As expected, the Mitchell Report, released on December 13, implicated several Major League baseball stars like Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada in the use or posession of steroids. Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey reacted by lamenting that “We were robbed of an entire era of baseball.”
But were we really?
I think the Major League Baseball brand is doing quite well, thank you.
Even as rumors of rampant steroid abuse have intensified year after year, fans keep coming to the ballpark. In fact, regular season attendance in 2007 broke the overall single-season record for the fourth-consecutive year. Why?
Because MLB long ago redefined its brand, that’s why.
MLB doesn’t even bank on player appeal anymore — MLB sells an experience now, witnessed by the explosive growth of stunning new stadiums and relentless merchandising. It’s not enough to merchandise “home” and “away” jerseys anymore to the fans — now its all about vintage merchandise and alernative contemporary uniforms to complement any fashion style.
What would really hurt the MLB brand? Not revelations of steroid abuse. Try banning beer sales from he world’s largest outdoor bar, Wrigley Field, or remove the swimming pool from the stands in Chase Field, where the Arizona Diamondbacks play. The fans would scream bloody murder. Why? Because swimming pools and beer are part of the experience that MLB sells.
The baseball players on the field are just fodder for fantasy league statistics.