Welcome to the Fan Cave

It is Opening Week for Major League Baseball and if you are a baseball fan or even know a baseball fan, you are familiar with how important this week is. Opening Day rings in the unofficial summer, a time when people take off Fridays to go to the ballpark or listen to the radio play-by-play in their cubicle. These are the dedicated fans.

But the MLB is taking it one step further. The 2012 season will be the second year that the league has had the “Fan Cave,” a central aspect of its social media engagement. The Fan Cave is a small 15,000 square-foot space, about the size of an apartment, which houses 45 TVs. The reason for the obscene amount of high definition screens? So nine chosen people can attempt the impossible: see EVERY 2,430 regular season games.

The space is also used as a broadcast studio, concert venue and tourist attraction, which the league hopes will keep people talking about the sport throughout the season on social media communities. The Cave is also useful for corporate advertising, as Pepsi, Budweiser, Sony and State Farm all have product tie-ins to the Cave.

The Cave is also becoming a hot tourist spot for baseball fans. This year visitors will be able to see the Cave’s “Dirt Bar,” which contains vials of dirt from every ballpark in the nation, which of course can be purchased as a souvenir.

Joining tourists in the Cave are the athletes themselves. ESPN will host shows right from the Cave, brining in stars such as Justin Verlander, Joe Mauer and Dan Uggla.

The Fan Cave is a very different program for the MLB. Baseball is based on tradition and the league has been slow to integrate with social media. The Fan Cave is working to change that.

As the season progresses, the Cavemen (and women) will attempt to see all the baseball action across the nation while tweeting about their experience and, of course, the games. The Cave will even have its own Twitter and Facebook page so fans can interact directly with the Cave and its dwellers.

Increasing the number of Cave dwellers from last year’s two to this year’s nine was the first step in making the Fan Cave a bigger part of the sports conversation. In fact, there may be competition among the dwellers with eliminations throughout the season.

The league saw success last year with the Cave and had to select among 22,000 applications for this year’s Cave dwellers. Fans were willing to give up their current jobs to be thrown in the Cave after last year’s Fan Cave co-host, Ryan Wagner, became the stadium announcer for the Baltimore Orioles.

Batman may have the Batmobile and other cool gadgets, but the MLB is giving him a run for his money with the Fan Cave. It is successful fan program that brings baseball into the social media world. Today, fans want to see everything as it is happening. There are apps to keep you updated on every game in every sport, making sure that you never have to miss a pitch or hit. The Fan Cave is a great reflection and utilization of this phenomenon and it has a great chance for growth with the 2012 season.

Check out the Cave here: http://mlb.mlb.com/fancave/

– Amanda Keuler

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