SBJ/August 28 - September 3, 2006/This Weeks News

Rays first in MLB to sell presenting Web sponsorship

The Rays’ site gets signs of the Times.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays last week became the first MLB team to sell a presenting sponsorship to its Web site by signing a four-year agreement with the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

As part of a broad agreement that expands an existing sponsorship between the two, the Times will gain a constant presence at the home page and rotating ad displays in other areas of the site. The Times also will rebrand the Beach, a left field section of Tropicana Field featuring patios and tropical décor.

Industry sources pegged the deal, which carries options beyond the four-year term, at $6 million in total.

Earlier this year, MLB Advanced Media presented a sales template for Web site presenting sponsorships. The Devil Rays, under owner Stuart Sternberg, were first to take the leap.

“They’re very sophisticated marketers and true community partners,” said Mark Fernandez, Devil Rays senior vice president and chief sales officer, speaking about the Times. “Our ideologies, market profiles and goals on this one all just clicked.”

The Times becomes the club’s exclusive newspaper sponsor, effectively blocking out several elements of promotion done at the ballpark by the rival Tampa Tribune.

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