Much is always made of the bad weather that can wreak havoc on the MLB schedule through the first six weeks of the season, and what can or can’t be done to adjust the schedule to make a difference in the future. While some wring their hands, others may see opportunity. For example the Tuesday night cold game with an 8,000 advance can maybe be turned into 20,000 on a day/night doubleheader in July for some teams. It should also really be noted that the casual fan may start paying more attention with the start of interleague play, a time when the distractions of Little League, school and even the NBA and NHL Playoffs are starting to wind down. Now of course the baseball ops folks will start pulling their hair out while trying to juggle a tougher schedule come mid-summer and the makeups, but from a fans perspective those later races are what baseball is all about. People aren’t turned off by spring baseball, they are just not as engaged, and that probably hasn’t changed well…ever. Every sport, save the NFL, experiences the lull between a season opener and when casual fans start to pay attention more a month or so in, perhaps we notice it more in baseball because of the frequency of games.
One other shining opportunity that may come out of bad weather is the need for another creative sponsor sell…marketing the rain delay. Now in the past teams have filled rain delays with video, giveaways, and sometimes the odd insurance sponsorship, but for a creative brand to come along…maybe a video game or video player, or even Nook or ipad…as the “sponsor” of rain delays would be an interesting twist. The sponsor provides an activity and giveaways to pass the time, and the sponsorship only kicks in during bad weather interruptions. It would have buzz and fun and give the sport something unique to sell that few other sports have (except auto racing, tennis and some golf), a weather interruption. Also the sell could be very cost efficient for a sponsor, as it would only kick in as a spend when the heavens open. For a sponsor looking for a bigger play, one could look to multiple teams or a whole division. Maybe there is even a grass company like Scott’s looking to expand its reach with an already existing sponsor, and tarps have seen logos pop up in recent years in Chicago and Boston, with LL Bean even carving up the tarp after the season to make custom boots.
The New York Knicks sold the last five minutes of every game to the Foxwoods Hotel and Casino, the same could be done with rain delays. Heck it’s a sponsorship that many teams hope they would never use and it makes for new real estate for in-game engagement, not just for commercial spots. There are the obligatory weather reports during the game to see when the break in the gloom comes, but putting a positive and creative spin on a nasty evening may give some extra value to fans while finding another revenue stream which is still clean, creative and worthy of lots of fun and added value.