SBJ/March 26 - April 1, 2001/Olympics

Nelligan gets call to sell for U.S. bobsled team

Sports & Sponsorships, the Coral Gables, Fla.-based sports marketing agency that was retained earlier this month as the official marketing agency of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, has hired Nelligan Sports Marketing to help sell corporate sponsorships for the federation.

Sports & Sponsorships President Scott Becher said he hired NSM to handle the corporate sales aspect of the assignment because he knew of "no better outfit to sell sponsorships than Nelligan Sports Marketing."

Becher, whose client list includes the NFL, NCAA, NHL, NASCAR and Major League Baseball, as well as companies such as Hershey Foods, Sprint, Gillette, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Foot Locker, has worked with Nelligan CEO T.J. Nelligan on various projects during the last 10 years. The two worked together on activating sponsorships for the NCAA in the 1990s when Nelligan was an employee of Host Communications Inc., the marketing arm for the NCAA.

"It took me only about a second to offer the job to T.J. and his group," Becher said, "and it only took him about a nanosecond to say yes."

NSM was formed about two years ago and has built its business primarily around marketing college athletic departments and conferences. The company recently began to expand its reach to include clients such as the PGA Tour's Genuity Championship, Translux Sports, a scoreboard manufacturing company, and now the USBF, where it will be the agency responsible for developing and selling sponsorship packages.

"Corporate support is very much needed to support our athletes," said U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation marketing director Dmitry Feld. Feld said that as a national governing body, the federation is not generating much in corporate dollars and depends mostly on support from the U.S. Olympic Committee. He wouldn't say how much the federation generates, saying, "You'd laugh at me if I told you."

Feld said federation officials are hopeful that with three groups — the USOC, Sports & Sponsorships and NSM — promoting the sports of skeleton and bobsled that sponsorship dollars can be significantly increased.

NSM is completing the sponsorship packages and plans to start selling them in two to three weeks, Nelligan said. Packages will likely sell for $500,000 to $1 million, he said.

While Nelligan will lead the federation's sponsorship sales, Becher said his company will work on the "big-picture aspects" of marketing the federation, which include building brand awareness, increasing television exposure for non-Olympic events and increasing the visibility of the federation's athletes.

"The sports, particularly bobsled, are wildly popular in Europe but go virtually unknown in the U.S. except around the Olympics, and that's something we need to change," Becher said. "The beauty of it is that the USBF has athletes that are considered among the finest in the world."

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