SBJ/May 10 - 16, 2004/Facilities

HKS targets sponsors for Camden

The Baltimore Orioles hired HKS to research new sponsorship opportunities for Camden Yards, which would be incorporated into ballpark upgrades the Dallas firm may design after the study.

HKS formed a partnership with Omnicom Group and its ad agencies to study the possibility of creating more sponsored areas at the facility, said Joe Foss, the Orioles’ vice chairman and COO. He said, for example, there could be naming-rights sponsors for the main concourse or a new children’s play area.

“HKS came to us with the idea,” Foss said. “These would be very targeted sponsorship opportunities. Whether it evolves or not remains to be seen.”

Revenue generated from those sponsorships would be used to upgrade the concourses and increase concession and advertising dollars, he said.

Veteran sports marketer E.J. Narcise, a partner and co-founder of Team Services in Bethesda, Md., said the Orioles have talked for years about creating a sponsorship/retail component.

“The biggest challenge they have is not the building, but their poor performance on the field,” he said. “They’ve driven folks away, and they weren’t prepared to deal with Cal Ripken’s exodus.”

Bryan Trubey, principal architect for HKS, said the firm will study locations throughout the ballpark, which set the standard for new MLB venues when it opened 13 seasons ago.

The goal is to enhance the Orioles’ brand at Camden Yards beyond its image as the nation’s first retro-feel facility, according to Trubey. HOK Sport designed the stadium.

“We want to make the property in the new millennium as state-of-the-art as when it first opened,” Trubey said. “In the ballpark business, the environment has moved beyond Camden Yards.”

Trubey envisions a continuing process to upgrade Camden Yards with an annual capital improvement program similar to what HKS has done for the past four years at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.

The White Sox are seeking a sponsor for the stadium’s two-tiered Fan Deck in center field. HKS designed the structure, which opened in 2003.

“We want to do something new and exciting every year for Camden Yards,” Trubey said. “The sense of the building then becomes richer over time, season after season. It’s the kind of thing that will be an evolving story.”

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