Craft Breweries Find Ballparks as Beacons of Marketing Opportunities

Baseball and beer have gone hand in hand for decades. Be it from major league ballparks, through the minors and into college venues, craft breweries see baseball venues as a way to increase market growth and exposure of the brand to not just craft beer fans, but also beer fans alike.

“Since craft beer is becoming less niche and more universally accepted, people want to have the option of enjoying flavorful, locally made, high quality beer when they visit the stadium,” said Great Lakes Brewing‘s Adam Ritterspach, the brewery’s Communications Coordinator. “Having our presence at such a beloved ballpark (Progressive Field in Cleveland, home of the Indians) has been great for us and the fans and we will certainly continue to pursue opportunities elsewhere.”

When Sun King Brewing in Indianapolis opened nearly a decade ago, co-founder and owner Clay Robinson wanted his brewery to be Indianapolis’ brewery.

Teaming with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians was a key to that.

“Like the majority of our relationships, they developed organically,” Robinson said. “My partner Dave [Colt] and I had a relationship with the ballpark from managing a relationship with a brewpub we work at prior to opening Sun King.”

So the foundation was in place and when the duo announced that Sun King would be canning, a contact at the Indy Indians reached out.

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“They brought our beer in and it sold really well, so the following year they added a large array of local products to complement the ballpark experience,” Robinson said. “As our sales grew, it gave us the opportunity to partner on advertising and sponsorship packages that give us greater exposure to fans. We’ve even added our own branded beer stands around the stadium and this season we have a co-branded food stand that features items prepared with our beer.”

At the end of last season, Robinson reported that Sun King made up around 25 percent of all beer sold at Victory Field.

“Baseball and beer go hand in hand, and the Indians have done a tremendous job of keeping the experience accessible to fans with reasonable ticket prices, as well as concession prices,” Robinson said. “Victory Field is located right in downtown Indianapolis and is an absolutely beautiful ballpark with a stunning view of the city. They have great family programming and attendance of over 600,000 people throughout the season. Our initial goal was to be Indianapolis’ beer, which has since shifted to be Indiana’s beer, so availability, presence, and exposure to baseball fans all summer long was a great boon for us.”

Great Lakes has leveraged itself into many venues around Cleveland and through its 13-state reach, including Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, and Columbus, Ohio’s Mapfre Stadium. Great Lakes beer is also available at several minor league and college stadiums and arenas.

In 2016 the Great Lakes Beer Garden at Progressive Field opened  after the brewery expanded from a draft cart and bottled offerings by opening a stand in the stadium’s Right Field District. GLBC beer can also be found around Quicken Loans Arena, home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. “With the demand for craft beer growing everywhere, we wanted to make sure we are seen as the beer of Cleveland inside the home of Cleveland’s team,” Ritterspach said.

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