Target steps up as Major League Baseball sponsor

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 11, 2014 - 6:19 AM

The new deal may help the retailer’s image after the data breach, one analyst said.

The All-Star Game is coming to Target Field in Minneapolis this year.

Photo: David Joles • Star Tribune file,

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Target has become a sponsor of Major League Baseball in a year when the All-Star Game will be played in Minneapolis.

The news, announced Monday on the company’s corporate blog, emerged months after the league announced in August 2012 that this year’s All-Star Game was coming to the company’s namesake Target Field.

The sponsorship is unusual for Target, said Brian Kelly, a retail analyst with Brian Brands in Chicago, and probably reflects part of its effort to rebuild its reputation following a hacker attack on its computers in December that exposed personal and financial information of tens of millions of consumers.

“Baseball, for Target’s brand, is pretty unexpected,” Kelly said. “It’s pretty middle-market for them, not a ‘Tar-zhay’ crazy fashion thing. But it’s probably what they need to do, because Middle America moms may be shy of going into Target stores after the credit card breach.”

A Target spokeswoman said the company’s relationship with the league has been in development since October. The company, which after the breach pulled back some advertising planned for last month’s Winter Olympics, decided to proceed with the baseball deal because it is tied to other corporate promotion and charitable work tied to education, a spokeswoman said.

With the sponsorship, Target will run an “All Star” schoolteacher contest via People Magazine with the help of two star baseball players, Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees and Adrian Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Target and Major League Baseball share a commitment to communities and recognize the role local leaders, including teachers, play in shaping future generations,” Target spokeswoman Jill Hornbacher said.

Kelly said the awards to teachers could appeal to mothers, whom Target considers its primary customers.

“The teacher initiative fits nicely with their primary cause, which is education,” he said.

Financial terms of Target’s baseball marketing agreement weren’t disclosed. Kelly estimated that the incremental cost to Target is probably $10 million to $12 million above what it would ordinarily spend during the summer, when retailing is typically slow.

Target, which operates about 1,900 stores in the United States and Canada, in 2008 signed a 25-year agreement for the naming rights to the new Minnesota Twins stadium.

With the new deal, it joins Major League Baseball’s current corporate sponsors, which include Chevrolet, Nike, Pepsi, Budweiser, Taco Bell, Bank of America, Gatorade, Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders and T-Mobile.


Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553

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