Long known as one of the primary players in the sporting memorabilia world, Steiner Sports has begun to branch out into a new space – premium events allowing fans opportunities to directly interact with their sporting heroes at its New York headquarters.
While the idea of an athlete signing is certainly nothing new – I personally have fond memories of meeting Red Sox great Jim Rice at an event at a sporting goods store when I was a wee lad in the late ‘80s – but Steiner’s new model is a touch more high-end.
Take an upcoming event with Met captain and fan favorite David Wright. Rather than queueing in a long line for the quickest of interactions (or, in the case of the famously not quite fan-friendly Rice, a grunt and a nudge to move along and let him get back to signing), Steiner has an entire evening laid out for its attendees.
“For over 30 years Steiner Sports has provided fans with exciting collectibles, but we have seen a shift over the years, clients not only want the signature but they also want an opportunity to meet the players, learn more about their journeys and commemorate the experience with a photo and video,” says Steiner founder Brandon Steiner. “We learned that the interaction with the athlete is just as valuable as the collectible.”
On June 7, fans will have a chance for just that with a moderated baseball and career discussion with the seven time MLB All Star. There will be opportunities for members of the audience to ask their own questions of the franchise leader in a myriad of offensive categories (hits, RBIs and total bases among them) while enjoying snacks, soft drinks, and even beer and wine for those inclined for a little Thursday happy hour.
Every attendee will walk away with an autographed item and have a chance to take a personal photo. The Silver Package comes with a signed MLB baseball, with a signed game model bat for the Gold Package. Those with a little extra scratch can opt for the Platinum Package, which comes with the game model bat as well as access for two to a private post-Q&A VIP dinner with Captain America* himself.
It’s a unique twist on the traditional signing, offering a rare opportunity for meaningful interactions with such a beloved player for a fairly nominal up-charge over what the collectibles included in the package would cost at retail. And it’s one that the company is making a regular occurrence for those lucky enough to live in the New York area (or willing to travel).
“We have incorporated experiential opportunities into almost all of our contracts. We are looking to give fans from all age groups an opportunity to interact with the players,” says Steiner. “If your daughter has a passion for gymnastics, we want to provide an opportunity for her to participate in a training session with USA Olympic gold medalists like Aly Raisman and Laura Hernandez. If your passion is business and want to receive advice from a world champion and entrepreneur like Magic Johnson, we want to make that possible. Putting the fan in direct contact with the talent is becoming a major part of what we do.”
For those worried that the old-school signing is going away, fear not. Steiner offers many opportunities for those as well, in addition to programs where fans can send items in to be signed at scheduled events. But it will be interesting to track whether or not the new flavor of interactivity as a side dish to the physical item will prove an enduring model for those looking for more than the showpiece for their mantle or man-cave.
Tickets for the June 7 event in New Rochelle, NY begin at $499. Tickets for An Evening With New York Mets Legend David Wright can be purchased at EZEvent.com.
*For those unaware of wrights heroics during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, here you go: