Apr 2, 2009

Tomorrow, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) will open up its first “Players-Only” retail store in the still sadly hilariously named Citi Field (anybody else think Citi should have saved some of the money they used on obtaining naming rights and maybe not laid off so many people?).  The new store will be operated by Aramark and is in part an effort by the union to generate revenue for itself and do a better job at creating superstar personas within the sport of baseball.  Creating superstar personas is an area in which baseball has been playing catch up with the NFL and NBA (think Kobe. think Manning. think…well, i don’t know who to think of in baseball) for longer than necessary, and they hope to use these player-merchandise stores to rectify that situation.  More from the New York Times,

The outlet will be called The Players Clubhouse: A Players Choice Store and is being billed by the union as a prototype for future retail stores. The union has not said where its next stores may be, but one of its goals is to put outlets in other stadiums.

The Players Clubhouse inside Citi Field will carry goods made by VF/Majestic, Nike, Twins, Topps, Upper Deck, WinCraft, Forever Collectibles, PhotoFile and Rawlings. Everything in the store, from bobbleheads to coffee mugs to team jerseys, will have a player’s name or likeness on it, thereby producing licensing revenue for the union. The union will test new products in the store, including the possibility of products designed by Mets players.

Goods with team names or logos but no player names or likenesses produce licensing revenue for only Major League Baseball, which is why items with players’ names are also more expensive than similar products without them.

Pedroia SalsaMLB superstars are obviously going to be pushing for the success of these stores, in part because all active players share in surplus MLBPA revenues and any superstars that are able to become “household names” are obviously going to be making a decent chunk of change.  Although, are MLB superstars really pressed for money?  Baseball’s luxury tax (in comparison to a salary cap) usually allows baseball players to make more money than superstars in other sports (anyone else making A-Rod money in any sport?).   So, if an MLB superstar isn’t really a household name…is he really suffering?  Hopefully the $20 million a year deal he just signed will placate him long enough to forget that everyone in America does not know his name and complete backstory (add to that the fact that you can be a baseball superstar for 20 years, and that most superstars would have long since retired in baseball or basketbal).  But, I digress.  This store, and others in the future, represent a new way of marketing for MLB players, which should lead to new opportunities in the products, and advertising fields, at the very least.  So kudos to you MLBPA for finally getting this idea to come to fruition.

Wonder if they’ll have any Dustin Pedroia Salsa?  One can only hope.

New York Times — Union to Open Ballpark to Promote Star Players

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