SBJ/August 25 - 31, 2003/Facilities

Hagerstown makes a $95 naming deal

The Class A Hagerstown (Md.) Suns sold naming rights to their ballfield — $95 for a one-week deal.

The promo featured registration at the ballpark for a free business Web site giveaway from rights buyer SkilTech, a Web design firm whose 21 minor league baseball clients include the Suns. Temporary banners proclaimed "SkilTech Field at Memorial Stadium."

For one week, the Class A Suns played on SkilTech Field at Memorial Stadium.
SkilTech, based in Oakton, Md., didn't waste any naming-rights cash on open dates. The Suns were scheduled to play at home every day during the period covered by the deal, Aug. 18-24.

Kurt Landes, GM of the South Atlantic League team, and SkilTech President John Skilton said they hope to build brand name recognition for both parties.

The Suns issued a news release Aug. 15 on "SkilTech Field," which later ran on The Associated Press, Landes said. Initial coverage included reports in the Philadelphia Daily News and the San Francisco Chronicle (the Suns are an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants).

Both officials said the dollar amount "poked fun" at the Philadelphia Phillies' $95 million title sponsorship with Citizens Bank for their new ballpark opening in 2004. Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown seats 4,000 and opened in 1930.

Landes said he would "most definitely" consider pursuing other naming-rights deals, for substantially more money. "I can tell you we don't plan to do it consistently for $95 a week," he said.

Skilton's brainstorm led to the spoof. "I thought wouldn't it be nice to have that kind of [multiple millions] to throw at somebody. I knew some minor league teams would go for this and the Suns were responsive. I figured for a week, $95 ought to be about right," he said.

As Landes stated in the release, "I suspect it will be confusing at first, but I'm certain people will get used to it — but by the time they get used to it, the name will have already changed back."

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Baseball, Philadelphia Phillies

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