Targeting millennials with halftime shows is music to Edmonton Eskimos' ears

The Edmonton Eskimos are using halftime musical performances to lure millennials to more games.

The Arkells, Sean Paul, Brett Kissel and DNCE will have all performed at Eskimo games by the end of the season

Sean Paul performs at halftime of an Edmonton Eskimos game on July 28. (Esks.com)

The Edmonton Eskimos are using their halftime shows to get young fans into the stadium and hopefully turn them into diehard football fans.

Reggaeton rapper Sean Paul performed on July 28. DNCE, Joe Jonas's pop group, will perform next Friday, followed by The Arkells and Brett Kissel before the season ends.

Karleigh Switzer, 21, attended a couple of Eskimos games before, using her mom's season tickets. But for next weekend's home game, the 21-year-old bought her own ticket to see DNCE perform at halftime.

"When you get the option to see a 15-minute concert of a band that you like and all you really have to do is buy a football ticket, you get a package like a two-in-one," Switzer said.

That's exactly what the Eskimos want to hear. Their fan base has always been an older crowd, and this year they're trying to build on that.

Sean Paul performs in front of Edmonton Eskimo fans at Commonwealth stadium on July 28. (Esks.com)

Competing with summer festivals

Esks vice-president of marketing Allan Watt said the bands the team picks to perform at the half aren't picked at random.

It's to target millennials and compete with summer festivals, Watt said.

"People who might be willing to sample our product, we can get them here to say this is pretty good and we're having a great time, and we'd like to come back again. And it's working," he said.

With a nearly 55,000-person capacity at Commonwealth Stadium, the team is looking to gain more season-ticket buyers.

Daniel Mason, professor of sport management at the University of Alberta, thinks it's a wise move. He said sports that might be considered 'second tier' but have a large venue capacity have to be more creative to bring in new fans.

"There are people who wouldn't risk going to an Oilers game because of the cost, and not having a good experience because they're not familiar with the sport," Mason said.

"But with the CFL, it's still very affordable compared to the National Hockey League. So it's something people might be willing to take a chance on, especially if they can see another form of entertainment there like a band that they already have familiarity with."

On top of the music, the team is also luring in fans with a 7-0 record this season and a first-place overall ranking in the league.

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