SBD/Issue 163/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Banquet Hall: Kansas Speedway Gets A Dance With ConAgra

Kansas Speedway To Host
Inaugural Banquet 400

ConAgra is "upping its NASCAR involvement to unprecedented levels, with a [four-year], multimillion-dollar deal" to title sponsor the Winston Cup event at Kansas Speedway, according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, who notes the race will now be called the Banquet 400, after ConAgra's frozen prepared food brand. ConAgra replaces security services provider Protection One, which held the entitlement the past two seasons. ConAgra, "to ensure that the title sponsorship gets mentioned on-air," will also buy an NBC NASCAR package, which starts at $2M (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/19 issue).

VISA: In NC, Mike Mulhern cited sources yesterday who said that Visa officials "have reportedly given NASCAR a deadline for accepting the company's offer" to replace Winston as title sponsor of its premier series. The deadline "is believed to be within the next 60 days." Other sources put the offer "at [$80-85M] a year for the next 10 years" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 5/18). But in Charlotte, David Poole writes today that reports of Visa's interest "cooled off quickly." While Visa is "believed to be a candidate," one "potential hurdle in a deal with Visa could be a $3 billion settlement of an antitrust lawsuit filed against Visa USA and MasterCard over debit-card payments" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/19).

TEAM NEWS: Masterfoods moved its M&M's primary sponsorship from MB2 Motorsports to Robert Yates Racing prior to this season, and Masterfoods Dir of Sponsorships John King, speaking at the NASCAR Power Breakfast at Lowe's Motor Speedway last Friday, said of the move, "We've increased our sponsorship dollars significantly. We wanted to be competitive. ... But as a result of increased costs, it reduces the amount of activation you can do with promotions, it reduces the amount of the hospitality you can do, and it eliminates some of your PR opportunities. There's also a fine line between being competitive and then having the money if you're not able to buy media time." The switch to Yates has proven to be a good step on the track. After 11 races this season, the M&M's team has posted two Top 5 and five Top 10 finishes, while the team's best finish all of last season was 13th (THE DAILY)....NASCAR team Owner Joe Gibbs, on the state of NASCAR: "We're headed towards a smaller and smaller group of owners that have all the cars. That's not good for the sport. We want 40 healthy owners, 40 well-sponsored cars" (Speed Channel, 5/16).

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