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Volume 21 No. 2
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Deal to host event in San Francisco opens doors to new partners

At the start of the year, America’s Cup sponsorship sales were stuck in neutral.

The America’s Cup Event Authority had six major sponsors in Louis Vuitton, Puma, Garmin, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Starwood Hotels, and Moët & Chandon, but it hadn’t announced a new deal in more than three months, and it was searching for deals in critical categories like automotive and financial services.

A solid sales year has allowed the newly formed America’s Cup Event Authority to add new sponsorship deals with Lexus, Charles Schwab, Kaiser Permanente and Red Bull.
Over the last nine months, the situation has changed dramatically. The organization has announced deals with Lexus, Charles Schwab, Kaiser Permanente and Red Bull, and it expects to close a few more deals before the end of the year.

It’s a change that, in large part, followed a deal with the city of San Francisco last April that ensured the race would take place there in 2013. There was a chance before that deal was finalized that the America’s Cup Event Authority would have to change its plans for the race.

“We were selling promise. Now we’re selling reality,” said Stephen Barclay, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority.
Sponsorship packages range in value from $3 million to $10 million and can be customized to include everything from television spots and on-screen graphics to hospitality and signage. Barclay said the organization is looking for sponsors in the beer and telecommunications categories.

The America’s Cup Event Authority has hired 21 Marketing, which is led by Rob Prazmark; Premier Partnerships, which is led by Randy Bernstein; and BRC Group, which is led by Brad Rothenberg, to assist with sales.

The organization’s agreement with the city of San Francisco calls on it to raise $270 million in sponsorship revenue. Barclay said organizers are close to their goal.

“It’s no secret that we started behind the eight ball,” Barclay said. “Sponsorship sales were slow, but 2012 for us has been a great year, and I would predict by the end of this year that we’ll be on track.”