Ripken Stadium’s name may soon be a little longer, but it will still bear the name of the Orioles legend, Ripken Baseball officials said this week.
The organization said it plans to sell naming rights to the ballpark over the next few months, the latest move in what representatives called an ongoing re-branding of the 12-year-old facility and its minor league team, the Aberdeen IronBirds.
Ripken Baseball seeks a multi-year contract which would pay the organization “six figures” annually, said Colin Clark, its vice president of brand marketing; he declined to discuss exact financial goals for the sale.
“We have 10 years of equity build into it, and we want to layer in a partner’s name,” Clark said. “It’s a little different than other ballparks—there’s only one Cal Ripken.”
The move came as a surprise to city and county officials; Harford County Director of Economic Development Jim Richardson and Aberdeen City Manager Doug Miller said they only learned of Ripken Baseball’s intentions via media coverage and inquiries from The Dagger this week.
However, Miller said that the concession agreement between the City of Aberdeen and Ripken Baseball allows the company to sell naming rights to the stadium, but not to remove the Ripken name from it, and does not require them to inform the city of their intention to do so.
“It will always be Ripken Stadium,” he said. “They have the right to say it’s Ripken Stadium at ABC Field.”
Any revenue gained from the sale would be the team’s alone; under the agreement, the city recoups costs through other mechanisms such as an infrastructure fee attached to non-IronBirds events held at the stadium. In addition to the association with the Ripken name, Richardson said the sale also offers a potential buyer valuable signage for band banners and advertising space along the portion of the stadium facing Interstate 95.
Clark said the move is another facet of Ripken Baseball’s ongoing attempts to rebrand and “relaunch” the stadium and the IronBirds. Other recent changes have included tweaks to the team’s color scheme and the facility’s own colors to more fully embrace that of their big-league parent, as well as Natty Boh and Sam Adams branded food venues at the stadium. Clark said the changes and updates may have made an impact, as the team’s year-over-year turnstile numbers have risen.
“Over the last two seasons, we’ve been doing a lot of updates,” Clark said. “The city has been a greater partner in that and this is an extension of that.”
Clark said the organization hopes to have a name sponsor in place by the beginning of the IronBirds season next summer.