What is the next emerging or new-money sports sponsorship category?
One of the biggest areas of growth in the minor leagues is a niche that is as old as the game itself. Minor League Baseball’s 160 clubs combined to wear 1,300 different jerseys this summer, a 160 percent increase over the 2013 season, helping to drive both B-to-B and consumer business for the organization’s apparel partners.
“In addition to becoming the dominant on-field partner, apparel brands are looking to properties to drive greater off-field and lifestyle relevance as that side of the business becomes more important in the quest to capture next-gen consumers. It is an indication that throughout the industry, and specifically in Minor League Baseball, that the uniform, and/or apparel, is an extension of our brand, and that has a ton of value in the marketplace, as we seek to reach 50 million annual attendees.”
Boulevard Brewing’s beers have been available at Kauffman Stadium for more than 20 years, but this spring the Kansas City-based company became the Royals’ official craft beer partner, after the club’s long-standing partnership with Anheuser-Busch expired. It was the first such designation by an MLB club.
In 2017, craft beers made up 39 percent of total ballpark beer sales, up from 26 percent in 2014, the season before the “Craft and Draft featuring Boulevard Brewing Co.” section opened in the ballpark.
In Cleveland, Great Lakes Brewery has seen similar success at Progressive Field. Great Lakes’ beers have been sold at the ballpark for several years, but became an official sponsor in 2014.
“Over the course of four years, Great Lakes Brewery’s beer business at the ballpark has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 220 percent.”
“There will be more fragmentation across alcoholic beverage, which is challenging for us. Other than that, emerging media and technologies will continue to offer the most opportunity.”
This year, New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery, the No. 1 orthopedic hospital in the country according to the most recent U.S. News and World Report, partnered with the UFC to serve as the global brand’s first official hospital.
“Successful care and treatment for UFC athletes will amplify HSS brand awareness as a premiere destination for orthopedic needs among UFC fans by leveraging in-octagon, in-
Hospital for Special Surgery
Also relatively new to the sponsorship space is the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which gained exposure as the primary care facility for TNT’s Craig Sager during his battle with the disease. The facility just began its third season as an official PGA Tour partner.
“Given the natural fit with sports, hospitals and health care systems have always been an important sponsorship category. However, the tumultuous state of health care has put a ton of pressure on hospitals and stimulated so many acquisitions, name changes and consolidation that sports properties are capitalizing on the need for hospitals to establish new brands or differentiate from their competition.”
“Video games, esports and health care.”
“Security and education. I’d offer the recent deals we did with IdentoGo and NYU as examples.”
“You’ll see a lot more of the sustainability categories. Solar and renewable energy, along with water and waste management, and recycling companies. We all know that these [sports] events use a lot of resources, and the ability to hold them in a more ‘green’ way is even more important to the next generations of consumers. You’ll also see more cause-related sports marketing. Social purpose also matters more to the next generations.”
“Wearables and what they provide in the proliferation of technology-based marketing platforms. Big data is slowly moving to where we will have a one-on-one digital relationship with all of our customers and fans.”