The naming rights to Bowman Field, home of the Williamsport Crosscutters (MLB Draft League), are back on the market after an existing deal with BB&T Bank expired.
There is a larger issue at play here. Part of the appeal of any naming-rights deal is association with an affiliated team: BB&T extended naming-rights deals with other ballpark after the merger of SunTrust and BB&T, resulting in the new Truist branding. (We now have Truist Park, Truist Field, Truist Stadium and Truist Point in the baseball world.) Now, not all of these deals were with affiliated teams–Truist Point is home of the High Point Rockers, part of an MLB Partner League and not an affiliated team–but part of the appeal of a ballpark naming-rights deal is the sheer volume of fan exposure, whether it’s 60 or 80 games plus other events. And the Crosscutters are not part of MiLB baseball anymore, dropping from the Short Season A NY-Penn League to the new summer-collegiate MLB Draft League.
On the flip side, we’ve found naming-rights deals to be summer-collegiate ballparks to be a hard sell, even in the case of popular teams that draw well. You just don’t get the volume of events during a typical summer-collegiate season. In the case of Bowman Field, where the Crosscutters are planning plenty of events in addition to MLB Draft League play, the previous BB&T naming-rights deal was $35,000 per year, an extension of an original deal calling for $150,000 over five years.
In any case, the city of Williamsport issued a RFP for naming rights, but has not received any interest–though we’re just at the start of the process. So we’ll be eager to see what sort of interest emerges, though the current COVID-19 economy may make this a unique situation.
Photo of Bowman Field courtesy Williamsport Crosscutters.