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Volume 20 No. 42
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Last season’s success, pre-lockout sales leave Rangers in strong shape with sponsors

Beyond the obvious effects of losing 17 regular-season games, New York Rangers’ corporate sales have not experienced any significant damage as a result of the 113-day NHL lockout. In fact, the club says it’s doing better at the start of this abbreviated season than it was before the 2011-12 season.

“For that, we have team performance to thank,” said Greg Economou, executive vice president of revenue performance at Madison Square Garden, which runs the Knicks, Rangers, Liberty and events at the arena.

The Rangers reached the Eastern Conference final last season after finishing second overall in the league during the regular season.

Greg Economou introduced Tissot as an MSG sponsor in October.
Economou also pointed out an important difference between the NHL lockout and the NBA’s recent one, which lasted from July 1 until Dec. 8, 2011.

“We missed fewer games in the NBA, but it presented a bit more of a challenge because that stoppage started in July, when teams are in major selling mode,” Economou said. “When the NHL lockout began in September, so much of our business was already done. Coming off the Rangers’ great season, new sales were up and we had a strong renewal season.”

New sponsorship deals for this Rangers’ season were completed with Kia, Lexus, Wheat Thins, Circle Line, Living Social, Time Warner Cable and Tissot, among others.

There will be at least two new activations during intermissions. Returning partner Duracell Powermat will sponsor the Human Puck Race, where contestants will race around the ice, pick up a large foam cell phone and place it on a supersized Powermat.

Kia, which signed a multiyear deal with Madison Square Garden in October to become the official automotive partner of all of the arena’s entities, is sponsoring the Rangers’ version of Score-0. Any contestant who, after scoring into an empty net from the near blue line, can score on one of two shots from the red line into a 5-inch hole will win a new Kia Optima Limited. In comparison, many clubs give away only short-term leases on cars. During the 2011-12 NBA season, two fans — one in Miami, one in Madison Square Garden — won Kia cars in similar contests by hitting shots from half-court.

“We’re always happy to give away a car at a major sporting event,” said Tim Chaney, executive director of marketing for Kia Motors. “There’s no better platform in hockey than Madison Square Garden and the New York Rangers.”

Chaney said his company and MSG will work out any make-goods from the lockout with the Rangers without any difficulty.

“We have contractual protection, and everything will be resolved with mutual satisfaction,” he said. “Our eagerness is to start getting Rangers fans engaged.”

With the NHL season finally under way, Economou forecasts more new sales for the Rangers.

“Now that the season’s started, we expect to do some more business,” he said. “We should have some new deals done over the next three or four weeks.”