St. Louis Cardinals: MLB should follow NHL’s lead and sell division names
By Matt Graves
The NHL just gave it’s league a shot in the arm financially. For the sake of the MLB, they should follow suit and sell the division naming rights.
It is no secret that the MLB is in a tough financial situation as a sport right now. While they did have a 2020 season, they were the only American professional sports league to go the entire 2020 regular season without fans in the stands.
Sure, there were a few thousand fans in the stands during the late stages of the playoffs, but that wasn’t enough to do much for the league. Both the NHL and the NBA got through a majority of their season with fans before having to shut down at the end, many NFL teams allowed at least some fans for some of the season as well.
In the NBA and NHL offseasons, things were close to normal as far as how actively teams were spending money. The MLB has been slower than any year in recent history.
Recently, the NHL made a move that the MLB should absolutely follow. The league’s newly formed divisions are now represented by companies who have bought the naming rights.
It is a big change, but according to this article from The Athletic, it could bring the league at least a seven-figure payday. If it can help stimulate the economy of the league, why not do the same for the MLB?
Given how well the Nike swoosh was received when it was added to each team’s jersey, there would likely be significant pushback from fans in the MLB if this happened. However, the league needs help.
There is a ton of uncertainty about how the 2021 season will go. There is still no clear answer about the DH, how many games will be played, when fans will be in the stands (and in what capacity), and even the length of the season. Figuring these things out first will help there be more certainty and hopefully allow teams to comfortably spend.
At the same time though, selling the division naming rights also offers financial certainty of a small stimulus to owners (assuming the price of the sale is distributed among the teams). As much as fans may not like the idea, it is a simple formula. Selling the divisions means teams are more incentivized to spend money on players.
It is this writer’s opinion that advertisements will inevitably find their way deeper and deeper into baseball. While that may ‘ruin the sanctity of the game’ or something, a financial shot in the arm isn’t coming from anywhere else and this move seems like a no-brainer.