We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Ballpark Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #5: Copa de la Diversión rebrands 33 Minor League Baseball teams to great success.
What began in January 2015 as a research project into how to bring more Latinx fans to Minor League Baseball ballparks officially became Copa de la Diversión (“Fun Cup”) in 2018, with 33 MiLB teams in 11 different leagues embracing a program that revamped logos, uniforms and team names all in the spirit of connecting teams to their Hispanic communities.
The official announcement was made in a day-long rollout of the team names and logos on March 20, with five or six teams released at the top of each hour starting at 10 a.m.: Los Mariachis de Nuevo México (Albuquerque Isotopes), Los Cangrejos Fantasmas de Chesapeake (Bowie Baysox), and onward. Minor League Baseball’s own in-house development team, led by Ryan Foose, the Senior Manager of Brand Development, designed 23 of the 33 logos and brands. Other teams, such as the Kane County Cougars, chose instead to color-swap their usual look.
They were an immediate smash hit. “At 3 p.m., through our store at MiLB.com, we had already sold out of certain teams’ hats,” Kurt Hunzeker, Minor League Baseball’s Vice President, Marketing Strategy & Research, told Ballpark Digest. “We had four people buy all 33 at retail price.”
This was only the first part of the experience; each franchise connected with its local Chambers of Commerce and community leaders, transforming the atmosphere at the ballpark for each Copa game. The efforts brought clear success: Copa games attracted nearly 1,000 more fans on average than the regular MiLB attendance per game, set a single-game record in Albuquerque and brought in the largest crowd in San Antonio since 2004. Merchandise sales were similarly enormous, exceeding the projected $500,000 estimate by $3 million and counting.
At the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, the inaugural three-foot tall Copa was awarded to Los Mariachis de Nuevo México, as judged by Minor League Baseball’s Latinx Advisory Committee, edging Monarcas de Eugene (Eugene Emeralds), Cucuys de San Bernardino (Inland Empire 66ers), Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City Dodgers) and Flying Chanclas de San Antonio.
Next year will provide even stiffer competition. 39 more teams are joining Copa de la Diversión, bringing the total to 72 franchises included and over 350 Copa games.
Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date: