Introducing the first Ad-Free Ballpark. Grayson Stadium belongs to the fans. pic.twitter.com/wMCclZJb5N
— Savannah Bananas (@TheSavBananas) February 25, 2020
Refreshing news out of Savannah, Georgia today where the Savannah Bananas of the Coastal Plain League announced that they’ll be taking down all ballpark advertisements for the 2020 season.
It’s not like the Bananas need a new gimmick to get attention or draw more fans. In 2019, they led the CPL in attendance and drew more than twice the number of fans as the next closest team. They were second in the nation in summer collegiate league attendance last year, trailing only the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods league, and have sold out 88 consecutive games overall. That’s what makes this news truly remarkable. This is not some small operation looking to make a social media splash. This is a very successful operation leaving real money on the table in order to forge a stronger bond with its fans.
I’ll be honest, ballpark advertising doesn’t cross my mind when deciding whether or not to drop a few bucks to see the local nine that evening. But compare these two pictures of Fenway Park, one from 1990 and one from 2016:
I counted ten ads between the foul poles (including one for charity) in 1990. I counted twelve on the Monster alone in 2016. I’ll take 1990 Fenway over 2016 Fenway seven days a week and twice on Sundays. [That includes the Monster Seats, for the record. You can have them. Give me the netting any day.]
In this age of limitless corporate sponsorships and ads on jerseys, how much is ever enough? Good for the Bananas for taking a principled stand. Hopefully more teams start doing this, even if just for turn-back-the-clock nights. Now please excuse me while I search for my own yellow tux.