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Volume 10 No. 24

Marketing and Sponsorship

Etihad Airways is the new official airline sponsor of Events DC's Nation’s Triathlon, "marking the Abu Dhabi-based firm’s first foray into sports sponsorship in the U.S. capital," according to GULF NEWS. The deal "will involve the airline supporting the Nation’s Triathlon through flight provision for athletes and other promotional activities, as well as forging a partnership between the Nations’s Triathlon in Washington D.C. and the Tri Yas Triathlon in Abu Dhabi." The announcement "was made in Washington D.C. by Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI)," which runs Events DC's Nation’s Triathlon. The '13 edition of the Nation’s Triathlon will take place on Sept. 8, and "will welcome 5,000 participants" to one of the largest int'l distance triathlons in the U.S. (GULF NEWS, 7/13).

Premier League side Cardiff City "have renamed the Canton stand the Croeso stand as part of a sponsorship package with the Welsh Government," according to Steffan Rhys of WALES ONLINE. The £110,000 ($166,133) deal "will run from August 2013 to May 2014." The Welsh Government said that it "will also purchase TV advertising time with Sky Sports during live Cardiff City games." It said that the aim of the new deal "is to promote Wales to a worldwide audience." It will also see "Visit Wales branding inside and outside the stadium, pitch-side advertising boards, the use of a hospitality box and advertising opportunities on stadium screens and in the car park" (WALES ONLINE, 7/11). CARDIFF CITY ONLINE's Michael Morris wrote Economy Minister Edwina Hart "announced the deal at the Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday" with Manager Malky Mackay and player Craig Bellamy. Hart said, "Cardiff City's fantastic achievement in reaching the Premier League has provided a unique chance for promoting Wales to a worldwide audience. We want to ensure that every visitor to Cardiff next season and the millions of television viewers in more than 200 countries worldwide know what a warm welcome awaits them in Wales" (CARDIFF CITY ONLINE, 7/11).

The People’s Republic "might seem an unlikely incubator for golf prodigies," according to Brook Larmer of the N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE. Chair Mao, after all, "banned the game in 1949 as so much bourgeois frippery and had the handful of golf courses that predated the Communist revolution plowed under." Even today, the state "ostensibly outlaws the construction of new courses in mainland China, lest they gobble up too much scarce land and water" -- an edict that, though flouted in places, still limits the growth of the game. And yet Chinese "wunderkinds are now beginning to infiltrate some of the highest levels of golf. First came 14-year-old Andy Zhang, who played in last year’s U.S. Open." Then, in April, Guan Tianlang, also 14, "dazzled at the Masters." And the prodigies "keep getting younger." In May, Ye Wocheng -- at 12 years old, not even a teenager -- "became the youngest golfer ever to compete in a European Tour event when he played in the China Open." These three boys "may be just the beginning." Beyond them, training with ferocious intensity, "is a small but growing band of younger Chinese golfers" -- some, like Xie, just 7 or 8 -- who are starting to win int'l tournaments. The "wealthy children of China's economic boom." These boys and girls, whether driven by desire or family pressure, "often train nonstop, with very few days off, under a parental discipline that can rival the toughest coaches in the Chinese sports system."

LOOKING FOR A STAR: In the effort "to create a Chinese star, families are not the only ones doubling down." Corporations, too, "are eager to find a figure" -- golf’s version of the basketball star Yao Ming -- who can help "build a sport that appeals to China’s status-conscious elites." And now, "an even bigger player has invested in the quest: the Chinese state." The head of the state-run China Golf Association, Zhang Xiaoning, said golf’s emphasis on technique and mental strength, rather than sheer athleticism, makes it "ideally suited" for the Chinese. The challenge now "is to expand the pool of athletes in a game that is almost the exclusive preserve of the very rich." So far, the CGA "has teamed with corporations to host tournaments, teach golf in primary schools and build a sophisticated national golf training center."

NO PLACE TO PLAY: Thirty years ago, "there were no golfers or golf courses in mainland China." Today "there are around 400,000 regular golfers, a number that could easily double by 2020 as the middle class expands." The number of courses in China "has grown to some 600 today from 170 in 2004, with 1,000 projected by 2020." (The U.S. has 15,000 courses, Japan 2,500.) The CGA’s biggest gambit is an $80M national golf training center "inaugurated last year in Nanshan in Shandong Province, on China’s eastern coast." The facility, built to CGA specifications by the Nanshan Group, a Chinese conglomerate, "is meant to surpass the most advanced training centers in the West." It has "several hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of the latest digital swing technology." Ye's father said that Nike "has been sending Ye a steady supply of free golf clothes and clubs since he was 9." Nike has also signed up British touring pro David Watson as part of its worldwide advisory staff, bringing him to the United States for workshops on fitness and training" (N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE, issue 7/14).

Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish Government "have extended their backing of the Scottish Open until 2017," according to Phil Casey of the SCOTSMAN. After three years at Castle Stuart, the event "will be staged at Royal Aberdeen next year before moving around some of the country’s top links courses, with a likely return to Castle Stuart" in '16. The prize fund will increase from its current level of £3M ($4.5M) to £3.25M ($4.9M) in '15 and '16 and to £3.5M ($5.3M) in '17 (SCOTSMAN, 7/13).

Bundesliga club Hannover 96 has extended its partnership with sports marketing company SPORTFIVE. The two parties agreed to extend their current contract, which was set to run through '14, until June 30, 2019. SPORTFIVE has been the club's marketing partner since '07. In addition, Hannover 96 extended its sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev for another five years until '18. The company will continue to offer beer brands Hasseröder and Gilde at home games at the renamed HDI Arena (Hannover 96). ... Viagogo has said it was "surprised" by Bundesliga club Schalke's decision to terminate its partnership with the secondary ticketing company amid claims of contract breaches. Viagogo became Schalke's official ticketing partner on July 1, but the agreement "was terminated just a week later by the German side." Viagogo insisted that the move came as a "surprise" and said in a statement that it had "fulfilled all aspects of the contract" (viagogo). ... Chronotech watch brand has become the official partner of Serie A side AC Milan for the '13-14 season. The partnership, signed in collaboration with Infront Italy, which is the club's official adviser, consists of company promotions and the Chronotech logo inside the San Siro Stadium during home games and at the Milanello training complex. Chronotech will also be present on the club's website and the magazine Forza Milan! (AC Milan). ... Canadian Football League club Hamilton Tiger-Cats and fast-food chain Tim Hortons unveiled a landmark 10-year presenting partnership agreement that includes naming rights to Hamilton's brand-new stadium set to open in '14 as Tim Hortons Field (Hamilton Tiger-Cats). ... DocMorris will be the new main and shirt sponor of German 3rd League football team Alemannia Aachen. The partnership with the mail-order pharmacy was brokered by Infront Sports & Media (Infront).

PREMIER LEAGUE SPONSORS: EPL Liverpool and its official beer partner Carlsberg are celebrating their partnership of 21 years by announcing a three-year extension to Carlsberg's long-term partnership. Already the longest serving partnership of any Premier League club, it has now been extended to run until the end of the '15-16 season, a total of 24 seasons (Liverpool). ... ManU player Ryan Giggs and his former teammate Gary Neville have announced their GG Hospitality company "will be launching hotel and café brands with the intention of building a hospitality empire." The project "is set to kick off with 'Café Football,' which will be opening its first outlet in Westfield, London in November, followed by the first 'Hotel Football,' which is scheduled to open next to Old Trafford in October 2014" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 7/12).