American Express has become a "founding partner of the Brooklyn Nets and their new arena after signing a five-year deal," according to Don Muret of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources valued the agreement at "more than" $2M annually. As the official credit card of the Nets and Barclays Center, AmEx "receives exclusive rights in the payments category, where it can provide the same presale perks and access for card members that it did at MSG." The financial services company "filled the same sponsorship category at the Garden for more than 15 years, but that deal ended at the end of last year after the two parties could not agree on the terms of an extension." Nets officials said that the two parties "started talks about 12 months ago." Those discussions, with Wasserman Media Group "assisting on the buy side, led to one of the most comprehensive sports deals for AmEx, including naming rights to both The 40/40 Club restaurant on a suite level and the arena's box office." Nets execs said that the official name of the restaurant "has not been decided." The Barclays Center deal is the "first time the company has its brand atop a facility's entire ticketing operation." Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said that the American Express Box Office and its 12 ticket windows inside the arena's main entrance "will be one of the first commercial signs patrons see as they enter the building." Card members "get early access to tickets and merchandise for all events." In addition, AmEx acquired the exclusive rights "to develop special experiences for card members such as attending a Nets practice and participating in a meet-and-greet session with the team's coaching staff." Yormark said that as part of the deal, the company "bought one of the 11 event-level Vault suites." Those bunkers "are valued at $550,000 a year" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/23 issue).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Engine manufacturer Lotus "is planning to depart" the Izod IndyCar Series "with four years left on its five-year commitment, and once those talks are concluded, Chevy and Honda would be the primary engine suppliers for at least the 2013 season," according to Marshall Pruett of SPEEDTV.com. Breaking the contract, which runs through '16, is "expected to carry a significant financial penalty." The timeline for Lotus' official withdraw "is expected to come after its IndyCar affairs are fully resolved." Pruett wrote, "For many, news of the beleaguered manufacturer looking for the exit door won't come as a surprise." Among IndyCar's three engine manufacturers, Lotus "was the last to join the series and has suffered what can only be described as a woefully unsuccessful foray into the American open-wheel scene since its on-track debut in January." After "losing Team Barracuda-BHA to Honda and both Dragon Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to Chevy, Lotus' presence in the series has been reduced since May to a single-car effort from HVM Racing for the talented Swiss driver Simona de Silvestro" (SPEEDTV.com, 7/22).