Fantasy football is one of my current favorites because the people who are into it… are REALLY into it! Some play in several leagues, some just play in one hardcore league with a lot of cash in the pot for the season winner.

Here lies a great opportunity for restaurants, bars, and even retailers to cash in on this consumer trend for several reasons.

1 – If you’re a restaurant or a bar that caters to sports fans, you’re a great option for a host venue!
No messy cleanup, no need to worry about bringing a cooler of having enough space in the host’s fridge… a restaurant or bar makes it a no-brainer for draft party attendees to show up, have fun, and then head home. This option requires the least effort on the part of the attendee or fantasy league commissioner. When you’re marketing primarily to men… this is a major selling point, in my humble opinion.

2 – If you’re a restaurant or a bar that offers carryout or catering orders for draft party favorites like wings, bar-b-q, etc., you’re a great option for party attendees who don’t cook!
Not all leagues are going to opt for the option to host their party at your bar or restaurant… and that’s ok, just make sure they still have the opportunity to spend money with you! My other half’s league had their party in our home last night and of the 10+ attendees, only three of us (that I was aware of) cooked their offerings at home prior to the party. (Truth be told, even though I did cook most of what we offered at home, I did send Nick out to our neighborhood Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q(R) for bar-b-q, sweet tea, and hush-puppies… “because it’s just not a tailgate without the bar-b-q”!)

3 – If you’re a retailer – what draft party supplies can you carry or special order for your customers leading up to the big event?
Nick ordered his team’s draft board and supplies (stickers, rosters, etc.) online, but I’m sure I could have convinced him to Shop Local had someone been touting their merchandise offerings for draft party must-haves to local leagues. But alas, I’m not aware of any local retailers targeting this niche market.

4 – Work the concept for a different market!
When my gal pal Denise and I were hanging out yesterday, she mentioned that a local radio show host (Kentucky Kristin on G105) had been talking on-air about the Emmy’s Draft Party that she and her girlfriends had recently had a lot of fun participating in. The girls created their event around pairing Hollywood’s hottest with designers they were likely to be wearing. During the red carpet premiere, attendees scored points for correctly pairing Emmy attendee with the correct designer they were wearing! How fun? If you’re a bar or trendy restaurant, this sounds like a great opportunity to upsell girly cocktails, show the celebrity-studded event on your televisions, and attract vendors and sponsors wanting to target this in-demand niche with great giveaways, swag bags, and more.

So, how are you planning to capitalize on this sports marketing trend next year?

Can’t wait ’til next year? Target teams who have already drafted (pre-season games end this week) to come in and see how their teams shape up on a weekly basis in your bar or restaurant! The good news is that you haven’t completely missed your opportunity as this is an on-going promotion that gets more exciting by the week for fantasy league faithfuls.

You can read more about how national chains like Buffalo Wild Wings (and local restaurants like Garner’s Cleveland Draft House) are putting this trend to work for their businesses from the News & Observer online at http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/09/04/663556/chains-score-with-fantasy-football.html.