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Jeter Staying With Yankees Will Benefit Both Sides

New York Post, November 04, 2010

By Brian Costello

Both the Yankees and Derek Jeter have now made it clear that their upcoming negotiations are as much about business as they are about baseball.

The business relationship between Jeter and the Yankees has been a profitable one for both sides since he became an everyday player in 1996, and sports marketing experts say that is a reason why this marriage will continue.

“Both parties want each other, both parties need each other, and both parties benefit from each other,” said Marc Ganis, the president of Sportscorp, a sports business consulting firm. “That means as long as the parties are remotely reasonable with each other, they’ll get a deal done. It will be more of an accommodation, rather than a hardball negotiation.”

Vote on Jeter's Future

The contract negotiations are going to center around on-base percentage, defensive range and runs scored, but they are also going to be about what Jeter does off the field. It is impossible to put a dollar value on Jeter’s marketability, but he has become the most recognizable Yankee through not just his play but his commercials.

A company called The Marketing Arm produces DBI scores, an index for marketers and agencies to determine a celebrity’s marketability. Jeter ranks No. 353 among the more than 2,600 celebrities the company ranks — and higher than any current or former baseball player. Several measurements comprise the score. One of them is “awareness.” More than 82 percent of the U.S. consumers they polled recognize Jeter’s face or name. That is more than Alex Rodriguez (75 percent) or CC Sabathia (35 percent).

Jeter’s awareness score is on par with people like Sting, Charles Barkley, Jesse Jackson, Larry Bird and the Jonas Brothers. He also scored high on their “aspirational” measurement, which asks consumers if the celebrity has a life to which they would aspire. He scored in the same neighborhood as Willie Mays, Michael J. Fox and David Beckham. Jeter scored particularly high with males in this category.

“His off-the-field value certainly to this point has been very strong,” said Matt Delzell, a director at The Marketing Arm. “You talk about the face of arguably the most recognized, respected franchise in the world. At the same time, he’s kept his nose very clean. For him to be in New York, and get the kind of coverage he gets, and not have a Tiger Woods or Brett Favre-type of thing come out about him is very impressive.”

Jeter also has been turned into a team spokesman through the years.

“He’s been the one the team has been able to turn to for big events like the death of George Steinbrenner, or saying goodbye to the fans at the old stadium,” Ganis said. “They know he’ll say the right things, say it with sincerity. The fact that he has great credibility with the fans, the media and the sponsors is tremendously valuable.”

Jeter needs the Yankees as much, or more, than the Yankees need him in terms of marketability. Tigers shortstop Derek Jeter does not sound as appealing to sponsors as Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

“It’s not the kind of thing that his agent could go to another team and say, ‘Look, I could deliver this package of intangible assets to you,’ ” Ganis said. “It’s not transferable. It benefits Jeter only when he’s with the Yankees and it benefits the Yankees only when they have Jeter.”

The Yankees must also consider Jeter’s value to the franchise beyond his playing days. A messy divorce right now could prevent Jeter from returning to Yankee Stadium after his retirement. If this goes well, he will become the newest legend they bring out for a big event.

“He’s then a permanent ambassador for the team,” said Jim Andrews, the senior vice president of IEG, LLC. “That will go on probably for as long as he lives. He becomes somebody like a Yogi Berra or a Whitey Ford, someone who is associated with the Yankees. He’s much more valuable to the Yankees longer term if he plays his entire career there.”