SBJ/March 6 - 12, 2006/This Weeks News

Lei-up: EA Sports renews deal with Maui Invitational

Electronic Arts’ EA Sports brand is renewing its title sponsorship of the annual early season men’s college basketball tournament in Maui.

EA Sports, which has been title sponsor of the EA Sports Maui Invitational since 2001, signed on for two more years, through 2007.

The deal was secured by KemperSports, the Chicago-based company that has organized the tournament since 1990. Neither party would reveal financial terms.

EA Sports is the only title sponsor in the tourney’s 22-year history.

EA Sports uses the tournament to promote its annual “March Madness” college basketball video game, with arena signs, ads on the games’ ESPN broadcasts and integration of “Madness” into those broadcasts.

“It really puts our EA Sports brand front and center,” said Brian Movalson, EA Sports’ senior manager for programming and events. “It’s been a real strong performer for us.”

EA Sports also hosts a party in Maui for players, coaches and tournament officials before the event, along with a “March Madness” tournament for players to test out the newest edition, which in the past has hit stores shortly after the event.

“They are far more than a sponsor who just writes a check,” said Michael Myers, the tournament’s executive director.

Movalson said an extension of two years is a reflection of the difficulty of committing to long-term sponsorships in the video game business.

ESPN has committed to televise at least nine games for every Invitational through 2011.

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