April 1, 2011

Do sports fans live in caves?

Just yesterday, I found out about a Major League Baseball promotion that will put two fans in a Greenwich, NYC apartment equipped with enough televisions for them to watch every regular season and playoff game for the upcoming season. Of course, they won't technically live in the apartment, but will be there to watch games from 1:05pm start times on the east coast to the 7:35pm starts on the west coast.
The promotion is called "The MLB Fan Cave," which is a reference to the 15,000 square foot, glass-walled apartment space designed by one of the lead designers of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The apartment will not only feature the two fans all season long, but will also house studio space for television interviews and drop-ins from major league players. There will also be set-ups for Internet chats, video games, and fantasy baseball referendums as well as a barbershop, tattoo parlor, pitching alley, batting cage, Pepsi-sponsored 1950s-themed restaurant, DJ booth, MLB store, graffiti wall, Steiner Sports collectibles area, and multiple fan-viewing areas that emulate "Pepsi Porches" installed in various MLB stadiums.

The Apartment Design Layout.

The two fans - a musician from NY and an actor from Baltimore - take in
the first pitch of the 2011 season. The lucky winners were plucked from nearly 10,000 entries.

Both the promotion and the cave have a variety of interesting elements to consider. First, MLB gets on the man-cave bandwagon by channeling the name "cave" to frame the space as a masculine domain. Of course, there are female baseball fans and I wonder whether or not MLB considered their place in a cave, especially since the MLB press release refers to the two winners as "cavemen," and in several videos, the two winners introduce themselves as "caveman" and "wingman."

The two "cavemen" will  watch all 2,430 regular season games, as well as
each playoff game. That's slightly less than all the games that 
Cal Ripken played consecutively from 1982-1998.

Second, the multi-screen setup is an interesting development in sports viewing that is just about reaching its zenith. Just by having multiple games on at once makes me wonder what kind of watching is happening and what kind of fandom is being cultivated. In other words, is a multi-screen setup indicative of the marriage of sports fandom and fantasy sports leagues - where the investment in watching a single game is less important than catching just the pitching performances or at-bats of your fantasy players in a slew of games.

Finally, from a promotional standpoint, kudos to MLB for extending the spectacle and making fans wonder about which is the superior option: attending the game or sitting in a cave.

You can watch videos from the cave here. And of course they are on Twitter and Facebook.

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