In the Canadian Football League, one team stands out for its passionate, devoted, watermelon hat wearing fan base: the Saskatchewan Roughriders. For decades the Riders have continued to cultivate and brand a strong brand community that transcends the boundaries of sport fandom.
From their roots in the heart of Saskatchewan to their community involvement and innovative branding strategies, the Roughriders have set a shining example of how a sports team can create an enduring and enthusiastic following.
Here’s how they have become a leading example for other sports teams in Canada.
The Regina Rugby Club was the original starting place for organized football in Saskatchewan, and began on September 6th, 1910. In 1924, the team changed its name from the Regina Rugby Club to the Regina Roughriders and there have been two “theories” on where the name “Roughriders” came from.
One theory believes it was because members of the North West Mounted Police were called “Roughriders” because they broke the wild horses used by the force.
A second theory says there was a Canadian contingent that fought with Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt’s troops became known as the “Roughriders”.
In 1948, both the Moose Jaw and Saskatoon football clubs folded, leaving Regina as the only football team in Saskatchewan. The Regina Roughriders became a provincially owned and operated club — and became the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
A Sea of Green and White Fans
At the core of the Roughriders' success in building a strong brand community is a strong fan base. Known for their unwavering support, the fans have earned the team the title of "Rider Nation." The spirit of “Rider Nation” is passed down from generation to generation, and fans of all ages can be seen attending Rider games. In addition, it is not uncommon to find a sea of fans sporting Rider jerseys across the province on game days. The Roughriders' deep connection with Saskatchewan's identity and culture has fuelled the passion that brings fans together from all corners of the province.
One of the key reasons behind the Roughriders' strong brand community is their active involvement in the local community. The team consistently takes part in outreach programs, charity events, and community initiatives, demonstrating their commitment to giving back. For example, they organize youth football camps, support local charities, and participate in community clean-up efforts. The team also has a “13th Fan of Honour” award that recognizes fans who truly embody what it means to be a member of Rider Nation. Each year one fan is chosen based on not only their passion and devotion for the Roughriders', but also by their contributions they have made to the community.
The Roughriders' have successfully created an environment where fans of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences feel welcomed and embraced. For example, to kick off Pride month and Indigenous History Month, the Roughriders' launched a new logo as a token of their support. The logo displayed a medicine wheel with four colours that are significant in the Indigenous culture and also incorporated colours of the Pride flag.
Exceptional Game-Day Experience
For the Riders, a game day isn't just about football—it's an experience like no other. The team has mastered the art of creating an electrifying atmosphere at Mosaic Stadium, where fans come together to celebrate their team. For example, the team hosts a tailgate-style “Coors Light Party in the Park”, which is the ultimate spot for pre-game fun for fans of all ages. During the game you will find engaging halftime shows and interactive fan activities that all contribute to making each game day unforgettable. Each and every Rider game day is fully committed to strengthening Rider Nation and ensuring each and every fan feels more emotionally connected to the team.
The Roughriders' proudly honour their history and legacy by involving former players and alumni in various events. In fact, the network is composed of alumni from as far back as the 1950’s! These legends are celebrated, and their contributions are remembered, fostering a strong sense of continuity between past and present players and fans. This commitment to the team's heritage reinforces the feeling of belonging within the community.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have achieved something extraordinary—the creation of a strong brand community that has been passed down from generation to generation. Through their passionate fan base, community involvement, inclusive branding, exceptional game-day experiences, and alumni involvement, they are a prime example of a team that is dedicated to serving their community. The Roughriders' unwavering connection with their fans and the community has elevated them from just a sports team to a cherished one of the most beloved brands in all of Saskatchewan —a testament to the power of building a strong brand community.
As the Saskatchewan Roughriders continue to fortify their bond with Rider Nation, creating a brand community that's cherished across generations, MemoryKPR emerges as a pivotal tool in this journey. It offers an innovative way to capture and preserve the team's legacy and fan experiences. By leveraging MemoryKPR, teams can create an interactive digital archive of their rich history, memorable games, and community events, further deepening the connection with their fans. This not only strengthens the team's brand but also opens new avenues for business growth and fan engagement, ensuring that the legacy of the team is not just remembered, but also actively relived and cherished by generations to come.
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