(Bloomberg) -- Companies have been promising flexibility, offering networking opportunities and dropping vaccine requirements to try and lure workers back to the office. Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners are taking a different tack, hosting their first “Work From the Ballpark” game this week in an attempt to entice baseball fans away from their desks.
The Major League Baseball franchise sold out of the 150 passes available for the afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox, where for $50 fans got WiFi, power access and a catered lunch at an on-site cafe.
“We received overwhelming positive fan feedback and we are exploring ways to build upon this concept in the future,” a Mariners spokesperson said in an email. The Mariners’s gambit has been popular on social media, with fans tagging their respective franchises on Twitter asking them to follow suit. But not everyone was sold on the idea: “When I go to a ballgame,” wrote one fan, “I go to leave the rest of the world behind.”
The concept isn’t without precedent: In 2018, the Colorado Rockies advertised a “Business Person Special” that included food, WiFi and a spot with a small ledge for a laptop on a standing-room-only rooftop for $21, per the Denver Post. But Wednesday’s Mariners game appears to be a first for a Major League Baseball team since the pandemic upended work and turned bedrooms into home offices.
The move may presage a growing trend of sports stadiums and arenas getting into coworking.
In June, KPMG LLP unveiled a new, specialized office suite at Washington, D.C.’s Capital One Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals and the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards. The suite is set up with full-length video walls and interactive screens for meetings and presentations, and KPMG employees can host clients during sports games and other events — or even when there’s nothing on at the arena.
Capital One Arena’s management firm is currently in talks with other companies interested in investing in similar box suites-turned-office-spaces.
Meanwhile, office landlords have turned to raffling football tickets to tempt workers back to their desks. Employees of tenants in Manhattan landlord GFP Real Estate’s buildings can enter to win tickets to New York Giants and Jets games. The catch: they have to show up to the office and scan a QR code to get a ticket.
Read More: Want to Win Free Giants, Jets Tickets? New York Landlord Says Just Show Up to Work
For the Mariners, the clever marketing could potentially draw more fans and revenue to its mid-week, mid-afternoon games. But some say the branding was just barely shy of the strike zone. As Blake Lawrence, an athlete marketing executive, noted on Twitter, the team “missed the chance to call the event ‘Work from Homeplate.’”
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