When I was a kid, the first Little League team I ever played for happened to be sponsored by our local hot dog restaurant. As it so happened, our team was really good that season. (Not through anything I did — I was destined to be a baseball fan and not a player at an early age.) So my teammates and I had many victory lunches at Franksville on Harlem & Addison in Chicago. Yes, the restaurant is still there, even after all those free hot dogs they gave us kids.

I don’t know if sponsored youth sports teams are a thing of the past or not. But sports and meat are two things that have always gone so well together – imagine going to a baseball game and not having a hot dog! A couple of weeks ago, we covered a new sponsorship that Minnesota’s Ambassador Meats had with the state’s Pond Hockey Championships. A few years ago, I wrote about the sponsorship that New York processor Sahlen’s had with the Buffalo Bisons. That sponsorship, incidentally, turned into a much bigger deal because of the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays played a shortened season in Buffalo because of U.S. and Canada COVID-19 restrictions. So for a little while at least, a family-run meat processor had the naming rights to the home of a Major League Baseball team, as Sahlen Field became home away from home for the Toronto Blue Jays.

There are many different levels of sports sponsorships, from major leagues to youth leagues. I’ve seen signs for meat processors at all manner of sports events, and it provides a high level of visibility for the investment. If you can get your products at a concession stand frequented by thousands of sports fans, you can help build up brand recognition that will carry over to their next trip to their local grocery store. Depending on where you are located, there is usually some kind of team that draws a crowd. A little spending on your part could help make that crowd your customers.

Sam Gazdziak