They’re the world’s second most valuable sports team and their brand is known on every continent, but really the New York Yankees are a small, family run business according to one of their own.

Speaking to UCFB as part of the recent New York Global Sports Summit, the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise’s VP of Events & Brand Experiences, Emily Hamel, said that the close-knit “community” behind the scenes at the baseball giants – worth an estimated $5 billion on the latest Forbes list – even took her by surprise.

She said: “People will be surprised to know that behind the scenes we’re a family owned business. That’s something that I loved when I walked through the door ten years ago. I looked at the Yankees like this big machine, but it’s not. That doesn’t mean that it’s not thoughtful; there is a lot of thought and care that goes into all the decisions and communications that happen.”

YouTube video

So how does such a large and successful sports franchise, that even non-sports fans will recognise, remain close and true to its roots yet still have huge global commercial appeal?

Emily said: “Any brand that is successful, first and foremost, has to be true to itself. The Yankees have always been very community orientated, and they really take seriously what their brand and what their team means to their immediate community – the Bronx – but [also] to New York. That really is a guiding light.”

Bought by the Steinbrenner family in 1978, the Yankees sit alongside the New York Knicks (NBA) in the top three of Forbes’ list, ensuring a strong East Coast presence form the US’ biggest sports city. NFL’s Dallas Cowboys sit top of the list.

Emily added: “I think because they’ve [Yankees] always stayed true to the community and the fans first, the rest just kind of follows. If you get too corporate about it you lose track of who you are, but the Yankees have always stayed true to that and I think that continues to ensure their longevity.”