Ah, baseball season. The crack of the bat. The smell of the grass. The taste of hot dogs and beer. The sight of… an absolutely breathtaking amount of advertising.
This is not a complaint about baseball having sold out. Every penny that can be milked out of the game should be, because this is America’s national pastime, and when America isn’t passing time, it’s spending time figuring out ways to make more money. So, sure, go right ahead and push corporate culture as far as the customer base will allow it.
It’s easily allowable on stadium walls, because it just blends into the atmosphere. In fact, it’s colorful and you might even argue that ads add a bit of character – and sometimes some accidental humor, like Jay Bruce batting in New York while standing in front of an advertising board whose lettering his body obscured enough of so that it read “ANAL Power” … while Bruce was batting against Bartolo Colon. The whole thing was captured beautifully by Deadspin’s Timothy Burke, an American hero of screenshotting.
Those boards behind home plate are only a small piece of the advertising puzzle at a modern baseball game for fans at the park. The real action is in the outfield.
From an upper deck seat behind home plate at Citi Field, you can see the stadium’s namesake on a giant marquee, as well as a logo next to “Let’s Go Mets” above the jumbotron, plus an ad next to the 408-foot marker in dead center field.
Also visible from the top-of-the-stadium vantage point are ads for Subway, Porsche, SW24, Geico (twice), East Coast Energy Group (also twice), First Data, Delta, Block Advisors, SNY, Hyundai, M&M’s, W.B. Mason, Budweiser, Verizon, National Car Rental, Gulf, Konica Minolta, Altec Lansing, StubHub, King’s Hawaiian, Hospital for Special Surgery, Coca-Cola, Pro Player, Honda, Select Sector SPDRs (twice), Wise, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jim Beam, Old Dominion Freight Line, Affinity Health Plan, Toyota, Goya, Mercedes Benz, Hain Celestial, Parts Authority, Empire City Casino, Imperial Bag & Paper, and Nikon.
Those are just the permanent signs, so the list does not include the electronic ribbon boards on the facing of the upper deck and the left field loge level – sorry, Excelsior Level, home of the Foxwoods Club. Nor does it include the other rotating ad boards down the baselines, nor any of the ads placed on concourses throughout the stadium.
Full credit to the Mets for maximizing revenues by putting companies’ logos all over the place. That’s just responsible business practice, true to baseball’s heritage, and enjoyable insofar as Yoenis Cespedes can maybe hit a homer now and then off the face of that dingbat yellow M&M in left field.
The problem here isn’t for the Mets or for the fans seeing these advertisements, it’s for the companies doing the advertising.
There are five car companies with signs in the outfield. Surely, Porsche doesn’t really care, though why does Porsche advertise anyway? They’re Porsche. Their customer base is “people who want and can afford a Porsche.” Maybe they need to fend off the occasional encroachment of Ferrari into the dreams of the rich dudes dealing with a mid-life crisis, but they’re really not feeling a threat from any of the other cars here. Similar deal for Mercedes.
Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota? All they’re doing at the ballpark is canceling each other out. Anyone who goes to the ballpark thinking, “I need a new car, and whichever sensible import brand is good enough for the Mets, that’s gonna be my pick,” is going to come away as confused as ever in their car-buying process.
At least, when that Mets fan buys the car, he or she will know how to ensure it, what gas to put in it, where to get auto parts, what potato chips to eat while driving, what coffee to drink while stuck in traffic, what hospital to go to after crashing it, what health insurance to use for the medical bills, what office supplies company to contact to buy a pen to fill out all the attendant paperwork, and what beer to drink to try to forget that any of it happened.
That last one might also help with some of the Mets’ recent games.
follow Jesse Spector on Twitter @jessespector