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
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon