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Economy Hits White Sox' Sponsorships

We've often referenced the economy when talking about the upcoming baseball season, but we haven't really had any specifics cite. Today we have two separate articles filled with specifics.

First, the LA Times writes about sponsorships at the Sox new spring training facility, a move which cost the Sox a $5MM buyout to relocate from Tucson.

The Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, who share the facility, were so excited about their new home's potential as a revenue producer that they ignored the proven spring training model of seeking local advertisers and focused their efforts on finding national sponsors.

The concept -- called "The Starting 9" -- was designed to allow nine major sponsors paying $200,000 annually to secure the naming rights for different parts of the facility.

And to make those packages even more attractive, opportunities for fantasy camps or corporate outings were included.

So far, the sales force is 0 for nine in selling them.

Second, we have an interview with White Sox VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Brooks Boyer, concentrating on how the economy may effect the Sox partnerships, payroll and ticket prices.

[Update by The Cheat, 02/14/09 12:00 AM CST]: Oh, and ticket sales for the new spring training facility are "less than we hoped." When you are talking about being smarter and showing these partners what you have, does that involve including incentives, of sorts?

Boyer: It's not about cutting the price. It really isn't. It's about being smarter and making every single dollar work a little bit harder that they are spending. We have to try to put partners together and create an atmosphere of creativity, rather than, "Here's our standard operating procedure." We have to be a little more creative, like every team has to be. You mentioned that you've already lost two corporate partners for the season.

Boyer: For this season, we had one partner who said it's our sign or 10 jobs. We have to understand that. Hopefully, that partner will be back when that comes around again. What's advertising revenue like for the team at this point?

Boyer: I anticipate sponsorships being down anywhere between 10 to 15 percent, as I sit here [at the start of February], with two months to go before we start. But you just never know. Everyone we've talked to, the lowest we've heard, with the exception of one club, is 10 percent down.