By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
July 6, 2011
Average temperatures well over 100 degrees, along with monsoonal thunderstorms (not to mention the apocalyptical dust cloud) will keep many All-Star activities in Phoenix this weekend in the comfy confines of large air-conditioned buildings. Regardless, MLB is hoping to better the mediocre numbers it put up at last year’s event in Anaheim. After strong at-bats in San Francisco (2007), New York (2008), and St. Louis (2009), the Anaheim All-Star break saw a Home Run Derby that failed to sell out, even with last-minute ticket price discounts; a 22% drop in TV ratings on ESPN; and tie-ins to the nearby Hollywood scene that fell as flat as last weekend’s box office returns on “Larry Crowne.”
Ever hopeful, several MLB sponsors have taken the opportunity to renew their deals with the league. Among those re-upping are Bayer and Chevrolet, an MLB corporate sponsor since 2005. Chevy continued as a sponsor of TBS’ “All-Star Game Selection Show” on July 3, which was presented by Taco Bell.
Additionally, Fox has virtually sold out its ad inventory around the MLB All-Star Game at a 9-10% increase from last year’s rates, the network has reported. Fox has reportedly sold in-game 30-second spots for as much as $575,000, with the auto, movie, and telecomm categories buying strong and the only current ad inventory in a few spots in the bottom of the ninth inning—after many East Coast viewers have gone to bed.
ESPN will cover Monday’s popular State Farm Home Run Derby, which looks to be a slugfest manned by some of the best power hitters in baseball, including Boston’s David Ortiz, Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder, and Toronto’s Jose Bautista. Like most events surrounding the All-Star break, the Home Run Derby is also a charitable event, and as captains, Ortiz and Fielder will select a charity that their teams will support. State Farm and MLB collaborate to donate money to both teams, win or lose.
For the winning captain’s charity, a $150,000 donation will be made in the captain’s name, along with a $100,000 contribution to the Boys & Girls Club of America (BCGA). The losing team will contribute $25,000 to the charity of its captain’s choice, with the remaining money donated to BCGA on behalf of State Farm and MLB. Additionally, State Farm and MLB will combine to donate id="mce_marker"8,000 for every home run hit with a “Gold Ball,” a dollar figure chosen because it coincides with the number of State Farm agents throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Besides the Home Run Derby, MLB and the host Diamondbacks will oversee charitable initiatives and activities throughout Greater Phoenix area, starting Friday and leading up to Tuesday’s 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field. The All-Star Week community effort, with financial and volunteer support from some of the MLB’s major sponsors, supports children, U.S. veterans, cancer research, and environmental concerns, among other local groups.
MLB and the Diamondbacks will donate more than $5 million from a portion of the proceeds from Monday’s Gatorade All-Star Workout Day toward a variety of local and national charities, including Stand Up To Cancer, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Arizona State Veteran Home and the Foundation for Blind Children. (Since 1997, more than $45 million has been donated to non-profit organizations from Gatorade All-Star Workout Day proceeds.)
As an extension of MLB’s commitment to “Welcome Back Veterans,” on-the-spot renovations will be made to the Arizona State Veterans Home, including a greenhouse constructed for a therapeutic gardening program and shade covers for patient vans. The project is supported by MLB and the Diamondbacks with a id="mce_marker"00,000 donation, as well as Bank of America, which is contributing $75,000 and providing nearly 100 employee volunteers toward the project. Scotts, the official lawn care company of MLB, is also donating Miracle-Gro materials for the greenhouse project, turning the center into a veritable baseball-supported oasis in the Arizona desert.