Lockout hurts Braves’ chance to cash in championship

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CHICAGO (AP) – World Series Champions for the first time in 26 years, the Atlanta Braves were ready to cash.

With young stars like Ronald Acuña Jr., to match a posh baseball stadium and surrounding entertainment district, they had it all in place.

Then a storm came and they had to put a tarp over some of their party plans.

Perhaps no team was injured more than Atlanta when Major League Baseball locked its players on December 2. The move put the start of the 2022 season in jeopardy and knocked Acuña and his company out of the Braves’ business plans – for now.

The fallout from a championship, especially the end of a drought like the one in Atlanta, has traditionally been quite lucrative for teams, going beyond selling merchandise and tickets to building relationships with partners. and finalize new sponsorship agreements. But labor disputes in baseball increase the difficulty for the Braves when it comes to making the most of the opportunity.

“A big part is using this moment to grow your fan base and just elevate the way people think about and perceive your organization,” said Brian Gainor, vice president of innovation for 4FRONT, a company of sports marketing.

Messages were left by the AP asking for comment from Atlanta. There has been no response, but the franchise has kept an intoxicating company since the final of its fourth World Series title.

The Braves hosted Premier League football’s Chelsea FC in a Champions meeting in early December. Each club’s mascots strolled the grounds of Truist Park and posed for photos with the Commissioner’s Trophy and Chelsea’s 2021 Champions League trophy.

“It wouldn’t have been a trip to Atlanta without visiting the champions,” Chelsea FC tweeted from their US account.

It was a wise business relationship for each club. Chelsea has over 100 million combined followers on its social media channels, while Atlanta has several states in the United States – particularly the South – that date back to when its games were broadcast on TBS.

The stop was part of a Champions League trophy tour that also included “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”, the Empire State Building in New York, a Chicago Bulls home game and the Space Center Houston. – as part of Chelsea’s efforts to turn their title into a noun. business growth.

“American fans love winners. They like American winners. They like international winners. Same thing with international fans, ”said Gainor. “So this really is the best opportunity you’ll ever have to grab the attention of fans around the world, but you have to have a plan out there to monetize those fans.”

The best teams start planning for championships long before they win it all, Gainor said, and they take a multi-year approach that brings all parts of the organization together to the effort. Communication, both internal and external, is also essential.

Hendrick Automotive Group attributed the dramatic increase in website traffic to its sponsorship of Kyle Larson, culminating with its first NASCAR Cup Series championship in November. The success prompted the company to activate or increase its marketing efforts in certain US markets.

“Kyle is able to give us this point of differentiation from other dealer groups: ‘Hey, that’s a reason to consider Hendrick,” said Brian Johnson, vice president of marketing at Hendrick Automotive Group.

“And we’re only scratching the surface. … It was a bit like the first year. We only really started the program in June or July.

Anytime baseball finalizes a new job deal, Atlanta – like all champions of the past two years – will have to deal with COVID-19 when it comes to its business plans for its title.

Social media content and experiential marketing are two effective monetary engines for newly crowned teams, but player access has been tightly controlled due to the pandemic.

“The challenge you have with all of your content right now is the ability to be with your players, film your players, and create content with your players due to the protocols in place,” said Steve Griggs, CEO of Tampa Bay Lightning, at the AP.

Tampa Bay has won the Stanley Cup each of the past two years. But he played the 2020 playoffs in a bubble in Canada, and Amalie Arena was nearly empty for much of last season due to pandemic restrictions.

Regarding the Lightning’s recent commercial success, Griggs said it’s hard to separate what comes from their back-to-back titles and what is the result of their previous work with sponsors.

“A number of these partners joined with us and wanted to spend their money with us not only because we won the championship, but also because of the way we have treated our existing partners during the pandemic over these years. two (of) difficult seasons, ”said Griggs.

The pandemic has forced some teams to take a more creative approach, especially with their content. With restrictions on player access, they focused on their fans and communities. They also organized virtual events.

“It forced them to create a new playbook or approach things in a new way,” Gainor said. “If it hadn’t been for COVID, a lot of teams would still be celebrating championships by doing things the way they always have.”

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Jay Cohen can be contacted at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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