Opening day has arrived for all 30 Major League Baseball teams across the great land of ours. Say what you want about pro sports, but stadiums and structures that play host to sporting events have a huge impact when it comes to branding and corporate sponsorships. That’s the case in the United States and around the world.
Since San Diego is home for Oster and Associates, let’s take a quick overview of arguably one of the finest baseball stadiums in the world – Petco Park. Take notice that it’s not called Padres Park or San Diego Stadium. That’s because a local company, Petco, felt strongly enough about getting its name attached to a venue that would be in the national spotlight at least 81 times per year (more in a good season). Petco decided that having its brand associated with a beautiful stadium structure that had prime location in downtown San Diego in prominent sight of conventioneers and millions of annual visitors, plus local residents who live, work and play just steps away.
The relationship has been a successful one, even if the product playing on the diamond itself hasn’t.
Petco Park opened as home to the San Diego Padres in 2004. Prior to its creation, the area where the stadium is located in downtown had been home to mostly warehouses and seedy activities. Today, the bustling Gaslamp Quarter and evolving East Village neighborhood is home to businesses, restaurants, hotels, shopping and thousands of new residents. Skyscrapers have pushed San Diego’s skyline upward as condos and apartments (including multiple projects under construction or soon-to-be) now surround the spacious Petco Park footprint.
Say the name Petco Park in town and people know what you’re talking about. They’ve associated the Petco name, a national consumer pet supply store, with San Diego and the Padres franchise for more than a decade now. Petco Park means something locally and nationally, whether you strike up a conversation with visitors in town or travel around the country. There’s now brand equity for Petco, the Padres and the city of San Diego.
Baseball has a long list of examples with places like Coors Field, Miller Park, Busch Stadium, Chase Field, Citi Field, Citizens Bank Park, Comerica Park, PNC Park, Minute Maid Park, Tropicana Field, AT&T Park, U.S. Cellular Field, Target Field, Safeco Field, Progressive Field and Rogers Centre. I think you get the pattern.
These corporations, many of them global, believe it makes good business sense to place their names and brands on sports facilities. The dollar value of these deals certainly has an impact on a number of levels. Sports teams get revenue that, in theory, is used to improve the on-field product, leading to competitive success. Cities view these new stadiums as a catalyst for overall urban renewal. (Of course the counter argument to all of this is how much money is too much when it comes to spending public dollars on sports facilities)?
Customers of these companies are reminded on an ongoing basis of the financial institutions they bank at, the beverages they drink, the insurance policies they take out, the cell phone carriers they sign up with or the stores they shop at. Branding and name identification are big business for big businesses. That’s why most teams and cities have taken full advantage of the desire for companies to have their names affiliated with sports teams.
Now that baseball season is here in San Diego, I can’t wait to head out to Petco Park. Win or lose, I say, “Let’s play ball!”