By now, you’ve probably heard that the Mets have recently agreed to host Amway’s first- ever retail storefront at Citi Field, next to McFadden’s. As reported here by Howard Medgal, the Amway storefront opened last Saturday, February 23rd, and got very little attention. The Mets probably took great strides to make sure that this was the case. Coming off the stigma of the Madoff Ponzi scheme, it raises eyebrows that the Mets would choose to affiliate with a company that has been alleged to operate under the premise of pyramid marketing. Further, Amway recently settled a lawsuit, under which they were accused of pyramid marketing, for $155 million.
Amway’s sponsorship of professional sports teams is not unprecedented. The company had a sponsorship deal with the Detroit Red Wings in 2011. Amway’s name is also on the home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. So why does the deal with the Mets cause so much angst, derision, and general frustration among the fan base? Part of the reason could be that the team seems to be in a perpetual perception boxing match with the public, and leading with its chin. Many point to the opening of Citi Field, when the park was devoid of Mets’ history, and adorned in army green and black, two colors not at all associated with the team. Others point to formerly inflexible ticket-selling structure, where 15-game plan holders were forced to buy two or three less popular (such as Tuesdays in September) games to get 12 or 13 games on a day of their preference (such as Saturdays or Sundays). Another part of the reason may be that the fan base feels beaten down, after four consecutive losing seasons, and simply does not want the team to publically embarrass itself again. One thing is for sure. The Mets’ affiliation with Amway has opened the team up to harsh criticism, perhaps nothing more harsh than this quote from Deadspin, “The Mets continue to be the deadbeat, alcoholic uncle of the MLB family”.
What does all of this really mean? The Mets may have committed a P.R. blunder. But does that really matter? The last time I checked, no one is obligated to go into the Amway store before, during, or after a game, in the same way that there is no obligation to patronize McFadden’s or any other business. And, if Amway is paying rent and this provides an infusion of cash into the organization’s coffers, isn’t that a positive? Personally, I don’t care where the money comes from, I’m more concerned about where it’s spent. And if the money is spent wisely on players who can bring a championship to Queens, I’m happy. We should all be happy with that. Spring Training is a time to talk baseball. So let’s do that. Let’s focus on which combination makes the outfield the best it can be, when Zack Wheeler should come up, and who should be on the bench when the team goes north. The negativity can get old. This is the time for something new, a new season with new challenges and opportunities. Hopefully the mistakes of the past will not impact what is shaping up to be a bright future for The New York Mets.