Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rawlings' HQ: A Missed Opportunity

Back in 2003, Rawlings Sporting Goods began looking for a new location for its headquarters after 15 years in Fenton. The company scouted potential sites all over the region and was considering downtown, as a location near Busch Stadium would have been advantageous.

Said Rawlings’ CEO Stephen O'Hara of a downtown location, “When visiting teams are in they can come by the office. Our baseball players are our key relationship. They're our R&D department.”

It sounded like a win-win for the company and the city. I had envisioned a fun, whimsical facility (perhaps in Cupples Station) that would have welcomed visitors interested in learning more about Rawlings’ products and the company’s place in sports history. Displays of the Gold Gloves, the evolution of the baseball, that kind of thing. How cool!

Instead, in 2005, Rawlings decided on leasing 40,000 sf in (expletive deleted) Maryville Centre.

Wow, how imaginative. Talk about a missed opportunity.

Meanwhile, in Louisville, the Louisville Slugger Company actually embraced its history and that city’s downtown with the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum adorned with the “World’s Largest Bat.” The facility serves as the company’s headquarters and is a popular tourist attraction. Sure, Louisville Slugger could have easily put its offices in an anonymous suburban office park, but they chose to take a more creative route and the result is not only an improved public profile for the company, but an asset to the city as well.

Thanks for nothing, Rawlings.

The Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum:


Adam Flath said...

Wow, that deserves a WTF.

Maybe they figured they can reduce their R&D by giving candy to the little leaguers out there.

I dont fill bad for the city... I actually fill bad for the company even though they made a horrible choice.

Alan said...

I completely agree, and I emailed Rawlings to express my disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I am not surprised by this. St. Louis county people are the most small minded people in the whole country. They are too dumb to understand the big picture. Until they learn our whole region will continue its downward spiral.

Matt Kastner said...

While I am disappointed by this situation, I can understand how and why the company made this choice. And if St. Louis County is filled with so many small minded people, why are Clayton and Chesterfield kicking St. Louis' butt in terms of drawing businesses? If anything, leaders in these areas know how to play the game even better. They have their weaknesses, but they know how to sell their strengths.

Anonymous, if anything, City people are small minded to think that businesses should relocate to the city simply because its the urban core. You can blame our leadership for this as much as anyone. "If you build, they will come" might work in the movies, but most businesses aren't going to invest a ton of money on a venture like this just for the hell of it. Something tells me that the guys at Centene and Brown Shoe know a bit more about making good business decisions than we do.

I consider situations like these missed opportunities, but its our fault for not selling the idea. Not theirs. Publicly traded companies are in the business of making money, not satisfying urbanites.

Justin said...

Does anyone no how long the lease is for in Maryville Centre? When will they re-new?