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Houston ADstros? Why “Ford” Was Emblazoned Across Astros’ Helmets In Mexico Series

Rest easy Houston Astros fans. It’s either this or your ticket prices get hiked. The weekend’s two-game international series in Monterrey, Mexico between the ‘Stros and the Los Angeles Angels May 4-5 left fans scratching their heads in bewilderment.

The familiar Ford Motor Car Company logo was crassly festooned across the non-earflap side of both teams’ helmets in this Mexico Series, convincingly swept by Houston with a combined 24-6 score.

Fears that MLB helmets (or uniforms, themselves) may soon look like a be-stickered NASCAR vehicle can be tabled, at least for the time being.

Similar helmets were seen in mid-April when the Cincinnati Reds met the St. Louis Cardinals, also in Monterrey.

It seems helmet logos have been MLB-approved for several years, but just for non-domestic games. JohnWallStreet.com explains:

“Sponsor logos have been permitted on MLB uniform sleeves and helmets – for games played outside of the U.S. – since [2000], so this wasn’t the introduction of a new initiative, but with the success of the NBA’s jersey patch program and MLB playing more games abroad than ever before it stands to reason that sports business professionals are paying greater attention.”

In August 2018, cell phone startup ROKiT signed a four-year deal with the Houston Rockets in the team’s inaugural uniform naming rights effort.

Houston Astros Gear at Fanatics.com

Ad & Subtract

Knowing there’s profit to be had in selling ad space on otherwise clean and carefully constructed uniforms seems to set baseball’s commercial future in cement, despite the hand-wringing from the “traditionalist” fan.

“The NBA’s patch sponsorship pilot program has far exceeded expectations,” JohnWallStreet reports. “All 30 franchises have found a sponsor and the teams are raking in more than $150 million/year in revenue. Back in April 2016, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver projected patch sponsorships would generate +/- $100 million in newfound revenue – so the league has overshot its goal by +50%.”

In basketball terms, we would call that a slam dunk.

It should be noted that the task of selling the weekend’s helmet ad space was not left to the teams, themselves. MLB drove the deal with Ford, and the teams and their players share in the resultant revenues generated from the logo placement.

For international travel like what the Angels and Astros had to make for the Mexico Series, that revenue helps to offset some of the attendant costs.

Ad Content… And Discontent

Lots of thought, you’ll be happy to know, is going into the possible fan pushback for helmet and/or uniform ad placements.

“MLB reasons that the use of sponsor logos on uniforms abroad remains consistent with the tradition in those countries – which is true – but [Tony Ponturo, EVP at Turnkey Intelligence] suspects it’s also a way for the league to cautiously gauge the fans reaction before making a commitment to buck tradition here in the States.

“Considering that the presence of corporate logos on the uniform has been a non-story in the NBA – fans who buy team jerseys are clamoring for replicas with the sponsor insignia be made available at retail – it’s reasonable to assume any initial pushback would quickly quiet down.”

“Oh, Yeah?”

If you’re a baseball fan in love with the traditional aspects of the game (hated when Wrigley Field got lights, ditched the ‘Stros upon their move to the AL, couldn’t stand the Oakland A’s and their yellow shoes), make sure you dial your “initial pushback” setting to loud, persuasive, and obnoxious.

Meanwhile, JohnWallStreet peers into the future for what apparently seems to be inevitable:

“While MLB has no plans to put corporate advertising on helmets (or jerseys) for non-international games, it’s reasonable to suspect the owners will eventually decide to sell ad space on team uniforms for all 162 games. In fact, Ponturo was adamant that ‘it will happen. Leagues need to find new ways to fill the revenue pipeline.'”

If that revenue pipeline can avoid snaking its way into fans’ pocketbooks (more so than it already has), those fans just might be able to stomach a flashing neon “Drink Coca-Cola” sign on a helmet.

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