SBD/June 10, 2011/Franchises

Celtics Say Possible Labor Trouble Not Affecting Sponsor Renewals

The Celtics on Thursday held their sixth annual sponsor summit in downtown Boston, and team executives said they have not seen renewal efforts blunted by the possibility of NBA labor strife this summer. Addressing what he called "the elephant in the room," Celtics President Rich Gotham said the team is proceeding on as usual, with no major concerns from sponsors levied yet. The team has about 20% of its sponsor base up for renewal this summer, similar to recent years. About 100 execs attended the summit. "We are on our normal course of business and plan to play a full season until there's reason to believe otherwise," Gotham said. "We have and will maintain wide-open communication with all of our partners, and if there's a bump in the road, we would ask our partners to look at the business long-term." Choosing his words carefully so as to avoid a league fine, Gotham said the NBA's labor negotiations bear little resemblance to those in the NFL. "I don't think it's analogous to the NFL. The timing is similar, but the issues are different," Gotham said. "The NBA is trying to come up with a business model that ... does away with some of the haves and have-nots, and the (economic) discrepancies around the league." The Celtics, though not returning to the Finals this year after a seven-game battle with the Lakers in '10, outlined a successful '10-11 season that included 56 regular-season wins, a continuation of their home sellout string to 201 games and counting, a 54% jump in local TV ratings on Comcast SportsNet New England, a 162% increase in traffic to, and an establishment as the fifth most popular U.S. sports entity on Facebook. "The business has never been stronger," said Gotham, referring to the Celtics. "And the business drives the basketball operation and allows us to field a championship-level product."
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