My beloved New York Yankees, even though they didn’t make the playoffs again this year, had two interesting announcements last week. First, early in the week, they announced plans for improvements to Yankee Stadium and later in the week, a similar announcement for Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, their spring training home.
Obviously, the same planning team was likely involved in both projects, so the themes are consistent. In Tampa, the improvements include new cabana and club areas, as well as a two-story gift store. In The Bronx, the enhancements will be dramatic and include new party decks, a sports lounge, bullpen landings, and an area for kids. All of these additions are already sponsored, driving more revenue for the Yankees before they even open.
However, what I found most interesting was the language that was used in both announcements.
“Fan friendly” and “socially-oriented” stuck out.
The message relating to these improvements is similar to the way landlords are marketing new features in office buildings. Amenities focused on the employee/tenant experience, many of which have nothing to do with actual work, are the current trend. Similarly, the Yankees' improvements are not about the game, but rather the experience.
The Yankees are adding areas for people to congregate with their friends, watch the game, and enjoy The Stadium experience someplace other than their seat. Landlords are adding tenant lounges with soft seating and Wi-Fi to give people a place to work other than their desk. The Yankees are adding more food options and a kids’ area. Does this sound like a landlord enhancing the café and adding day care?
The Yankees understand that simply putting the same product on the field won’t cut it anymore. There’ are too many options in the New York area for people’s entertainment spending, the same way there are always plenty of options for tenants seeking office space. The Yankees pride themselves on being a model franchise. While the product on the field has not lived up to expectations in recent years, an investment to give fans another reason to come to The Stadium is wise.
Would landlords be adding these amenities if there weren’t a financial benefit? No. Would the Yankees be doing the same if they didn’t think they were going to make more money? Again, the answer is no. It’s certainly not an altruistic exercise in either case. That said, I applaud the Yankees for their effort, as I will benefit from a better fan experience the same way I appreciate the recent upgrades to the café in the office building where I work.
Now, if the Yankees could add a starting pitcher or two in the off-season, I would be even happier.