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The Wide World of Sports: Theme Nights Enhance Walsh Athletic Events

What's New, 2011-10-17

With 19 teams, Walsh's Mark Heffernan is busy planning a variety of theme nights to increase awareness and build excitement around Walsh home games.  Recent theme nights such as Walsh Whiteout, Dollar Dog Night and Dig for the Cure, have helped to boost attendance and increase the show of support for many of Walsh's hard-working athletes. 
For Heffernan, pairing his background in theater with his love of sports was an easy fit.  Heffernan began his professional career at the Cleveland Play House and for the past two summers has performed at The Beck Center for the Arts, a semi-professional theatre in Lakewood, with lead roles in The Producers and Hairspray.  His love for creating "the show" surrounding an athletic event began with his prior professional experience that included two tenures with the Cleveland Cavaliers (1989-1995/1999-2003) as Director of Game Day Entertainment and Video Production.  As Manager of Athletic Affairs at Walsh, Heffernan's responsibilities include creating theme nights and event promotions to help bolster attendance at Walsh athletic events. 
With Walsh's mission of service in mind, Heffernan often seeks out a theme night that will also educate or support a cause such as cancer awareness.  As a part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the Walsh Volleyball team sold one-dollar pink cups during lunch.  Fans were asked to throw their loose change in the cups during the month and on Oct. 25, when the Cavs took on Cedarville, bring the pink cups to the game to donate their change for cancer research and receive a free bottled drink at the concession stand. 
Heffernan believes that while most of the excitement is happening on the court or field, turning each home game into an "event" helps to draw sports fans and non-sports fans alike. "Theme nights and extra incentives like giveaways help to attract people who might not normally be interested to come out to our games and really enjoy themselves, and maybe, just maybe, come back to see us again," said Heffernan.  "I want every fan in attendance to have a good time and help energize our team to a win.  A good home crowd cheering on the CAVS is worth at least one basket or goal."