SBJ/20101129/This Week's Issue

Marlins seek match between sponsors, park’s palette


ROBERT VIGON / MARLINS

The $515M ballpark is separated by color: home
plate (blue), first base (yellow), third base (red)
and outfield (green).

The Florida Marlins are marketing four founding partnerships for their new ballpark with a twist — each sponsor’s brand must match the stadium’s primary colors.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, a New York art dealer specializing in 20th-century masters, is developing a 37,000-seat facility themed after the works of Spanish artist Joan Miró. The phrase “Miro’s palette” refers to the colors of red, yellow, green and blue he often used in his paintings.

Separating the $515 million facility in Little Havana by color, from home plate (blue), to first base (yellow), to third base (red), to the outfield (green) will also help fans easily find their way around the park, team President David Samson said.

To keep the theme consistent as it relates to sponsorship revenue, the Marlins are doing something unusual, using color as their guide to pitching seven-figure agreements with potential founding partners instead of targeting them by business category, Samson confirmed.

The Marlins are marketing those deals in-house without using a consultant. They are also selling the ballpark’s naming rights on their own, a deal that has nothing to do with the color scheme, Samson said. He expects naming rights and two of the four quads to be sold by April.

A group that includes Loria, Samson, vice chairman Joel Mael and vice president of sales Brendan Cunningham has met with prospects in the team’s sales headquarters adjacent to the ballpark site, where all four color palettes are on display.

“These [four] colors are universal in every brand,” Samson said. “It is a great way to get everybody focused and a great way to start the conversation for companies that want to have their brands associated with one of our quads.”

Naming-rights brokers Randy Bernstein and Jeff Knapple commended the Marlins for their creativity, but both questioned whether the team had limited its opportunities. “That leads me to believe they have already pre-sold these deals, or should have,” Bernstein said.

Claude Delorme, the Marlins’ executive vice president of ballpark development, said the plan has not hindered the club’s ability to market founding sponsor deals. Team officials have identified 12 prospects and have had five to six discussions with each company.

The categories include cellular, banking, beer, soda and consumer electronics, Samson said. Budweiser and Coca-Cola are both existing team sponsors whose primary color is red. In that case, he said, should both be interested, only one brand would stake ownership to the third-base-line quad.

Each quad is designed with glazed block walls and acrylic floors accentuating those four hues. As fans walk the park, one color flows into the next, forming a watercolor canvas of sorts that “starts to take on a life of its own,” Delorme said.

The four color-coded spaces extend from the ground floor to the top of the park, and range from about 50,000 square feet to the outfield, where a sponsor with green as its dominant color could have an estimated 100,000 square feet to work with to activate its brand, Delorme said.

As such, the outfield could command a higher price, he said, based on the television exposure for a vast amount of real estate containing 116 all-inclusive seats tied to La Playa, a beach-themed area with a swimming pool and large bar in left field.

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