The Willets Point Development and MLB’s Brave New Marketing World

An article by posted on July 11, 2013

Cork Gains (Cork? Really?) of Business Insider wrote a disturbing piece last week about the future of baseball advertisement that you can read here.

Roger Centre advertising

Sportsnet, the Blue Jay’s TV network, is now placing ads on some of the last remaining ad-free surfaces of sporting events, the playing field. The interesting thing is that, like the yellow first down line markers in football, the ads will be superimposed on the field of play and not actually painted on the grass. Sportsnet recently broadcast a Toronto Blue Jays game with “HONDA” visible in foul territory along the third base line.

Sportsnet has also managed to superimpose ads in the “batters eye” area in center field — an area traditionally free of advertisements so as not to interfere with the batter’s view of the pitch. Pretty slick.

While most people consider intrusions of profit driven corporate entities into our national pastime an abomination I disagree. I say the more advertising the better. We could soon be treated to a Viagra on deck circle, or how about a Dark Knight Rises (Again) pitcher’s mound during Matt Harvey’s starts? You could have “the Gap” in left center, a Quizno’s infield, an Activia batter’s box … Imagine the possibilities? How about a Pepto Bismol call to the pen? A Citibank base or Second Amendment base?  Iron Man III third base!  Home Depot Plate? A Jimmy John’s visit to the mound?

Think of the political implications of ad space in left field and right field (moderates in center)? Hormel could purchase the rights to Pablo Sandoval’s buttocks, Bridget’s Brazilian Body Wax could purchase Josh Satin’s eyebrows! Imagine a Smith and Wesson Verlander fastball? A Lane Bryant Heath Bell curveball, or a Purdue Marlon Byrd line drive? Maybe a Pearl Vision home plate Umpire? How about a White Castle Grienke slider? Bernie’s Autobody home plate collision? Dunkin batting donuts? Why the hell not?

I believe this is all part of a marketing plan that will eventually integrate baseball venues into massive retail outlets where you can catch a game and stop by PetSmart for a 40 lb. bag of Eukanuba on the way home. You could swing by the Piercing Pagoda during the 7th inning stretch and get that nose piercing you’ve been contemplating.

This dystopia is not far from reality folks. The NYC Economic Development Corporation recently published a project update on it’s website on the Willets Point development.

On March 18, 2013 the City Planning Commission certified into the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure an application from the Queens Development Group, LLC and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for special permits from the City Planning Commission pursuant to Section 124-60 of the New York City Zoning Resolution, as amended pursuant to a proposed text amendment, to facilitate surface parking and active recreation on four adjacent zoning lots located within the Special Willets Point District. The proposed text amendment and special permits would facilitate one component of a larger multi-phased redevelopment of the entire Willets Point area currently planned for both within the District (east of Citi Field) and outside the District (west and south of Citi Field). A Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development acting as lead agency.

Yes sports fans, pretty soon a Victoria’s Secret kiosk will pop up right next to the Shake Shack. You’ll be able to rent really expensive apartments at the Willet’s Point development at a slight discount if you’ll consent to digitally projected advertisements on your bathroom wall. Cha Ching! In addition to hot dogs and beer vendors pretty soon there will be Croc vendors, maybe a T-mobile guy, I can see it now, “Ray Bans, get your Ray Bans.”

That’s right Mets faithful, get ready for a brave new world of marketing, where, if you look real hard between texts on your brand new iPhone and sips of your grande iced triple mocha latte, you might even notice that there’s a baseball game going on.

About the Author ()

I’ve been a Met fan since August 1969 when a fire resulted in the Red Cross placing my family on the 6th floor of a building in Willets Point. I could see Shea from our balcony and I knew something big was going on. I followed them through the dark years and the resurgence of the 80’s only (sadly) to miss the fall of 86 because I was in Boot Camp. I've been serving penance ever since in Minnesota where I'm an SLP. I've written a lot about the Mets in an effort to share with my kids (and anyone else who might listen), a sporting tradition that made much of my childhood worthwhile. Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewBalasis

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