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: