SBD/Issue 33/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Empty Pot Of Joe: Starbucks Ending Sponsorship Of Sonics

Starbucks, which has sponsored the Sonics since the '01-02 season, has ended their relationship with the club, a year after Starbucks Chair Howard Schultz sold the team, according to Craig Harris of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. Starbucks has also ended its Mariners sponsorship, and spokesperson Valerie O'Neil said the company is "moving away from sports sponsorships," although it will remain a sponsor of the WNBA Storm. O'Neil added Starbucks' deal with the Sonics was "completely separate from [Schultz'] ownership of the team." The Schultz-led Basketball Club of Seattle bought the Sonics and Storm for $200M in '01, and Starbucks' sponsorship amount "increased significantly" a year later. The annual payments "continued to rise" until '06, when Schultz put the team up for sale. Seattle-based Caffe Appassionato has gained the coffee pouring rights at KeyArena to go along with earlier deals at Qwest Field and its Events Center.  While the company declined to disclose terms of the KeyArena deal, a co-owner said that "it would not approach the level of Starbucks" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 10/26).

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