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Check Out Line: Play on Fenway Park grass … in your yard

January 20, 2010

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Check out where Scotts is staking out new turf.

ScottsMiracle-Gro, the No. 1 U.S. lawn-care company, is taking a swing at winning over baseball fans with its latest sponsorship deal, which allows customers to buy the same grass seed and fertilizer used to grow the lush, green fields at the ballparks of such teams as the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.

Scotts has signed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal with Major League Baseball that includes licensed products, baseball-themed advertising and partnerships with eight of the teams. A source close to the deal who asked not to be identified said Scotts’ annual commitments are in the high seven figures, with overall spending on baseball in the eight figures.

“It’s a powerful feeling when you walk through the concourse and see that emerald green field in front of you,” Scotts brand manager John Price said of entering a ballpark.

“I don’t mean to get Field of Dreams-ish, but it’s a powerful emotion for consumers and really tapping into that emotion and showing off what Scotts products can do, there’s no better product showcase than that,” he said in a telephone interview.

MLB officials are also excited, given how the weak economy has hurt corporate spending on sponsorships. They expect 2010 league sponsorship revenue to rise double-digits percentage wise.

“The sponsorship environment is flat out tougher than it ever has been in the last 10 years,” said Tim Brosnan, MLB’s executive vice president of business. “This speaks volumes about the health of our brand.”

Under the deal, in early April Scotts will begin selling grass seed blends and fertilizers featured in such iconic parks as Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, respective homes of the Cubs and Red Sox, as well as venues for the Cincinnati Reds (pictured), St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies.

If those products sell well, will seeds for Yankee and Dodger Stadiums be far behind? Price says maybe so.

Brosnan said it will offer a great opportunity for Scotts to reach out to consumers.

“There are certain icons that are inseparable from baseball,” he said. “The field of play is one of them. Our clubs own the 30 nicest lawns in the neighborhood, indisputably.”

Scotts, which also has deals with NASCAR and the University of Florida’s sports programs, said this is the company’s biggest sports sponsorship deal and will be backed with a “significant” media commitment with the sport’s TV and radio broadcast partners.

Also in the basket:

Buffett against Kraft’s Cadbury buy

Amazon ups royalty on low-cost books sold on Kindle

Coach profit tops view but shares sink

Chili’s parent Brinker beats Street, shares rise

Swatch Group latest watchmaker to hit upbeat note

(Photo courtesy of Scotts)

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