer, who has beat into my head the importance of hosting all calls via VTC (Video Teleconference). By using a VTC rather than a traditional conference call I am able to see each team member and focus on what they are saying. The camera prevents you from being distracted while on mute or working feverishly on other projects when you should be listening to updates from your teammates. As the leader of this program, it also enabled me to get a glimpse into the health and well-being of the team. I could see how tired everyone’s eyes were and therefore, push management to offer more help or resources from our installation partners. Ultimately, being able to see your distributed workforce is invaluable. Now that we could see each other, I held a mandatory one-hour meeting to update and review the SOT every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. This call focused on keeping us in sync and allowed everyone to share learnings across deployment teams. When we had a person out sick, I was easily able to visit a club on their behalf because I had been in the loop since day one and all necessary notes were properly organized in the SOT. 

  • Throughout the last couple months, I found multiple instances where our team was speaking a different language than our installation and hardware partners. It was during the above mentioned VTCs where team members would voice their frustration at a reoccurring issue that just didn’t add up. Rather than discounting the comments from my team or sending an email to the partners letting them know that I was displeased, I jumped on a plane for a 1/2 day synchronization meeting multiple times during this program. It was my sole purpose to learn the root cause of the issue and make sure we were all speaking the same language. We were going so fast that I had to slow down to quickly dissect the issues—and many times it was simply a language barrier where each team was saying the same thing but in a different way. With any new relationship, it takes time to learn the other party and get to know what makes them tick. The relationships with your vendor partners is no different and should be cared for with similar patience. Tone and intent get lost in email, so making time for a face-to-face ensures that everyone is on the same page and rowing in the same direction. 

I am extremely proud of the way our deployment team came together to achieve an extremely difficult task in record time. Moreover, our vendor partners at Peerless-AV, DAVACO, and ComNet Communications were part of this unstoppable team. We are excited to take our key learnings from this first phase of our Minor League Baseball deployments and apply those to high valued venues all across the county.

Keep an eye out for the Allegiant Airlines Network powered by ISM Connect coming to a stadium near you soon!


 To learn more about our MiLB network please visit