SBJ/20080915/This Week's News

Delta signs deal with Mets, close on Yanks

Editor's note: This story has been revised from the print edition.

Incumbent New York Mets sponsor Delta has signed a deal to become a top-level “signature partner” at the team’s new Citi Field, opening next year. The Atlanta-based carrier is also close to completing a similar deal at the new Yankee Stadium, displacing longtime Yankees sponsor Continental as the team’s official airline.

Delta also sponsors the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds, while Northwest Airlines, acquired by Delta earlier this year, sponsors the Minnesota Twins. “Baseball works very well for us,” said Jaime Jewell, general manager of corporate sponsorships. She would not comment on the new Yankees agreement.

Work continues at Citi Field, which the Mets
will christen in the spring.

Delta has been a Mets sponsor for more than a decade. Terms of its new deal were not disclosed, but a Mets signature partner typically pays in the low seven figures annually, with the deal running for five years or more.

Under the deal, Delta gets rights to a 22,500-square-foot luxury section adjacent to the new VIP Sterling Club area behind home plate. The deal includes a large sign on the left-field wall of the new park, and another sign that will be visible from the air by the many planes flying near LaGuardia Airport. Delta also gets media on the Mets regional sports network, SportsNet New York, as well as behind-the-plate signs, a promotional day and designation as the official airline and official charter carrier of the Mets. The sponsorship includes rights in the commercial and private aviation categories.

Delta hopes to integrate marketing within its SkyMiles program with both the Mets and Yankees by offering unique ballpark experiences in exchange for frequent flier miles.

“Clearly, New York is a vital market to us or any airline,” Jewell said. As for the question of return on investment? “New York is a very crowded market and we’re at a time when a page in The New York Times costs $194,000,” she said. “So doing something like this is incredibly valuable, because we know we are touching our customers. We’re reducing traditional media across the company in order to do programs like this.”

Delta is the second top-level sponsor the Mets have acknowledged, although sources said fellow incumbent Mets sponsors Pepsi, Verizon and Geico have signed or are completing similar deals. Anheuser-Busch signed on earlier this year (See SportsBusiness Journal, March 17) and will also be in the new Yankee Stadium.

“Selling into this economy is not easy,” said Dave Howard, the Mets’ executive vice president of business operations, “but we feel we are selling a unique proposition.”

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