Sports are generally what you get when you read the sports page. But these days news about the economic downturn (we will refrain from calling it a collapse) has migrated from the business page to the front page and now to the sports section.
News reports in recent weeks from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere predict impacts in sports that range from small to dramatic. Support for new stadiums may decline and marketing deals to name those stadiums also are slowing.
Will the economy impact the Cape Cod Baseball League? I don't think so. At least not very much.
The Cape League operates in a niche that, in my view, is largely recession-resistant. Its teams have small, efficient front offices, therefore, they have low overhead expenses. There are no expensive player or coaching contracts. The ballparks are sized appropriately to consumer demand and they are multi-use facilities so others can share the cost of capital and operations, unlike a Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.
Most importantly, the Cape League is situated in one of the most affluent tourism locations in the country. Those who can afford to vacation on Cape Cod, are unlikely to cancel vacations and long weekends on the Cape. Further, how many regions of the country have the baseball fan base of the Red Sox Nation? These people are going to the Cape and they are going to watch local baseball (while also tuning into the Sox game!)
And another thing. In rough economic times, people want cheap entertainment, and they don't want to travel far to get it. Where else can you see future major leaguers run around the bases in your town for almost nothing?
Sponsors are mostly home-grown. In other words, advertisers from the town know that a dollar spent in the local ballpark is reaching the intended audience.
There are areas, however, where an economic downturn can hurt the league and teams. Capital projects, like new ballparks or expansions, may be put off or even cancelled. If a team is for sale or anticipating bringing in new owners, those plans could end up on ice until things improve.
Under Armour, a big Cape sponsor, is an industry leader. While it's a consumer business that almost certainly will feel the decline in consumer confidence, their investment in the Cape League's All-Star game is a smart one. I would anticipate they increase rather than decrease their visibility.
Look for me next summer along the baselines. I'll have an extra hot dog and a brand new Anglers cap.