SBD/Issue 43/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Pilot Pen Not Renewing Sponsorship Of New Haven Tennis Tourney

Pilot Pen Has Sponsored New Haven
Tennis Tournament Since '96
Pilot Pen yesterday said that it "will not sponsor New Haven's professional tennis tournament beyond the 2010 event," according to Hunn & Baruzzi of the NEW HAVEN REGISTER. Pilot Pen has sponsored the tournament since '96, "making it one of the longest running sponsors on either the ATP or WTA tours." Pilot Pen Corp. President & CEO Dennis Burleigh said that the recession "was the reason for the company's decision." Tournament Dir Anne Worcester said that the tournament "would like to find a new sponsor by late spring or early summer 2010." She added that she "will spearhead the search along with the help of a sponsor services department, tournament partners, tournament investors, tournament chairman Butch Buchholz and CEO Mike Davis." Worcester said that the target sponsor for the joint ATP/WTA event "would be a national company, based in the northeast, that wants to affiliate itself with professional sports." Sources said that the "title sponsor deal is worth about" $1.5M. Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce President Anthony Rescigno said that the event is "still 'a desirable product,' given its uniqueness of being both a men's and women's tournament." Hunn & Baruzzi note tournaments in Indianapolis and L.A. -- "both men's events -- are also seeking sponsors" (NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 11/11). Burleigh said of the tournament, "This is the primary focus of our marketing efforts. We've been involved with this for 14 years. Personally, I love this. But in the end it's a financial decision" (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/11). Worcester said without a title sponsor, "it would not be financially viable to run a tennis tournament, clear and simple" (CONNECTICUT POST, 11/11).

X FACTOR: In Connecticut, Dave Solomon writes the event's "X factor" could be Yale Univ., "which is said to be solidly behind the longevity of the tennis tournament on their grounds." Yale "isn't in the tournament sponsorship business, but its powerful (and affluent) alumni dot every countryside." For some of the int'l companies "run by these men and women from Yale," $1.5M is "like loose change." Meanwhile, Solomon notes there is "no consideration at this point to making this a men's-only or women's-only event" (NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 11/11).

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