Limited founding partners means fewer signs at Suplizio

Fewer partners. Greater cost but greater exposure. Multiyear commitments.

That’s what the Grand Junction Rockies were selling to area businesses as the Rookie League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies sought founding partners to help fund the organization in its inaugural season in Grand Junction.

Grand Junction Rockies General Manager Tim Ray landed nine such partners:

■ Community Hospital

■ The Ale House

■ Grand Junction Subaru

■ City Market

■ Alpine Bank

■ Wienerschnitzel

■ Pepsi

■ Coors Light

■ CenturyLink

Ray declined to say how much it cost to become a founding partner, and the partners contacted for this story declined to reveal dollar figures.

Ray said a founding partner had to make more than a one-year commitment, and the Rockies received commitments for as long as five years.

The founding partners will be the only businesses with signs on Suplizio Field’s outfield wall, and that’s by design.

“We have a different philosophy that less is more,” Ray said on June 11, the first day of Rockies practice.

At that time, the outfield wall still was covered by the signs of business sponsors of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

“For instance, when you look out here, you see roughly 40, 45 billboards along the outfield wall,” Ray said. “We like to think, again, that less is more. And so, instead of a client coming out and saying, ‘OK, I bought a sign. Where am I at?’ We want to make sure that we’re maximizing the visibility for our partners. So, you won’t see a whole lot of signage out here.”

Shawn Harrison, general sales manager at Grand Junction Subaru, 2496 U.S. Highway 6&50, said the car dealership is excited to partner with the Rockies.

“We thought it was a pretty big ticket in town,” he said. “We thought it was going to be good for the community. I think it’s going to be a revenue stream for the city.”

Grand Junction Subaru contracted with the Rockies for three years, with an option of first right of refusal after that, Harrison said. The car dealer expects to benefit from the exposure at games, and Harrison anticipates the area will embrace the team.

“It’s a brand-recognition-type deal,” he said. “Obviously the (Colorado) Rockies brand in this community is strong.”

Sponsoring local sports is one way The Ale House gets its name out in the community, according to Brian Oliver, general manager of the restaurant and bar at 2531 N. 12th St.

Oliver heard talk of pro baseball coming to Grand Junction in past years, and it never materialized. Then came last year’s talk of the Casper (Wyo.) Ghosts moving to Grand Junction, which became reality to the delight of Oliver.

“When it came our turn to be a part of it, we welcomed it with open arms,” he said of becoming a founding partner. “We hope to be partners for years to come. We did this because we believe it’s going to be big for the community, going to be a big success.”

The Ale House will have its sign on the outfield wall, but its visibility won’t stop there. It will sell one of its Breckenridge Brewery beers, Agave Wheat, at the ballpark.

The Ale House also will promote the team with pregame and postgame specials and ticket giveaways, Oliver said.

Less is more for the sponsors’ exposure, but what about the Rockies? Do they receive enough funding?

“We’re right at our goal,” Ray said.

The expenses are many to operate a minor-league baseball team, and in a bus league like the Pioneer League, which has the Rockies playing four teams in Montana, travel costs add up fast with fuel and hotel rooms for 40 to 45 people, plus feeding them during road trips that can be seven to eight days.

“Minor-league baseball, it’s a very expensive sport to run,” Ray said. “We are on an extremely tight budget, so we have to be very careful with every penny we spend.”

Businesses can still get involved with the Rockies. To find out how, call the office at 255-ROCK (7625).

“If anybody wants to be involved, we certainly have promotional opportunities for them still yet,” Ray said, citing examples such as concourse signage and giveaways for fans.


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