Upon its inception, the MLB Fan Cave was considered the innovative invention in baseball that would allow fans to interact with players like never before. Initially launched in 2011, the ‘cave’ (located on 4th Street and Broadway in New York) was an attempt to bring the social media realm and avid baseball fans together under one roof. The inhabitants, affectionately referred to as ‘cave dwellers’, recorded their experiences through social media, blogs, and videos, as well as hosting concerts, fan events, and celebrity guests. In its initial phases, MLB Exec. Tim Brosnan describe ‘The Cave’ as follows:
“The MLB Fan Cave grew out of our desire to address three specific areas in which we saw opportunity for growth: engaging with fans via social media, both at the league level and through players; reaching younger fans and converting casual baseball fans into more avid followers; and raising the profile of our players by showcasing their off-field personalities.” —Tim Brosnan, MLB Executive Vice President of Business
While the Fan Cave enjoyed 4 solid years to successful social interaction, it was announced that it would be shut down in February 2015. Statements released stated that ceasing the program was part of the MLB’s attempt to consolidate all social media activities under the MLB Advanced Media and MLB Network umbrellas. This leaves individuals with one lingering question: Was the endeavor a failure?
In my personal opinion, it was anything but. The MLB Fan Cave gave fans the chance to see baseball heaven personified. The images still burn bright in my memory of iconic players like David Ortiz, Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, and many others taking time out of their busy schedules to stop by and talk baseball with their beloved constituents. If anything, the MLB Fan Cave was a tremendous tool in the sense that it linked baseball fans to the human element of the brand. I followed their Facebook page religiously; always awaiting the next awesome experience that would take place within its confines. The MLB Fan Cave used Facebook to target a younger demographic (and succeeded), elevated the status of baseball’s star players, and positioned the game as once again relevant to pop culture. Statistics heavily support my claims. At its end, the Fan Cave had around 1,008,000 Facebook fans and 200,000+ Twitter followers. There was also a great deal of sports journalism buzz, being featured in prints like The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. The project may have cave-d in, but the success was both innovative and measurable. While baseball has conglomerated all of its social media operations into a much more simplified entity, I sure wish they’d revisit the days like these.
Drive Home Safely,
Bryan White, MBA