Monday, May 23, 2005

NHL Sponsorship

One of the main reasons given that the NHL is considering a mid-June drop dead date for 2005/06 CBA negotiation is that it will be hard for the NHL to maintain sponsorship beyond that date for the season. This may be a deadline imposed by Gary Bettman to try to put pressure on the NHLPA, but it may also be a deadline imposed on Gary Bettman by major NHL sponsors.

Even if sponsors have set this deadline, it is likely still a bluff. Should an NHL season occur with a CBA agreement made well after June, the NHL will have many sponsors. There are few (if any) other ways to get the NHL's demographic. During the winter, where else could you advertise to garner the attention of as many young to middle aged males? In the markets where the NHL should be (ie not the Carolina's of the world), NHL sponsorship is a very good advertising situation for many products. If Labatts or Dodge stopped sponsoring games, somebody else would be happy to step up to do so. It would be a great way to establish your company. Given the possibility of labor unrest in the NBA, one major competitor for sponsorship money will not be as viable.

Of course, this is all dependant upon an NHL returning with its major stars in roughly the same format as before. Major changes to that would change the value of sponsoring a team or the league. However, it is not true that a June 15th deadline for a new CBA would be held to if no agreement was reached. Neither the NHL nor its sponsors would let that happen. There is too much money to be made when NHL hockey is played.

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