News of the lawsuit filed by Anheuser-Busch Inc. against MLB over renewal of the brewer’s league sponsorship is one indicator of the importance corporate marketers place on partnerships with pro sports properties, especially those at the highest echelons.

Thus it should not be a surprise that the four major U.S. pro sports leagues and their teams are projected to post a 7.6 percent increase in sponsorship revenue in 2010 to $2.28 billion from $2.12 billion, according to an IEG SR analysis.

The rise in spending marks a significant rebound from 2009, when those same entities saw a drop of 3.9 percent in total sponsorship revenue in the face of a struggling economy.

When IEG SR releases its full review of the year in sponsorship at the end of December, the higher than expected growth in pro sports will almost certainly drive actual spending for the entire sports category much higher than the 2.8 percent increase projected at the beginning of the year, even if the fortunes of amateur sports, auto racing and other pro sports such as golf and tennis lag behind.

The rebound largely is attributable to three factors: Pent-up demand after two years of corporate belt tightening; the availability of previously unmarketed inventory; and a resurgence in spending by the financial services category.

Case in point: The NHL last week announced a new U.S. partnership with Discover Financial Services.

In basketball, the NBA in September signed Spanish bank BBVA as its official bank, a tie that represents the league’s first partner in the category in recent history. The deal follows new ties with Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. and State Farm Insurance Cos.

On the football front, the NFL this summer replaced Bank of America Corp. with Barclaycard US, with the latter becoming the league’s official issuer of co-branded credit cards. Other new ties include Papa John’s Int’l, Inc. and—in a deal that does not begin until 2011—Anheuser-Busch as official beer, replacing Molson Coors Brewing Co.

MLB’s new partnerships for 2010 included The Scotts Co. and Bridgestone Americas, Inc., which is using the tie to promote its Firestone tire brand.

Spending at the team level also has increased this year, driven in part by renewed spending in the automobile category, as well as from financial services.

Corporate Partners Of The Four Major U.S. Pro Sports Leagues
League Sponsor Category
MLB Anheuser-Busch Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, malt beverages
Bank of America Banking services
Bayer One A Day Multivitamin
Firestone Tire
Frito-Lay Salty snack
Gatorade Isotonic beverage, energy bars
Gillette Men’s and women’s grooming products
General Motors Foreign and domestic vehicle
InterContinental Hotels Group/Holiday Inn Hotel and resort
KPMG Accounting, audit and tax services
Mastercard Int’l Credit card/payment system
Nike Athletic footwear and athletic eyewear
Pepsi-Cola Beverage: non-alcoholic, non-isotonic, not milk-based
Scotts Lawn care provider, grass seed, lawn care company, lawn & garden company
Sirius XM Satellite radio network
State Farm Insurance
Taco Bell Quick service restaurant, casual dining
NBA Adidas Apparel/footwear
Anheuser-Busch Beer (alcohol and non-alcohol malt beverage) Online auto retailer
Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. Rum
BBVA Banking
Cisco Information technology and networking solutions
The Coca-Cola Co. Soft drink/juice
EA Sports Video game software
Gatorade Sports and energy drinks
Haier America High definition TVs and consumer appliances
Hewlett-Packard Personal computers, printers and IT services
Kia Motors Automotive
Nike Footwear
Right Guard Antiperspirant, deodorant and body wash
Sirius XM Satellite radio
Spalding Basketballs and backboards
State Farm Insurance
T-Mobile Wireless service provider and handset
Taco Bell Quick service restaurant
NFL Barclays NFL affinity credit cards
Bridgestone Automotive tires
Campbell Soup Co. Soup
Canon USA Cameras, camera equipment, binoculars/field glasses, photo printers, camcorders
Coors Brewing Co. Beer
Dairy Management Inc. Milk products
EA Sports Video games
Febreze* Fabric care/air care
FedEx Package delivery services
Frito-Lay Salted snacks/popcorn/peanuts/peanut products/salsa/dips
Gatorade Sports beverages (isotonics)
General Motors Passenger cars and passenger trucks
Gillette* OTC grooming products
Head & Shoulders* OTC grooming products
IBM Computer hardware and software, IT services
Mars Snackfood Chocolate and non-chocolate candy products
Motorola Wireless telecommunications equipment
News America Super Bowl FSI
Old Spice* OTC grooming products
Papa John’s Pizza carry-out/delivery
Prilosec OTC* Heartburn medication
Verizon Wireless telecommunications services
Vicks* OTC cold and flu remedy
Visa Payment systems services
*Brand of The Procter & Gamble Co.
NHL North America
Blackberry Official partner
Bridgestone Firestone Tire
Cisco Official partner
Honda Car
Compuware Official partner
Enterprise Rental car
GEICO Car insurance
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority Official partner
Pepsi/Frito-Lay/Gatorade Official partner Official Partner
Starwood Hotel
Ticketmaster Ticketing partner
Anheuser-Busch Beer
Discover Credit card
McDonald’s Quick serve restaurant
Sirius XM Satellite radio
U.S. Army Official partner
Verizon Wireless Wireless
Bell Wireless
Canadian Tire Official partner
Energizer Battery
Hershey Chocolate and candy
Kraft Official partner
Labatt Breweries of Canada Beer
Scotiabank Bank
Visa Credit Card
XM Satellite Radio Satellite radio