Recent Returning Partners Reinforce Importance of Geography in Sponsorship

January 18, 2023 Recent Returning Partners Reinforce Importance of Geography in Sponsorship

While many of the largest and most recognized sponsorships are of the global and national variety, some of the most successful partnerships between brands and sports and entertainment properties are distinctly local.

Three partnership deals announced in the past week are a reminder that establishing a presence in and connection to a specific city, state or region is often a top priority for partnerships with iconic venues, events and teams.

  • In Boston, TD Bank signed an early renewal of its 20-year naming rights agreement for the home of the Celtics and Bruins. The company first purchased the rights in 2005 for a reported $6 million a year. The new deal for the TD Garden, which extends until 2045, is estimated at $10 million a year.
  • In an unprecedented move in Salt Lake City, Delta Air Lines will return as the naming rights partner of the Utah Jazz arena after a 17-year absence. Upon the building’s completion in 1991 it was known as the Delta Center for 15 years. That will be its name again beginning in July for an undisclosed number of years.
  • And in Louisville, Brown-Forman renewed its agreement with Churchill Downs for its Woodford Reserve bourbon to be the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby. The brand has been the official bourbon of the Derby since 1999 and presenting sponsor for the past four years.

Statements from TD and Delta executives emphasized the role that forging local connections often plays in sponsorship decision-making. “We believe it will be a really good way to leapfrog our growth in Boston,” said Sheryl McQuade, TD Bank’s New England president, in an interview with The Boston Globe.

According to the newspaper, TD Bank is trying to grow its presence in the city, as it is the fourth largest retail bank in Massachusetts but is only seventh in the city of Boston.

“We didn’t have to do it early, but why not?” McQuade continued. “We knew we were committed to staying in the partnership. It certainly made sense for us to do it early and to get out ahead of that.”

As for the return of the Delta Center, the rights to which the airline gave up while in post-9/11 bankruptcy in 2006, the deal signifies the carrier’s commitment to a state where it has nearly 5,000 employees and operates about seven out of every 10 flights at Salt Lake City International Airport, according to Sportico. The airline recently extended its agreement for the airport to be a hub for another 20 years.

“The homecoming of the Delta Center represents a continued investment and dedication to Salt Lake City, said Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian in announcing the new partnership.

Meanwhile, Woodford Reserve’s status with the Bluegrass State’s largest and most prominent event represents a highly visible way to stand out from the legions of competitors that produce Kentucky’s most famous export, not counting thoroughbreds and baseball bats. For many consumers, the Derby defines the state, as well as represents the highest echelon of horse racing, bestowing an exalted position to its exclusive bourbon partner among a mass market audience.