SBJ/January 24 - 30, 2005/This Weeks Issue

Nextel out, Grey Goose in for NTRA

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has lost Nextel as a sponsor of its annual championship, the Breeders’ Cup, but picked up vodka brand Grey Goose.

Nextel announced in June 2003 that it would sponsor the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, a race for the world’s best fillies and mares, in a deal reportedly valued at about $1 million a year. The original deal was for 2½ years, but on Jan. 1 Nextel exercised a clause in the contract allowing it out of the deal, said a source who asked not to be identified.

A spokesman for Reston, Va.-based Nextel, which in December announced a deal to merge with Sprint, did not give a specific reason for dropping the sponsorship.

“Really, it’s Nextel continuing to evolve and grow its overall commitment to sports sponsorship,” said spokesman Rich Pesce. “It was just a business decision that we would end our relationship with the NTRA.”

Chip Campbell, NTRA senior vice president of media and sponsorship, said: “We all know that sponsorships are dynamic; they come and they go. Nextel was a good partner and they are not continuing and our industry is disappointed.”

But, Campbell said, “We are extremely pleased to welcome Grey Goose as an official NTRA sponsor.” Campbell would not reveal the terms of that agreement but said it involves both the NTRA and “a good number” of major racetracks.

Grey Goose will receive advertising units, along with signage, hospitality and brand exclusivity at some of the major thoroughbred racing events, including the Breeders’ Cup, which will be held at Belmont Park in New York on Oct. 29.

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