We’re still awaiting full details on how MLB plans to address the viewing experience when games resume, but one trend is emerging: Teams are selling fan cutouts for placement within the ballpark.
We’re already seeing how other sports are handling the issue of broadcasting games with no fans present: the NBA, for example, is planning a “virtual grandstand” with plenty of tech to enhance and rethink the game broadcast. We’ve not seen any indiction that MLB officials are thinking of anything along similar lines, but we are seeing an attempt to cash in on fan interest: the sales of fan cutouts set up in home ballparks.
The San Francisco Giants announced plans for Oracle Park cutouts, and crosstown rivals Oakland A’s unveiled a similar plan with some imaginative twists with the Coliseum Cutouts program. Cutouts are $49 each for Access members, $89 each for general fans, or $129 for a Foul Ball Zone cutout. Fans should purchase at athletics.com/cutouts by Sunday, July 5, to ensure their image will be ready for Opening Day. Proceeds will benefit the Alameda County Community Food Bank, East Oakland Youth Development Center, and Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.
Fans can send in a photo of themselves in A’s gear to be added to a cardboard cutout. Coliseum Cutouts will be authenticated and recognized by MLB as official “virtual fans,” and will be placed in seats throughout the ballpark for the 2020 regular season. If a Foul Ball Zone cutout gets hit with a foul ball, the A’s will send a ball to the fan on the cutout. Fans will also have an option to pick up their cutout following the season. The A’s will include images of former players and local celebrities alongside images of fans in the stands.
Another imaginative offer comes from the Milwaukee Brewers, who are placing the “Cutout Crew” (two-foot images of fan likenesses) alongside the Bob Uecker “Last Row” statue as a virtual fan base at the very top of Miller Park this season. (UPDATE: the Brewers sold out the “Cutout Crew” this morning.)
To celebrate Uecker’s 50th season as the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers and 65th year in Major League Baseball, the cutouts will be placed in the “Uecker Seats,” near Uecker’s Last Row statue, during home games.
The Brewers Cutout Crew costs $50 with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Brewers Community Foundation (BCF). Fans can upload a photo online and the two-foot cutout will be installed in seats either in or adjacent to Section 422 of Miller Park. Games will be broadcast on Fox Sports Wisconsin and fans may catch a glimpse of themselves, and other special cutout guests, cheering on the Brew Crew.
The Uecker Last Row statue was installed in 2014 and pays tribute to the popular Miller Lite “All Stars” ad campaign which featured Uecker’s famous tagline, “I must be in the front row.” In those commercials, Uecker somehow always ended up in the last row—as did this statue. For six years, the statue has sat alone atop Miller Park’s Terrace Level in Section 422.
“We miss our fans and wanted to come up with a creative way for them to participate in the action this year,” said Brewers President – Business Operations Rick Schlesinger. “While nothing can replace the energy and passion of our loyal fans in the stands, the Cutout Crew is a unique way we can welcome familiar faces for now at Miller Park.”
In Kansas City, season-ticket holders will be offered the chance to order a hard-plastic cutout of their likeness that will be displayed in a seat at Kauffman Stadium during the 2020 season
Initially, up to 500 “Fanbassador” cutouts will be available. Each cutout can be purchased for $40. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Royals Respond Fund, a Royals Charities effort that supports Kansas City area nonprofits who focus on food insecurity as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic.
Season-ticket holders will receive an email from the Royals to access the form and upload their photo. The items will be placed in locations around the ballpark so fans and their families may be able to see the cutout of themselves while watching the game on TV. The cutouts will remain in the ballpark throughout the 2020 season.