Boeing Cubs? Kroger Reds? What MLB Teams Would Look Like if Corporate Sponsors Got Naming Rights

Editor note: Today’s post is by AMSTS’ newest contributor, “AirBall”. 

Japanese baseball is a blast – I recommend taking in a game if you ever have the chance. The crowd is incredibly committed, and if you’re not Japanese you’ll probably be on the Jumbotron a few times. The best part? You’ll be able to watch the players of your childhood jogging around the bases (I’m looking at you, Tuffy Rhodes). I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the Yomiuri Giants beat the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the Tokyo Dome. But where is Yomiuri? And what is a “Nippon-Ham Fighter”?

 

nipponham

 

It turns out that baseball teams in Japan take on the name of their corporate owners – Yomiuri is mixed media company and Nippon-Ham is a packaged food producer. Teams are owned and named by a wide variety of companies – The Yakult Swallows are owned by a yogurt beverage conglomerate, and the Hiroshima Toyo Carp are partially owned by Mazda’s parent company.

 

This got me thinking… what would Major League Baseball look like if corporate sponsors got a chance to put their spin on team names? Could there be a Harley-Davidson funded Brewers franchise? Perhaps Apple would back the Giants? I brought the pieces together to get an idea of who would likely be sponsoring each team. Using a weighted-by-revenue Fortune 500 and combining it with geolocation data to calculate the as-the-crow-flies distance to each teams stadium, I was able to get a pretty idea of what we might expect. And I’ll be honest,: I just guessed for Toronto.

 

A few MLB cities don’t have many or any large Fortune 500 companies – Kansas City, Baltimore, Tampa, Denver – and a few companies are so huge they have an almost nationwide gravitational pull. For example, both Chicago teams and Milwaukee could easily be sponsored by Boeing. Berkshire Hathaway makes a run at Colorado all the way from Omaha. Wal-Mart (based in centrally located Bentonville, Arkansas) got tapped for sponsorships on three MLB teams through their sheer size. Luckily, we aren’t likely to be subjected to the Wal-Mart Royals, the Wal-Mart Cardinals – and in an amazing feat of Tampa Bay’s corporate feebleness, the Wal-Mart sponsored Rays (from 899 miles away).

 

Rays

 

In the final cut below, I’ve required each team’s sponsor to be based within 50 miles of the team’s stadium, and I’ve broken down Boeing’s monopoly on Chicagoland. Incredibly, only one of the real-life stadium naming rights overlap with this list (Target/Minnesota)

 

Can you imagine a world where people cheering for the Sherwin-Williams Indians or the Freeport-McMoRan Diamondbacks… or the Comcast Phillies? Nonetheless, some of these don’t seem that unrealistic – the Dodgers by Disney, Coca-Cola Braves and the Target Twins. Changing “The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” to “The Ingram Micro Angels of Anaheim” doesn’t even add any additional words.

 

dodgers

 

My only regret is that Major League Baseball itself isn’t on the Fortune 500 – they would make a great sponsor for the Yankees.

 

See below for the full list:

Sponsor
Name
City
Distance (Miles)
F-500 Rank
Amazon.com
Mariners
Seattle
1.4
29
Boeing
Cubs
Chicago
4.5
27
Chevron
Athletics
Oakland
13.0
3
Coca-Cola
Braves
Atlanta
0.7
63
Comcast
Phillies
Philadelphia
0.4
43
DaVita HealthCare
Rockies
Colorado
2.1
231
Disney
Dodgers
Los Angeles
7.3
57
Enterprise Products
Astros
Houston
0.2
59
Express Scripts
Cardinals
St. Louis
0.5
22
Exxon Mobil
Rangers
Texas
12.3
2
Fannie Mae
Nationals
Washington
7.7
17
Freeport-McMoRan
Diamondbacks
Arizona
2.0
137
General Motors
Tigers
Detroit
1.6
6
Ingram Micro
Angels
Anaheim
5.9
62
JP Morgan Chase
Yankees
New York
5.0
21
Kroger
Reds
Cincinnati
0.3
20
Liberty Mutual
Red Sox
Boston
1.4
78
Lockheed Martin
Orioles
Baltimore
32.9
64
McKesson
Giants
San Francisco
0.9
11
Northwestern Mutual
Brewers
Milwaukee
0.3
109
Royal Bank of Canada
BlueJays
Toronto
0.4
0
Seaboard
Royals
Kansas City
8.7
417
Sempra Energy
Padres
San Diego
2.5
270
Sherwin-Williams
Indians
Cleveland
0.3
266
Target
Twins
Minnesota
0.8
36
Tech Data
Rays
Tampa Bay
10.9
107
United Airlines
White Sox
Chicago
3.3
79
United States Steel
Pirates
Pittsburgh
1.6
176
Verizon
Mets
New York
9.3
15
World Fuel Services
Marlins
Miami
12.3
68