SBJ/March 25-31, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Chase putting the Fuse name, and its own, on the Forum

Terry Lefton
JPMorgan Chase continues to put its brand on Madison Square Garden-owned properties as part of its massive sponsorship deal signed in 2010. Industry sources tell us that after a $50 million renovation is completed in 2014 at the Inglewood, Calif., arena once known as the Great Western Forum, the venue will be renamed the Fuse Forum presented by Chase.

The new name will combine the branding needs of Chase with those of Fuse, the MSG-owned music cable network, though not necessarily artfully.

The former home of the Los Angeles Lakers is getting a new name with its renovation.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Sources tell us Chase will pay incrementally for this unwieldy naming-rights deal but added that this contingency was covered in the brand’s colossal “naming rights with everything but the name” deal with MSG a few years ago.

Those who aren’t fans of retrofitted naming-rights deals will have ample reasons to dismiss this one. Since MSG is recasting what was the home of the Lakers and Kings (from 1967 to 1999) as a music-only alternative to AEG’s Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, we understand the Fuse connection. We also appreciate Chase’s desire for branding in Los Angeles to match some of what it has in New York. But combining all those into a singular moniker seems to be a case where more will be less.

> IN THE PINK: Longtime MLB official rights holder Rawlings is adding a bit more color to this year’s MLB Mother’s Day program with a pink ball that will add to the pink bats, gloves, shoes, wristbands and lineup cards in a program that dates to 2006 designed to raise awareness of breast cancer. Rawlings’ Mother’s Day baseball is white but has pink stitching and the image of the breast cancer ribbon. Other printing on the ball, including the commissioner’s signature, is also in pink.

The balls will be made this week and used in every game on Mother’s Day, May 12. Rawlings will deliver more than 30,000 balls to retailers in April. Proceeds benefit several MLB-designated cancer charities.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Adam Pennington, the founder and longtime CEO of Game Time licensed sports watches, has jumped to Sparo, which will develop a line of licensed timepieces under the aegis of longtime hard-goods licensee Rico/Tag Express. Development of the watches is in the early stages, as there were pictures but no product to show at the recent NFL Consumer Products Summit. Pennington said the new line of two women’s and eight men’s styles will range from $30 to a $150 chronograph and will initially ship in July with licenses from all four major leagues. … Paul Phipps, former MLS executive vice president and International Speedway Corp. CMO, is the new CMO at Visit Florida, the Tallahassee-based, state-owned tourism agency, where he’ll be armed with a budget that was $54 million last year and could grow to as much as $75 million this year. In leaving Florida State University, where he was general manager for Seminole IMG Sports Marketing and assistant athletic director, Phipps goes from working for IMG College to having IMG as a vendor, since Visit Florida buys sponsorship assets from IMG for both the University of Florida and Florida State. With an eye toward tax revenue and job creation, Visit Florida’s goal is to increase tourist visits from its current level of 89 million people to 100 million. “Tourism is now the biggest industry in Florida, not development of agriculture, so we’ve got a lot of support from the state,” Phipps said.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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