The Raptors took a major step in solidifying their franchise
when they announced a multi-year, multi-million dollar
partnership with Ford Motor of Canada.  The deal includes TV and
radio advertising, stadium displays and signage and a series of
promotional events.  Ford is the first major marketing partner
signed on by the expansion franchise.  As part of the deal, Ford
will have a leading presence on Raptors broadcasts carried by
City-TV and the New VR that will cover the 41-home games.  Ford
will also play a major part on radio, courtside and stadium ads.
Raptors President John Bitove:  "Bringing on board a quality
company such as Ford was literally our 'job 1' when it comes to
the launch of our Raptor partnerships" (Raptors).
     DETAILS: The deal will reportedly pay the Raptors $3.5M per
season over the next ten years.  Ford Canada National Advertising
Manager Ron Dodds said Ford "saw the NBA as a wholesome target to
attract to Ford products.  It's a little more youthful and
relatively affluent."  The deal does not include naming rights to
the Raptors' proposed arena, but it "instantly" puts the team in
the black on its recent TV deal.  Last month, the Raptors bought
air time on two stations for $2M, and still has 85%-90% of its TV
ad-slots open.  Plus, the Raptors can still sell naming rights
when the team's arena is finally announced (Craig Daniels,
TORONTO SUN, 12/9).  Ford also has the right to use the Raptors
logo in its ads and becomes the official automobile of the team.
Bitove: "The deal is kind of unprecedented in terms of the size
and the length of the deal. ... As more of our buisness becomes
public, people will understand the rumors (of financial trouble
in Raptorland) were never accurate" (Jim Beyers, TORONTO STAR,
     WHAT ABOUT GM?  General Motors had been negotiating with the
Raptors in hopes of "wrapping up the pro basketball scene in
Canada.  However, GM finally backed out believing that the
sponsorship deal wasn't worth the money if the naming of the
team's arena wasn't included" (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 12/9).
Vancouver's arena is called GM Place.
     SPECIAL PROFILE:  Today's Toronto GLOBE & MAIL includes an
extensive piece on the Raptors.  On the NBA mandated-minimum of
12,500 season-tickets by December 31, Dir of Ticketing Mark
Lavaway said, "Momentum seems to be on our side.  We're on a pace
of between 175 and 250 tickets per day" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
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