What's in store for the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2021-2022 season? Plenty, according to Elizabeth Blackburn, the Bengals' director of strategy and engagement.
Blackburn participated in a Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") Monday to highlight what fans can expect both on and off the field at Paul Brown Stadium. The event came on the heels of the Bengals' new "Rule the Jungle" campaign, which also was unveiled Monday. In a post on bengals.com, Blackburn wrote that the team is increasing its game-day activities and spectacle, including adding an ornate throne and an energetic "Stripes Squad" team to the mix.
"I am highly motivated to put Cincinnati on the map. We live in a great city with amazing people and extremely passionate fans. I want our team to be one more thing that elevates the Midwest to a place people respect," Blackburn told Reddit users. "Also I grew up a fan and I want to add energy to the gameday experience that gives us a louder, bigger homefield advantage."
Here are the biggest things we learned from Blackburn during her AMA on Reddit:
How is the fan experience changing for the upcoming season?
Blackburn: "First, WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE!! So excited to have you on-board! For this year, we are adding a new pregame tradition called Ruler of The Jungle where a prominent Bengals personality/fan will lead the crowd in the Who Dey chant. In addition to that, we have made several gameday upgrades including new LED lights, new runout decorations for player introductions, and enhanced fireworks. All of this light & sound will add energy to make gameday more engaging."
What is the Bengals' Stripes Squad?
Blackburn: "It's our new street team / hype team. We had a tryout a few weeks ago and found some energetic Bengals fans to help us raise excitement for the 2021 season. They are awesome! Expect to see them out in the community stopping by bars in the Banks etc. this August during Training Camp. They’ll also visit tailgates before home games as well as help lead some of our new traditions & cheers inside Paul Brown Stadium."
Will the forever-treasured dog-and-monkey halftime event ever return?
Blackburn: "First off, I was at that game & wow that was one for the ages. Hoping to make it on SportsCenter’s top-10 for other reasons this fall. For halftimes this year, due to Covid restrictions, we will be unable to have much on-field entertainment. Instead we’ll focus on showing games on Redzone and fantasy updates. One game that will have a prominent halftime presentation is our Sept. 30 game against Jacksonville when we will hold our Ring of Honor induction ceremony."
Could Bengals players plan local camps to boost fan excitement and engagement?
Blackburn: "As we come out of Covid and have more in-person fan events, expect us to venture out into more parts of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana communities."
Will Bengals fans get to sit on the throne?
Blackburn: "So glad you like the throne! We like it so much that we made a second — one will be on the stage and used for our Ruler of The Jungle ceremony. That one is actually a replica of the one that we used for New Stripes. So to answer your question, YES! We are looking for a location where we can place the original concrete throne and it will be available for fans to take pictures in… stay tuned."
How can fans get Bengals autographs in the COVID era?
Blackburn: "At our Back Together Saturday event on July 31st at the stadium we will be raffling off several autographed items to make up for there being no autograph sessions this year. Hope to see you there! Who Dey!"
Will Chad Johnson continue to hype the Bengals?
Blackburn: "Working with Chad on the uniform launch was so fun! He has been a great ambassador for the team. Beyond his appearance in New Stripes we have more content for gameday that we produced while he was in town. We’ll continue to work with Chad in the future — just not as our team nutritionist :) too many Big Macs..."
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