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Farragut Baseball, Inc. seeks sponsors


To keep Farragut Baseball, Inc. functioning up to recent years standards in 2009, roughly $50,000 is needed from sponsors.

The goal is simple for an organization of more than 1,000 children ages 4 to 13 in seven leagues (83 teams) during 2008. “To get a sponsor for each team,” FB, Inc. president Jonathan Watkins said, adding sponsors are required from Machine Pitch League, age 7, upward. “Sponsor fees are a tremendous help for us.”

Registration fees, the lifeblood of FB, Inc.’s non-sponsorship funding, runs from $90 (T-Ball, ages 3-4) to $140 (Sandy Koufax League, 13-14).

With a roughly $200,000 yearly budget, “The registration fees cover about 75 percent of the expenses,” Watkins said, “So we have to have sponsorships in order to cover the rest.”


Watkins said FB, Inc. also gets “a little labor” help from Knox County and some materials donations from sponsors.

For new sponsors, a cost of $450 covers both spring and fall seasons. However, “a returning sponsor pays only $350,” Watkins said.

What do sponsors get out of it? “They will get their name on the back of their team’s jersey,” their 3-foot-by-6 banner “that’s going to get hung up on the outfield fence, that will hang there for the spring season as well as the fall season,” Watkins said. “And we feature all our sponsors on our Web site where you can actually click on their names and go directly to their Web site.” Also included is a plaque with the sponsor’s team picture embedded.

Also offered to a given sponsor is an exclusive sponsorship right to a field. Cost is $5,000. “There’s all kinds of sponsorships,” Watkins said. A “banners only sponsorship” is $200. “Sitting in the bleachers you can see every sponsors’ [banners] easily.”

With the current economic struggles nationwide, “We’re afraid that it could even be harder this year to find sponsors,” Watkins said. “Families are struggling to pay registration fees for sports. We’re trying to keep those costs down as much as possible.”

The league does offer “scholarships” that anonymously pay all equipment/uniforms, registration and insurance fees for all young baseball players (except for gloves) whose families show proof of financial hardships “with a little bit of background” checking.

In 2008, Watkins estimated “about 10” of the “over 1,000” children ages 5 to 14 playing spring season used scholarships. Roughly 400 to 450 played during fall.

Though not required for T-Ball and Coach Toss (ages 5-6) leagues, “We encourage sponsors for the younger ages,” Watkins said.

Watkins said early indications are the 2009 spring season will have roughly the same number of children, “and possibly more than that based on the early” application returns. Spring season registration and sponsorships sign-ups deadline runs through Feb. 21.

The new president said each teams has about “10 to 11” players. “You don’t know the exact number of teams until all registrations are turned in,” he said.

Other spring registration costs include $110 for Coach Toss League. “Basically, each [older] league goes up $10,” Watkins said.

Other leagues are Roberto Clemente (8), Willie Mays (9-10) and Pee Wee Reese (11-12).

Fall registration costs “are quite a bit less expensive,” Watkins said, but added those costs have yet to be determined.

The new president said FB, Inc. doesn’t “ask our children to go door-to-door selling stuff” to raise funds, adding his organization doesn’t want to “intrude” on children’s school-rated fund drives.



For the spring and fall leagues in 2008, of 83 total teams participating “we were only able to get 60 sponsorships,” Watkins said.

However, the organization not only meet expenses but also set aside about $10,000 for two projects that also depended on sponsorship materials donations and Knox County labor.

One is placing “safety netting” high above the left field fence between “Top of the Hill” Field 4 to keep home run balls from entering Field 5.

The other is a new concession stand between Field 7 and 8 at the Coach Toss and T-Ball League complex adjacent to Fort Loudoun Lake.

 

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