ST. LOUIS, Mo. (February 7, 2013) – The St. Louis Cardinals today announced an expanded partnership with St. Louis‐based Rawlings Sporting Goods to benefit area youth. Through the partnership with Rawlings, the team is launching the Cardinals Varsity Club presented by Rawlings, a membership-based program exclusive to teenagers and young adults in Cardinal Nation.
"Rawlings stepped up to the plate when we launched Redbird Rookies in 2004 and they have been an outstanding partner," said Michael Hall, Vice President of Cardinals Care and Community Relations. "We are very excited about this new venture and we look forward to sharing Cardinal baseball with more kids in our community."
The membership-based fan club is exclusive to teens and young adults, ages 14-19, and offers a personalized fan experience for the age group. Although many teams have fan clubs, the Rawlings Varsity Club is considered to be the first-of-its-kind for the teen demographic among major domestic professional sports leagues. The $35 membership includes a ticket voucher for two tickets to a 2013 Cardinals home game, two exclusive promotional items – Varsity Club backpack and Cardinals flat bill cap – a Cardinals coupon book, two issues of Cardinals Magazine and more. The year-long Varsity Club membership culminates with Rawlings Varsity Club Day at the Ballpark on Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Members will receive two tickets to the game, early access to the ballpark for a program featuring Cardinals front office executives, Rawlings representatives and Cardinals players, and the opportunity to parade around the warning track pre-game. Fans can visit cardinals.com/varsity to obtain more information or to register for the 2013 season.
"The Rawlings Varsity Club membership program is a natural progression of our continuously-expanding partnership with the Cardinals," said Kurt Hunzeker, senior director of brand marketing for Rawlings. "This first-of-its-kind sponsorship platform allows us to better connect and engage with our core target market, offer exclusive product discounts and tailor unique experiences as they progress in their playing careers and fan avidity for the Cardinals."
In addition to the Varsity Club sponsorship, Rawlings renewed its presenting sponsorship of the Cardinals Kids Club (formerly the Cardinals Crew Kids Club) in an effort to grow with young Cardinals' fans and fortify its commitment to enabling baseball in the St. Louis community. The Kids Club, for fans ages 15 and under, is in its 13th year and this season features Jon Jay as its official spokesman. This marks the third year that Rawlings will participate as the lead sponsor of the Kids Club in which 7,300 kids took part in 2012.
Membership for the Cardinals Kids Club presented by Rawlings is $25 and includes two Cardinals tickets, a Cardinals drawstring bag designed to look like Jon Jay's new 2013 "St. Louis" home alternate jersey, a stylish pair of headphones, a Cardinal-themed lunch bag, a new 2013 Cardinals Kids Club lapel pin, membership card and lanyard, as well as an invitation to an exclusive member's only party at Busch Stadium featuring autographs, food, fun, Fredbird and more. Fans can renew or purchase memberships and obtain more information at cardinals.com/kidsclub, or call the Cardinals Kids Club hotline at 314.345.9888.
In addition, the Rawlings Replay equipment trade-in program will continue as part of these sponsorships, which has outfitted more than 8,000 Redbird Rookies players since its origin in 2011. Rawlings is the Official Batting Helmet and Ball Supplier of Major League Baseball.
Since its inception in 1997, Cardinals Care has invested nearly $18 million in helping children, including providing nearly $11 million in grants to over 800 non-profit youth organizations, and building 19 youth ball fields in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Missouri and Illinois. For nearly a decade, Cardinals Care has run the innovative Redbird Rookies program, a free baseball league for kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity to play. In addition to providing all the uniforms, gloves, bats, balls and other equipment needed for each team, Redbird Rookies also provides extensive off-field support in the areas of health, education, mentoring and the cultural arts for each of the nearly 4,500 kids who participate in the program each year. Cardinals Care has distributed more than $16 million to area children's organizations. To learn more about all of Cardinals Care's programs visit cardinals.com/community.