SBJ/June 4 - 10, 2001/No Topic Name

Aggressive A’s add to sponsor list

Coming off an American League West Division title season, the Oakland A's have scored new sponsorship deals with the likes of AT&T Wireless, Albertson's supermarkets, Bay View Capital and broadband Internet service firm Covad Communications. Meanwhile, Pepsi, brewer Gordon Biersch, Aloha Airlines and others have upped their involvement with the franchise.

"We've been out there knocking on doors," said David Alioto, vice president of sales and marketing for the team. "We were very aggressive in the off-season."

It's the success of the A's middle relief pitching — holding on to top backers such as Pepsi, Network Associates, Budweiser and Microsoft UltimateTV — that allows the four-person corporate sales staff to concentrate on new business, Alioto said, "instead of chasing lost renewals."

The A's now list more than 100 sponsors that mix in-stadium signs, radio spots, team magazine ads and other promotions. At the same time, the A's held the line on the cost of sponsorships, essentially tossing a softball to smaller companies.

"Two-, three-, four-thousand-dollar sponsorships add up very quickly," Alioto said.

All the while, existing sponsors and A's food vendors — many of which weren't sponsors of the team until prodded this year by the A's — have stepped up. For example, Fox Sports Net Bay Area, which broadcasts 60 A's games and has several signs along the diamond, forged a deal with Volvo Cars of North America to give away a Volvo S40 this season if an A's player hits a fifth-inning grand slam.

Other companies are simply looking for a forum to show they belong in the big leagues.

Ron Leuty writes for the San Francisco Business Times.

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