Play Ball: Building Team Spirit and Morale Through Inspiring Visual Communications

2014 September Whitepaper

As summer starts to cool off, the sports season is beginning to heat up. Baseball fans, who have enjoyed many a humid evening lingering at the ball field, rooting for their home team, are gearing up to see if their favorite teams make it into the upcoming World Series. In a few short weeks, Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings will be reserved for watching oversized grown men tackle each other in what is arguably America’s favorite sport: football. And kids who have been honing their skills at sports camps all summer are eager to show their progress and hit the turf, gym or field with their school or recreational league teammates. 

With so much energy devoted to cheering on a favorite team or participating in its success, coaches, parents and team owners alike are constantly seeking techniques that enable players and teams to function at their best. Moreover, it is no secret that professional sports are big business. Savvy sports franchises are wisely recognizing that improving the fan experience also results in increased attendance, which translates to increased revenues. 

So how can team managers and owners enhance their athletes’ success on the playing field, their fans’ enjoyment of the game and their bottom line? One answer comes from what may be an unlikely source: studies show that improving the physical appearance of a team’s sports complex and training facility can both improve player performance and markedly increase attendance. 

Cashing In on the “Novelty Effect”

The most dramatic examples of increased ticket sales come from instances in which teams unveil an entirely new facility. Researchers dub it the “novelty effect”—ticket sales at a new facility can increase by as much as 62% in the first five seasons that a team plays in its new home.1 Even renovations of existing facilities can benefit from the novelty effect. In 2014, the University of Richmond men’s basketball team saw its highest attendance numbers in more than 15 years following a $17 million investment in new seats, a new court and design, entertainment platforms, new video board games and LED lighting. 2 Not only that, recent studies have linked inspiring training environments that encourage cognitive brain development—not just physical development--with improved athletic performance. 3

Below are two examples of sports teams that have invested in their facilities with winning results. The Pittsburg Pirates improved the overall fan experience by renovating their Legacy Square. And the Miami Dolphins’ inspiring team graphics emblazoned throughout the athlete training facility has created a positive atmosphere that serves as a source of motivation.

Fan-Facing Interiors: Pittsburgh Pirates Case Study

What started as a makeover of the Budweiser Bowtie Bar in the Pittsburgh Pirates PNC Park ended with a large-scale graphics renovation to Legacy Square, another area in the park designed to honor the past achievements of the organization and to recognize notable former Negro League players.

To help Legacy Square get the attention it deserves, the Pirates reached out to Image360 - Middle River, MD to complete the extensive renovations and make the overall space more engaging for fans. The renovation included replacing the title sponsor sign as well as elements intended to provide the “wow” factor the Pirates organization wanted. For instance, the Image360 - Middle River, MD team helped restore old information kiosks used to tell the stories of the Negro League Players with a weather-proof, graffiti-resistant, anti-scratch material called Alumicolor. They also developed an eye-catching, 16-foot timeline display for the Legacy Theatre, an indoor theater that shows videos and images to present the team’s history. Finally, a large dimensional sign was mounted above the exterior entrance of the theatre, along with an illuminated sign and various window graphics and panels.

The end result is a display that commands far more attention and respect for the deserving Legacy Square, and earned praise from the Pirates organization. According to Image360 - Middle River, MD owner, “I was very proud of my team of consummate professionals after completing this project. All of the visual communications solutions Image360 - Middle River, MD provided were met with continuous praise from all levels within the Pirates organization.”

Athlete-Facing Interiors: Miami Dolphins Case Study

Whether an athlete is a professional or an occasional recreational league player, every athlete benefits from motivation. And when that motivation is branded across the walls throughout the locker room and all the way out to the playing field, those messages have a powerful impact on the training atmosphere and athlete morale.

The Miami Dolphins certainly recognized this when they installed a suite of motivational images and quotes throughout the Dolphins’ training facility. Image360 - Middle River, MD was hired to create and install dimensional lettering of inspirational quotes from Miami Dolphins leadership, overlaid on the wall murals of some of the team’s biggest stars.

Image360 - Middle River, MD delivered a trio of dynamic graphic solutions, including:


  • Custom brushed aluminum lettering installed over existing wall graphics to create a motivational montage of images of athletes combined with powerful quotes from their leaders and coaches. These statements include powerful messages such as, “We will outhit you, outplay you and outthink you” and “Big Games Require Big Plays.” 
  • Application of a brushed aluminum team logo and additional quote onto football pigskin leather to create a stunning coach’s wall. 
  • Dramatic 36” high, 3” deep, polished stainless steel letters accented in Dolphins’ orange to powerfully communicate the team’s motto.

It’s clear from the statistics and case studies above that creating an environment that motivates has an important impact on a team’s culture. Motivation is defined as the “energization, direction, and regulation of one’s behavior over time.”4 An athlete’s personal motivation is internally regulated, yet can be influenced by the people and stimuli in his or her environment.

Team owners, coaches and parents can spark loyalty from their fans, motivation in their favorite athletes and attendance at events by creating user-friendly sports complexes and inspiring team training facilities.

To download a .pdf of this case study please fill out the form to the right and a copy will be emailed to you.


Read More


  1. http://www.umbc.edu/economics/wpapers/wp_03_101.pdf 
  2. http://thecollegianur.com/2014/04/03/robins-center-renovations-spark-spirit/43491/ 
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/15/become-better-athlete-train-brain_n_4590539.html 
  4. http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1089&context=etd

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