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MOBIL TO PULL OUT OF SPONSORING TRACK & FIELD EVENTS
Published April 25, 1995
Mobil Corp., "track and field's most faithful sponsor" in both the U.S. and the world, "likely will end all ties with the sport when its contracts expire after the 1996 season," according to Philip Hersh of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Last Thursday, Mobil told USA Track & Field and IMG that it would not renew its sponsorship of the five-meet indoor track series carried by NBC. Mobil paid $1.25M for title sponsorship of the series, which is co-owned by USATF & IMG. Despite "decent" ratings (2.2), Mobil "was not pleased with the meets." The original signage allocations did not give Mobil any more space than minor sponsors, Nike and Visa. Hersh also notes, "USATF's failure to see the pitfalls of allowing legal gambling on the Reno meet without first prohibiting participant athletes from betting also displeased Mobil." Mobil, a track and field sponsor since '81, pays about $11M annually in sponsorship fees and has been the title sponsor of both the indoor and outdoor Grand Prix circuits, the indoor and outdoor U.S. Championships and one of the indoor Grand Prix meets. IMG's Sean McManus denied that any decision has been made by Mobil to pull out of track & field, but Mobil spokesperson John Lord said, "Everything is under review." Mobil's eventual decision to end its involvement with the track & field "owes to both disenchantment with track's leadership, particularly in the United States, and its resistance to demands for more sponsorship money" by the IAAF, which governs the sport field worldwide. Through its marketing agent, ISL of Switzerland, IAAF is asking Mobil to increase its $6M annual sponsorship of the outdoor Grand Prix this year and to pay $7M for each of the next four years (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/25). Last month, Mobil terminated its title sponsorship of the Cotton Bowl college football game (see THE DAILY, 3/29).