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Florida Papers Duel over New Baseball Team; St. Pete Times, Tampa Trib Vie for Marketing Leverage by Association with New Tampa Bay Devil Rays Franchise

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Florida Papers Duel over New Baseball Team; St. Pete Times, Tampa Trib Vie for Marketing Leverage by Association with New Tampa Bay Devil Rays Franchise

Article excerpt

St. Pete Times, Tampa Trib vie for marketing leverage by association with new Tampa Bay Devil Rays franchise

The Tampa bay Devil Rays are going up against the New York Yankees and the rest of the American League East in their debut season. Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times is going up against the Tampa Tribune in an effort to use the team to boost business.

It's an all-out war that could be more exciting than the baseball games.

Already, there have been competing promotions at Tropicana Field, the Rays ballpark, located only 12 blocks from the Times offices. Although the Times has signed a major sponsorship deal with the Rays, the Tribune can conduct its own stadium promotions on a limited basis.

Less than a week after the season began, the Tribune gave out team posters with the newspaper's logo to everyone who entered Tropicana Field, or "The Dome" as it's called, according to Jeff Green, Tribune vice president of sales and marketing.

Meanwhile the Dome is blanketed with Times promotions, from a large rolled up newspaper billboard on the left field wall, to logos on ticket booths. According to the Times' contract with the team, it is the only newspaper that can be sold at the stadium, where it is hawked by newsboys and displayed on racks. Even the Dome's restrooms are adorned with pictures of the Times' sports section.

While the Tribune has suggested the Times is paying $1 million a year over 10 years, Mike Foley, the Times' vice president of corporate affairs, said the figure is exaggerated but declined to give the correct cost of the "near exclusive" contract.

The Times has admitted spending $2 million over the past three years on staff' for special sections, extra newsprint and erecting the stadium sign.

Green alluded to a bidding war for the stadium sponsorship but said that the Tribune shied away when the price neared $1 million a year. "I don't think it's worth a million bucks; I'm happy they got it," he said. "I can get more of a bang for the buck doing other things"

Green says the Tribune has strong relationships with other professional franchises in the area, including the Buccaneers football team. "We want to spread our marketing dollars across all the franchises," he said.

But he admitted the Tribune fought hard for the sponsorship and called the situation "classic marketing warfare between two papers that have been competing strongly for years."

In the end, the Tribune signed its own deal with the team at a much lower figure, which Green declined to disclose. …

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