I recently published a Google virtual tour of the Kane County Cougars’ ballpark in Geneva, Illinois. This Google tour is believed to be the first of its kind in Minor League Baseball, so I thought I would share some thoughts about it, as I believe the technology will be of great interest to other teams.
I had worked for the Cougars during college, in the early years of the franchise. Many years later, I now own a business which creates 360-degree Google virtual tours of businesses in the Naperville and Aurora area. The tours are hosted on Google Maps, and appear as a “See Inside” preview on Google Search results and +Local pages. I knew that the Cubs-affiliate Cougars are very popular throughout the Fox Valley, and that they have a beautiful ballpark. So I thought, why not use Google’s cutting-edge “Street View” technology to showcase it to fans?
I presented the idea to the Cougars in late August, and they were enthusiastic. The virtual tour would showcase the ballpark 365 days per year on Google properties, and it would be a valuable resource for both fans and team alike. When fans bought tickets, they could sample views from around the stadium—even the lawn area or the “Leinie Lodge” right field deck. The Cougars had added an impressive Upper Deck since my stint with the team, and we were excited to show it in the tour. We would include the Super Suite, both party decks, and two standard suites in the tour. Fans could see the spectacular views from the balconies. At field level, fans could take a “virtual” trip around the bases on a picture-perfect day.
|Gate 3 Entrance||http://goo.gl/maps/S49g0|
|Leine Lodge Party Deck||http://goo.gl/maps/bUqMO|
|Cougars Den Souvenir Shop||http://goo.gl/maps/ju7uG|
|Starting Field View||http://goo.gl/maps/mOj1Y|
|R Concourse 1st Base View||http://goo.gl/maps/FuPvK|
|L Concourse Field View||http://goo.gl/maps/YXmQr|
|LF Party Deck||http://goo.gl/maps/GQJeh|
|LF Small Suite||http://goo.gl/maps/pYgg0|
|RF Small Suite||http://goo.gl/maps/tqehW|
|RF Party Deck||http://goo.gl/maps/JeigY|
|Front Office/Upper Deck Atrium||http://goo.gl/maps/NAWk4|
The Cougars gave me the green light, and after some planning I began shooting the ballpark. We had an ideal window just after the season ended, where the ballpark was available and the weather was great. After a few trips to the ballpark, I had gathered all the panoramic imagery for the tour. In the final stage, I connected all the panos to create a seamless virtual tour of the ballpark. It all came together nicely, and I was thrilled to publish it and see it live on Google. The Cougars were thrilled, too.
I think the moment is right for Google’s virtual tours. Using HDR photography, the quality is amazing. They engage the fans with interactive content on Google properties, and can be embedded on the team’s website and Facebook page. They look fantastic on PC’s, smartphones and tablets. Sales staff can keep a spreadsheet with links to various locations in the tour, and simply share a link to show a 360-degree view of section, suite or party deck. It’s a tremendous marketing resource. And with some of the best views in all of sports, a baseball park makes a wonderful subject for a Google tour.
Brad Lawrence is a Google Trusted Photographer for Fox Virtual Tours, a leading provider of Google Business Photos 360° virtual tours in Naperville, Aurora and the surrounding Fox Valley.