SBJ/September 3 - 9, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Gleam of championship trophy helps bring 3 deals Ravens’ way

The Baltimore Ravens have parlayed their Super Bowl championship into three marketing deals worth more than $500,000 each — including one with Comcast for more than $1 million — and an overall increase in sponsorship and advertising revenue of more than 20 percent.

The Comcast agreement incorporates both Comcast's cable service and the Maryland and Washington-area Comcast SportsNet, the regional sports network that was called HTS before Comcast bought it. On top of paying more than $1 million in cash annually for a comprehensive rights and stadium advertising package, Comcast is supplying the Ravens with airtime on SportsNet for preseason telecasts and its "Ravens Report" news show. The Ravens deal augments Comcast's already strong presence in Maryland, including ownership of three minor league baseball teams and naming-rights sponsorship of the new University of Maryland basketball arena.

The Ravens' other major new deals are with Mercantile Bank, which became the title sponsor of the club level at PSINet Stadium, and Aether Systems, which markets the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device and employs the Ravens' Tony Siragusa as a spokesman.

In addition, the Ravens have signed more than 15 companies to lower-tier sponsorship and stadium advertising deals for between $50,000 and $100,000.

Dennis Mannion, the team's vice president of business development, said the Super Bowl victory opened many new doors for the Ravens, but he acknowledged that the team was frustrated by current sponsors' general unwillingness to spend more with the team. He said revenue from existing sponsors will increase by only a low single-digit percentage this year, with a few gains offset by Amtrak's not renewing a major pact with the team and The Sun newspaper reducing its cash commitment.

RIDING RIPKEN: MLB sponsor MBNA will distribute commemorative ticket holders at Cal Ripken's final games played in Oakland (Wednesday), Baltimore (Sept. 23) and New York (Sept. 30). Each will be stuffed with a sign-up card for an MBNA MasterCard with either a team logo or Ripken's likeness. The Orioles and Yankees both have affinity card deals with MBNA, while the A's are in advanced talks with the company, a source said. The giveway complements MBNA's national activity around Ripken, highlighted by adding Ripken's name to the Sept. 23 NASCAR race of which MNBA is title sponsor.

NO LINDROS LIFT: The controversial trade that brought Eric Lindros to the New York Rangers did not produce the rush for merchandise that frequently occurs when a star player joins a new team.

Jerry Cosby Sporting Goods, which has a store right outside Madison Square Garden, did sell six Lindros jerseys even before the trade was announced last month, but store vice president Jim Root said he doesn't expect a real sales rush until Lindros proves that he is healthy and wins over fans. Had the Rangers acquired Jaromir Jagr, who was traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Washington Capitals this off-season, it would have been a different story, Root said.

"Lindros is a superstar, so there's going to be interest," he said, "but it's not like it would have been with Jagr, and it won't be like it was with [Mark] Messier. And nothing will ever be like it was with [Wayne] Gretzky."

Andy Bernstein can be reached at abernstein@amcity.com.

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