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Newz Forum: OTHER: TENNIS: Cell phone maker, WTA hook up for $88M deal

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posted on Jan, 5 2005 @ 06:08 PM
NEW YORK -- Call it the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

The cell phone maker is paying $88 million to be the global title sponsor for the women's pro tennis circuit over the next six years in a deal announced Wednesday.

It's a sign of resurgence for the tour, which had been without a global sponsor for the 2003 and 2004 seasons, relying instead on regional deals.

"It's something that was well-deserved and maybe a little bit of time in coming,'' No. 1-ranked Lindsay Davenport said in a telephone interview from California.

"We've had a lot of sponsors come in and out the last couple of years. It's nice seeing a huge global company come in behind us. To have a company as large as they are really put in their money and stand behind us is really a huge boost of confidence.''

What won't get a huge boost, right away anyway, is tournament prize money. There will be no changes this season.

"The money really has not been earmarked for anything in particular,'' tour spokesman Darrel Fry said. "The key is going to be to use it in ways that are going to continue to promote women's tennis and benefit our players, tournaments and key stakeholders.''

Sony Ericsson -- a joint venture between Sweden's LM Ericsson and Japan's Sony Corp. -- will get to put its logos on the nets at tour events starting Monday at the Sydney International. Its name will appear on the net posts and net judge chair.

The deal will also bring the company's technology to the sport, including handsets that chair umpires will use, allowing scores to go live to the Internet.

"Women's tennis is on the cutting edge between sport and entertainment, sport and fashion, sport and design, and this deal will allow us to promote that,'' tour CEO Larry Scott said.

Under the new deal, the season-ending event will be called The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships, and the sponsor presumably would have a say in where it's played in future years. The tournament has been in Los Angeles since 2002.

In an interview with the AP in May, Scott cited three recent regional sponsorship deals worth a combined $15 million over five years, and said, "We haven't been more successful from a marketing perspective than we have in the past three months.''

Those deals will stay in place along with what the tour is calling the largest global sponsorship in the history of women's sports.

"These are not just great athletes. These people are fantastic cultural icons. They have tremendous crossover appeal,'' said Dee Dutta, Sony Ericsson's head of worldwide marketing.



posted on Jan, 5 2005 @ 06:10 PM
How does it stack up?

The Sony Ericsson deal likely qualifies as the largest sponsorship commitment in women's sports history and continues the trend by companies in the telecom industry to use sports to increase their subscriber base. To wit:

# This year was the first of Nextel's deal as title sponsor of NASCAR (a 10-year commitment worth as much as $700 million).

# Nokia has been the title sponsor of the Sugar Bowl for the last decade.

# This year Motorola signed Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova to a three-year deal worth at least $4 million.

Here's how Sony Ericsson's sponsorship stacks up against other corporate alliances in sports:

$70 million: Estimated total commitment by Nextel to NASCAR each year

$66.6 million: Visa's annual bill for sponsoring the NFL

$62.5 million: Gatorade's annual commitment to its NFL sponsorship

$60 million: Coors pays this much annually to call itself the official beer of the NFL

$14.6 million: Sony Ericsson's annual sponsorship rights with the WTA

$14.3 million: Nike's per-year endorsement deal with the Cavs' LeBron James

$7.6 million: Amount Federal Express pays for naming rights to the Washington Redskins' stadium

posted on Jan, 5 2005 @ 10:28 PM
Hey Gibbsy, how far away are we from having baseball uniforms looking like Tour De France shirts or hearing the introduction of this years edition of the Samsung Seattle Seahawks.

[Edited on 1/5/05 by MingMercil]

posted on Jan, 6 2005 @ 06:10 PM
What are you paying?

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