By Ken Reed
The Savannah Bananas know baseball fans hate being inundated with advertisements everywhere they look at the ballpark. So, they’re going to do something about it this season. The Bananas are getting rid of all ads for the 2020 campaign.
The Bananas, who play in the Coastal Plain League, a highly-regarded summer collegiate baseball circuit, won’t have any more ads on the outfield wall, no more ads in the game programs, no more in-between inning ads blasting out over the PA system.
“People don’t come to a ballpark to get advertised to,” according to Marie Gentry, the Banana’s “fan first director.”
“They don’t wake up and say, ‘I can’t wait to get marketed to.’ You see it with Netflix and other services: People are paying to not get advertised to. We see ourselves doing the same thing.”
The Bananas play in historic Grayson Stadium in Savannah Georgia. The facility sits about 4,000 fans and the Bananas have sold out every home game since 2017 (88 straight games). The team has about 26 home games a season and they are all expected to be sold out once again in 2020.
“This is all in the effort to create the most Fans First experience in sports,” said Bananas Owner Jesse Cole.
“We are relentlessly focused on a better fan experience and we don’t believe anyone comes to the ballpark wanting to be advertised to.”
In most pro — and increasingly college — stadiums and arenas, every piece of real estate seems to be covered with ads. Scoreboards are used to deliver ads at the same rate as the score, number of outs, and count on the batter. PA announcers read ads as often as they tell you who’s hitting and pitching.
Not at Grayson Stadium. Not any more.
“Our focus will always be on serving our fans in a better way not capitalizing on the people we serve,” said Cole.
The leftfield wall at Grayson Stadium will now have a display of famous baseball players who have played at Grayson, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Hank Aaron. The centerfield wall will be a traditional dark green, and the rightfield wall will feature a “Go Bananas!” banner and a big area where fans can sign their names.
Cole dresses in a yellow tuxedo for games and is the orchestrator of a variety of fun activities each game, including a dancing first base coach, a giant banana mascot named Split, and a conga line that winds through the stands every game. The players get involved between innings by dancing in front of their dugout.
For the Bananas, the focus is on fun, not marketing. What a refreshing concept.
Anybody up for a road trip to a Bananas game this summer?
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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