Business Beat: Nov. 29

Clever logos pay off in national sales




Dave Wellenzohn hopped in his car on a recent Saturday morning and headed over to Batavia's Dwyer Stadium to open the gates for a family of four in town on a visit from Texas that was eager to get their hands on some Muckdogs gear.

The visiting family's children play on a Little League team named the Muckdogs, so instead of a relaxed morning at home, Wellenzohn was at the ballpark completing a $150 sale.

Taking the extra step has come out of necessity for Batavia but has paid off in a remarkable way. The Muckdogs ranked last in attendance in the short-season New York-Penn League this season but finished among the 25 top licensing teams in minor league baseball.

Batavia finished at the bottom of the 14-team league after drawing 44,270 fans in 36 openings this season—roughly 5,000 less than next-lowest Oneonta. Taking the extra step has come out of necessity for Batavia but has paid off in a remarkable way. The Muckdogs ranked last in attendance in the short-season New York-Penn League this season but finished among the 25 top licensing teams in minor league baseball.

Batavia finished at the bottom of the 14-team league after drawing 44,270 fans in 36 openings this season—roughly 5,000 less than next-lowest Oneonta. Yet the Muckdogs generated roughly $100,000 in merchandise sales and was the only short-season team ranked in the top 25.

The key to Batavia's success is not an aggressive marketing campaign. The Muckdogs had just six employees in its front office in 2007 and Wellenzohn, a veteran minor league executive who took over at the conclusion of the season, is currently a staff of one.

"Compared to the big boys, we don't have the resources for that kind of marketing," Wellenzohn said. "We're too small. We're struggling right now. If it weren't for our merchandise sales we'd be in trouble."

Batavia has succeeded because of its catchy Muckdogs nickname and a unique logo that has proven to be a hit with younger fans. The Muckdogs have spawned youth baseball and Little League teams in its image that sport Muckdogs hats, jersey and other gear. For that reason, the team only puts "Muckdogs" on its merchandise; the name Batavia is left off.

"The design is really a neat looking design and the name is a hard-edged kind of name," said Wellenzohn, who was hired to help boost attendance after a brief stint as president of Long Beach in the independent Golden League followed five years as GM of fellow NY-Penn League affiliate Jamestown. "It caught the attention of kids. We do a lot of sales on the Internet."

Batavia's success gives credence to why so many clubs are putting extra effort and resources into designing and marketing a unique logo and team identity. The proof is in the profits: a hit logo is arguably the most successful way to generate sales from beyond a team's local fan base. It has come out of necessity for Batavia but has paid off in a remarkable way. The Muckdogs ranked last in attendance in the short-season New York-Penn League this season but finished among the 25 top licensing teams in minor league baseball.

Batavia finished at the bottom of the 14-team league after drawing 44,270 fans in 36 openings this season—roughly 5,000 less than next-lowest Oneonta. Yet the Muckdogs generated roughly $100,000 in merchandise sales and was the only short-season team ranked in the top 25.

The key to Batavia's success is not an aggressive marketing campaign. The Muckdogs had just six employees in its front office in 2007 and Wellenzohn, a veteran minor league executive who took over at the conclusion of the season, is currently a staff of one.

"Compared to the big boys, we don't have the resources for that kind of marketing," Wellenzohn said. "We're too small. We're struggling right now. If it weren't for our merchandise sales we'd be in trouble."

Batavia has succeeded because of its catchy Muckdogs nickname and a unique and attractive logo that has proven to be a hit with younger fans. The Muckdogs have spawned youth baseball and Little League teams in its image that sport Muckdogs hats, jersey and other gear. For that reason, the team only puts "Muckdogs" on its merchandise; the name Batavia is left off.

"The design is really a neat looking design and the name is a hard-edged kind of name," said Wellenzohn, who was hired to help boost attendance after a brief stint as president of Long Beach in the independent Golden League followed five years as GM of fellow NY-Penn League affiliate Jamestown. "It caught the attention of kids. We do a lot of sales on the Internet."

Batavia's success gives credence to why so many clubs are putting extra effort and resources into designing and marketing a unique logo and team identity. The proof is in the profits: a hit logo is arguably the most successful way to generate sales from beyond a team's local fan bp has come out of necessity for Batavia but has paid off in a remarkable way. The Muckdogs ranked last in attendance in the short-season New York-Penn League this season but finished among the 25 top licensing teams in minor league baseball.

Batavia finished at the bottom of the 14-team league after drawing 44,270 fans in 36 openings this season—roughly 5,000 less than next-lowest Oneonta. Yet the Muckdogs generated roughly $100,000 in merchandise sales and was the only short-season team ranked in the top 25.

The key to Batavia's success is not an aggressive marketing campaign. The Muckdogs had just six employees in its front office in 2007 and Wellenzohn, a veteran minor league executive who took over at the conclusion of the season, is currently a staff of one.

"Compared to the big boys, we don't have the resources for that kind of marketing," Wellenzohn said. "We're too small. We're struggling right now. If it weren't for our merchandise sales we'd be in trouble."

Batavia has succeeded because of its catchy Muckdogs nickname and a unique and attractive logo that has proven to be a hit with younger fans. The Muckdogs have spawned youth baseball and Little League teams in its image that sport Muckdogs hats, jersey and other gear. For that reason, the team only puts "Muckdogs" on its merchandise; the name Batavia is left off.

"The design is really a neat looking design and the name is a hard-edged kind of name," said Wellenzohn, who was hired to help boost attendance after a brief stint as president of Long Beach in the independent Golden League followed five years as GM of fellow NY-Penn League affiliate Jamestown. "It caught the attention of kids. We do a lot of sales on the Internet."

Batavia's success gives credence to why so many clubs are putting extra effort and resources into designing and marketing a unique logo and team identity. The proof is in the profits: a hit logo is arguably the most successful way to generate sales from beyond a team's local fan bp has come out of necessity for Batavia but has paid off in a remarkable way. The Muckdogs ranked last in attendance in the short-season New York-Penn League this season but finished among the 25 top licensing teams in minor league baseball.

Batavia finished at the bottom of the 14-team league after drawing 44,270 fans in 36 openings this season—roughly 5,000 less than next-lowest Oneonta. Yet the Muckdogs generated roughly $100,000 in merchandise sales and was the only short-season team ranked in the top 25.

The key to Batavia's success is not an aggressive marketing campaign. The Muckdogs had just six employees in its front office in 2007 and Wellenzohn, a veteran minor league executive who took over at the conclusion of the season, is currently a staff of one.

"Compared to the big boys, we don't have the resources for that kind of marketing," Wellenzohn said. "We're too small. We're struggling right now. If it weren't for our merchandise sales we'd be in trouble."

Batavia has succeeded because of its catchy Muckdogs nickname and a unique and attractive logo that has proven to be a hit with younger fans. The Muckdogs have spawned youth baseball and Little League teams in its image that sport Muckdogs hats, jersey and other gear. For that reason, the team only puts "Muckdogs" on its merchandise; the name Batavia is left off.

"The design is really a neat looking design and the name is a hard-edged kind of name," said Wellenzohn, who was hired to help boost attendance after a brief stint as president of Long Beach in the independent Golden League followed five years as GM of fellow NY-Penn League affiliate Jamestown. "It caught the attention of kids. We do a lot of sales on the Internet."

Batavia's success gives credence to why so many clubs are putting extra effort and resources into designing and marketing a unique logo and team identity. The proof is in the profits: a hit logo is arguably the most successful way to generate sales from beyond a team's local fan base.

"We always ask teams going in if this is going to be a national brand or a local brand," said Plan B. Branding partner Jason Klein, whose company has re-designed many team logos and images. "We worked with Clearwater (before the 2007 season) and they wanted to do a national brand. They said they wanted Little League clubs across the U.S. to want to be called the Threshers. Others may say we want to be a localized identity, which makes tons of sense to the locals but may feel off to the national population."

While Batavia is the smallest market among the top 25 licensing teams, it is hardly the only one. The Carolina Mudcats play in tiny Zebulon, N.C., which has a population of 4,218 yet ranked in the top 25 (Minor League Baseball does not release actual team sales figures and does not list the clubs in the order of financial ranking).

Nor is Batavia the only team to succeed at the register despite paltry attendance figures. Tucson has ranked last in attendance in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in each of the past two seasons and was among the bottom three the pervious two years, yet the Sidewinders ranked among the top 25 licensing teams in three of the past four years.

Roughly 10 teams had released new logos by mid-November. The teams vary in size and strategy—the Rookie-level Casper Ghosts went with a gimmicky glow-in-the-dark look while the Double-A Birmingham Barons chose a more traditional look that represents the team's history.

Going Hollywood

Lancaster general manager Brad Seymour was in the midst of planning how to market the release of the JetHawks' new logo when his phone rang with the answer.

Lancaster was invited to have its baseball cap be displayed prominently as a clue to a murder mystery on the NBC television show "Life." The episode, which appeared in mid November, aired just weeks after Lancaster's release date and also featured the hats of fellow California League affiliates Bakersfield, Modesto, Stockton and Visalia.

"It's great exposure for an identity we just released," Seymour said. "It came at a perfect time."

The JetHawks are hardly novices in the television industry. Located just 45 minutes from Hollywood, the team's ballpark has been the site of Super Bowl commercials, music videos and even a few feature films. John Larroquette sported the team's hat in several episodes of the Hallmark Channel's series "McBride."

"It's just a product of being in Hollywood's backyard," Seymour said.

The logo, designed by Studio Simon, marks Lancaster's first change since 2001 and the new image gives the JetHawks "a sleeker, more professional look," Seymour said.

Cook Will Be Missed

Rookie-level Burlington (Appalachian) recently lost one of biggest supporters when Ann Cook passed away after an eight-month battle with lung cancer.

Cook was a fixture in the stands at Burlington Athletic Stadium since the mid-1980s and a founder of the team's booster club. Cook cared for players who often were away from home for the first time by opening up her house and developing relationships with their families—she was known to send news clippings to players' parents who could not attend games.

"She certainly had a passion for baseball, but even more than baseball, I just saw her as having a passion for the players as far as being their mom away from home," Burlington Royals Booster Club treasurer Laura Mitchell told the Burlington Times News. "She just really tried to make sure that Burlington was their home away from home."

Kristi Parker, who sings "Green Acres" at Royals home games, recounted to the Times News a trip she took to Texas with Cook to see the Indians play the Rangers.

"(There was) Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez and one of the Giles boys," Parker said. "They saw (Cook) and their faces lit up as soon as they saw her. Those big, professional baseball players loved Ann Cook. The reason, I guess, is that she genuinely loved all of the players that came through here."

QUICK HITS

• The San Jose City Council approved a five-year lease for the San Jose Giants (California) to remain at Municipal Stadium. It also will allow the Giants to make stadium improvements and sell naming rights to fund the team through 2013. The Giants have thrived at the gate in recent years, increasing attendance by almost 15,000 over the past two seasons. Whether they stay in San Jose still remains a question. The Giants could be forced to move if the Oakland Athletics move to neighboring Fremont, Calif.

• The Greensboro Grasshoppers (South Atlantic) reached a 10-year naming rights deal with NewBridge Bank, which formed as a merger between LSB Bank and FNB Southeast. The Grasshoppers' stadium had been known as First Horizon Park.