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Sports Sponsorhips Are Back

Forbes, November 17, 2010

By Tom Van Riper

Following a 3.9% decline in sponsorship revenue in 2009, North America’s four major sports leagues and their teams are poised for a 7.6% increase in 2010, to $2.28 billion. That’s according to the final projections of the Chicago-based IEG Sponsorship Report, which tracks corporate sponsor activity for sports and other industries.

Credit two years of pent-up demand and a rebound in the financial services sector, according to IEG senior editor William Chips. Apparently, the PR disaster many banks feared from heavy sports spending during the credit crisis has begun to fade – good news for the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball.

“The four major pro sports leagues and their teams have largely regained their sponsorship footing after a devastating 2009,” says Chipps, who notes that sponsorship spending has increased at both the league and team levels.

Among the new major sponsorship tie-ins: the NBA’s naming of with Spanish Bank BBVA as its official bank, along with deals with State Farm Insurance and Bacardi USA. Discover Financial Services became the official credit card of the NHL in a one-year deal that was just signed in early November. New MLB tie-ins include turf maker Scotts Co. and tire maker Bridgestone, which is also the naming rights sponsor for the NHL’s Winter Classic. Meantime, the NFL replaced Bank of America by signing up Barclaycard US as an issuer of its co-branded credit cards (Bank of America is still active with some individual NFL teams, and remains the official bank of Major League Baseball).

The 2010 sponsorship spending breakdown by league, according to IEG estimates:

NFL: $870 million

MLB: $548 million

NBA: $536 million

NHL: $327 million