MLB Explores Tarps for Empty Seats

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    • Sponsored tarps over empty seats could help offset revenue losses from playing in empty stadiums.

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As teams seek new revenue while seasons start without fans, an FOS Exclusive by Danni Santana looks into an MLB proposal to cover those empty seats with sponsored tarps. In 2019, 11% of league revenue came from sponsorships, while this year owners say they’ll lose more than $600,000 for every game played without fans.

Data firm Nielsen confirmed it is working with multiple professional leagues and teams to explore new revenue-generating opportunities. The tarp idea isn’t wholly new, as MLB teams have put brands like Reynolds Wrap, Glad, Bounty and Skittles on their on-field tarps for rain delays.

Still, without fully understanding how empty stadiums will appear on broadcasts, the tarp-over-seat values may be tough to pin down. “It’ll be hard for both the brands and the teams to put a value against those assets until we fully understand the new broadcast landscape,” Steve McNelley, senior vice president of consulting at marketing firm rEvolution, told FOS.