Basketball sponsors enjoy NBA tie-in

The world Basketball Championship, due to tip off next August in Toronto and Hamilton, after being rescued and relocated from the former Yugoslavia, offers a sponsorship hook without precedent in Canada - the nba.Sponsorship information on the championship says basketball will...

The world Basketball Championship, due to tip off next August in Toronto and Hamilton, after being rescued and relocated from the former Yugoslavia, offers a sponsorship hook without precedent in Canada – the nba.

Sponsorship information on the championship says basketball will lead the sports wave into the next century, and the contest at Toronto’s SkyDome and Maple Leaf Gardens and Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum will be ‘closely associated with Toronto’s new nba franchise through John Bitove, Jr., who is chairman of its executive committee.’

Bitove arranged for the championship to come to Canada after it became obvious the games could not be played in the war-torn Balkans.

Toronto’s National Basketball Association franchise begins play in the 1995-96 season at SkyDome and will stay there until its own arena is built downtown.

Nickname contest

The franchise does not have a nickname yet, but a fan contest should choose one by spring next year.

David Strickland, vice-president of marketing, 1994 World Championship of Basketball, agrees the lure of an association with the Toronto nba franchise is tantalizing, saying tournament sponsors might enjoy a ‘sort of incumbent status’ when it comes to deciding nba tie-ins.

But, Strickland continues, the world championship itself is also an excellent sponsorship opportunity.

The championship – being organized by a not-for-profit Local Organizing Committee – will feature 16 teams including the American Dream Team II, with such nba stars as Alonzo Mourning, Derrick Coleman and Larry Johnson.

Two more players will be named to the Dream Team II later. One of them is almost certainly to be Shaquille O’Neal.

The first Dream Team won the Olympic gold medal in Barcelona last year with the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson playing for it.

Roster undecided

In an interview with Strategy this week, Strickland says the Canadian roster has yet to be decided, but it will be led by Rick Fox, the b.c. native who plays guard for the Boston Celtics.

Other players confirmed for the championship are Toni Kukoc, the Croatian who plays for the Chicago Bulls, Germany’s Detlef Schrempf, who plays for the Seattle Supersonics, former Utah Jazz player Jose Ortiz, who will compete for Puerto Rico, and Russian Alexander Volkov, a former Atlanta Hawk.

Strickland says the Global Television Network, Baton Broadcasting, The Sports Network, The CTV Television Network and cbc tv have all shown an interest in broadcasting the championship.

He says Toronto’s multilingual tv station, cfmt, has considered airing games in one of its many broadcast languages to native speakers of that tongue.

He says a deal for eight nationally televised games should be struck with a Canadian broadcaster by Nov. 15.

A national cable agreement will supplement this with up to eight more games, with a further eight games slated for radio network broadcast.

As well, Strickland says the loc has formed a partnership with the nba for joint tv properties sales for the 1993-94 season, including the All-Star game in February and the nba finals beginning in May.

He says NBA Entertainment will be the host broadcaster for the tournament, providing the world television feed.

So far, Strickland says, local media partners signed on are Toronto radio stations Q107, The Mix 99.9, and CFRB 1010, and Y95 and chml in Hamilton.

Sponsors

The international sponsors are Coca-Cola and Tuborg, the Danish beer. The international suppliers are sportswear company Converse and basketball maker Molten.

Strickland is reluctant to say just which companies he is talking to, but says some are in the soft drink, athletic shoe, automotive and confectionery categories.

He says he is also talking to a bank.

That is most likely the Bank of Nova Scotia, an equity partner in the Toronto nba franchise.

Strickland says there is room for about nine fully integrated sponsors of the world championship.

As for ticket prices, Strickland says they are not set yet, but the best seats in the house will sell ‘for what the market will bear,’ so all other seat costs can be held down for the rest of the fans, especially the younger ones.

Preliminary events

To help build excitement for the tournament, the loc has organized with Sears Canada the World JamFest Mall Tour, a hands-on event for fans May 14 to Aug. 14 at up to 35 Sears mall locations around southern Ontario.

Strickland says the jamfest will offer advertising exposure, sampling, display sponsorship, and more.

Also, he says, from Jan. 1 to June 1, there will be a community, school-based outreach program for all Ontario secondary schools, colleges and universities.

It will be staffed by police volunteers and is endorsed by Basketball Canada and the Canadian Intramural Recreation Association.

Strickland says sponsorship for this program will include on-site signage, advertising exposure, sampling and promotional extension opportunities.

He says similar sponsorship opportunities exist with the World Three-On-Three Festival Aug. 12-14, the last week of the world championship.

2,000 teams

The event is targetted for more than 2,000 teams, and the loc hopes to close off a downtown Toronto street to host it.

The opening ceremony for the tournament will be an Aug. 3 dance party linked to music tv services such as Canada’s MuchMusic and MTV International from the u.s., and perhaps Coca-Cola.

A donation to charity will be the likely attendance charge.

Strickland says there are also sponsorship and promotional tie-ins for this event.