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Naming rights in play in Aberdeen, Pensacola

Aberdeen IronBirdsTwo Minor League Baseball teams — the Aberdeen IronBirds (short season A; NY-Penn League) and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Class AA; Southern League) — are shopping naming-rights deal to their ballparks.

Of the two, the more surprising move is from the IronBirds, who play at Ripken Stadium, so named for the famous Ripken family that launched the team. It’s a hybrid naming-rights deal: the ballpark will still retain the Ripken Stadium name but add the name of a sponsor. From the Baltimore Sun:

The family name of Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. would not disappear from the 6,300-seat stadium. Rather, it would be paired with that of a new business partner.

“We’re looking to take the iconic Ripken name and partner with another iconic, established brand,” said Colin Clark, vice president of brand marketing for Ripken Baseball, which Ripken chairs. “The stadium will be ‘Ripken Stadium Presented by …’ “

In Pensacola, the sale of naming rights picks up the earlier effort to sell naming rights when the ballpark opened. The naming rights deal is actually being brokered by Pensacola’s Community Maritime Park Associates; the Blue Wahoos had shopped naming rights in the past. From the Pensacola News Journal:

Ed Spears, executive director of the CMPA, said Friday that Blue Wahoos owner Quint Studer encouraged the board to seek out a broker to help market the rights, after repeated attempts by the team proved unsuccessful.

The 2011 use agreement between the Blue Wahoos and the city gives the team exclusive power to market and sell the rights, a potentially lucrative deal that would be split 50-50 between the CMPA and Northwest Florida Professional Baseball. On Friday, Spears estimated the value of those rights at $250,000 to $500,000 per year.

And it’s not just the name of the stadium that is up for grabs. Whoever is ultimately hired by the board would be responsible for producing a list of all sponsorable products at the stadium. Spears said that list also could include things such as signage, seats and letterhead.


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