Four months from Opening Day, the Marlins’ new home remains No-Name Ballpark.
Team President David Samson indicated Wednesday that the signings of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell and pursuit of more big-name free agents has sparked interest in companies wanting to attach their name to the retractable-roof park in Little Havana.
“No naming rights deal to announce. We certainly have gotten more calls in the past week than I would have expected from people we have never spoken to before, so I’m kind of glad there was nothing announced prior,” Samson said during a news conference at the Winter Meetings in Dallas.
That would suggest that companies aren’t concerned with implications from the federal investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission into the controversial financing of the ballpark that surfaced last week. Suggestions that might deter free agents quickly disappeared with the signing of Reyes and aggressive pursuit of Albert Pujols and others.
“How we look at naming rights is really focus on not how the building was built but what is the value for the team, what is the value for the sponsor moving forward,” said Eric R. Smallwood, senior vice president of Front Row Marketing Services, a firm that has negotiated naming rights on numerous venues.
The pursuit of a naming rights partner for the Marlins’ park has dragged on longer than expected without fruition. During a ballpark tour in June, Samson said negotiations were down to two companies and moving into the final stages.
The team also plans to sell secondary sponsorships to the four quadrants of the ballpark, but Samson said they wouldn’t finalize those until the primary deal was done.
Samson was asked Wednesday if the strategy was to load up on stars to up the ante for naming rights to the ballpark.
“It’d have to be one heck of a record-breaking naming rights deal,” he said.