Major League Baseball Properties signed a deal with Clear Channel Entertainment this week to sponsor the Ozzfest and Lollapalooza tours, along with 34 other Clear Channel concerts, according to the Star-Telegram. Baseball officials are hoping that hordes of young music fans with hefty disposable income will buy authentic baseball apparel and, maybe, become fans of the game.
"In order to embrace and attract the people we're trying to go after, we have to go to their turf and engage them on their terms," said Steve Armus, MLB's vice president of licensing. "If we're going to try to reach out to the younger crowd to embrace our apparel collection and embrace baseball, we have to do some different things."
Armus said the league has been pursuing the 16- to 24-year-old market for a while, both as merchandise buyers and as potential fans. He said these tours deliver that demographic.
The sponsorship supports MLB Properties' Access to the Show program, which features baseball's Authentic Collection of high-ticket clothing worn by players on all 30 MLB teams. The league is working with retailer Champs Sports to try to attract concert fans to the stores to buy the baseball gear.
The league will also roll out its MLB Road Show. The mobile interactive baseball display inside two 52-foot trailers has batting and pitching cages, video games and other baseball exhibits.
"Baseball is a great partner with us," said Bruce Eskowitz, president of national sales and marketing for Clear Channel Entertainment. "If you really break it down, these are people who find the apparel fresh and hip."
"I've got to give it to them," said Robert Tuchman, president and chief executive of TSE Sports & Entertainment in New York. "They realize the need to brand themselves in front of that demographic. Events like this and bands like this are talking to the youth of America."
Tuchman said MLB Properties should be prepared for more than one year of sponsorship. But Armus said they are concerned with making cash registers ring now with sales of authentic apparel.
"We're going all out on this thing," Armus said. "It's the most comprehensive thing on the licensing side. We believe it's going to pay dividends, but we're not going to commit to the future until we see the results."