I’ve recently taken over a restaurant in North Portland, and I was thinking it would be fun to sponsor a Little League team, partly to be a good citizen but also as a promotional opportunity. Is that still a thing? Can I get my business name on the jerseys like in The Bad News Bears? —Mrs. Buttermaker
My first thought upon receiving your question, Mrs., was to wonder if Little League was even still a thing—it seems like exactly the kind of sepia-tinted childhood tradition that gets crushed by the advancing tide of modernity, like student smoking areas at public high schools and lawn darts.
I needn’t have worried. Unlike the practice of dads disconnecting all the seat belt alarms in the family car, Little League is still going strong. There are at least seven regional leagues operating within Portland’s city limits and more in the suburbs, any one of which would be more than happy to take your sponsorship dollars in exchange for the right to use strangers’ children as ambulatory billboards.
“We do put the business name on the back of the jersey, just like in The Bad News Bears,” confirms Kevin Nadolny, sponsorship director for North Portland Little League. “Our price is $500 for a team sponsorship, and we’re usually locking in sponsors in December and January.” Rates for the other regional leagues—Southeast Portland LL, Hollywood Rose City LL, etc.—are similar.
The leagues’ geographic boundaries determine which kids are eligible to play in which league, but you can sponsor a team from anywhere. That said, you’ll probably get more bang for your promotional buck by putting your business’s name in front of folks who already live in your neighborhood.
And, in my opinion, it’s a lot of bang. Sure, it’s not quite as baller as having your own NBA team, or even naming rights to a major arena. Still, where else can you turn yourself from a glorified fry cook into basically the Mark Cuban of North Dekum Street (or wherever) for half a grand?
Finally, the fun doesn’t stop when the testicles drop: There are also many deserving softball leagues for grown-ups in Portland. Team fees in these leagues are a bit more—around $1,000 a season—but if you make sure your establishment is the go-to place for after-game beers, I daresay you’ll recover your investment and then some.
Questions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.