By now we've all gotten used to the incursion of advertising in the sports world. There are ads plastered all over the stadiums and arenas, ads on NFL and NBA practice jerseys, ads on MLB outfield walls, ads on NHL ice, and so on. But there's one space that has remained an ad-free sanctuary: the baseball playing field.
That's the Rogers Centre in Toronto. And in case you can't make out that blurry mark near the right field line, here's a closer look. That's the AstroTurf logo alongside the MLB logo. They've been printed on the field (and also down the left field line) because of a new licensing agreement that makes AstroTurf the official synthetic turf of Major League Baseball.
That's not exactly the most prestigious designation, since only two MLB teams still use the fake grass (the Blue Jays and Rays). But AstroTurf will now start placing the two logos on the fields it sells to college and high school programs, which are the company's primary market.
Is a manufacturer's logo positioned in foul territory on one field a big deal? No. But we all know how this works -- the AstroTurf logo is a trial balloon to gauge how fans react and to get them used to seeing logos where they haven't appeared before. This type of thing only goes in one direction: more. So when you start seeing Visa ads behind home plate or the coaches' boxes being sponsored by Foot Locker, remember how it all started with AstroTurf in Toronto.