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Volume 21 No. 2
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NBA Kings to package USSA sponsorship deals with its own

The Sacramento Kings have signed a four-year deal to acquire control over two sponsorship packages for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Grand Prix series.

Each sponsorship and hospitality package is for three Grand Prix events, which feature snowboarding and freeskiing competition. Those events will be held in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Copper Mountain, Colo., and Park City, Utah.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Grand Prix sponsorships typically are priced in the mid-six figures.

The Kings plan to take the USSA sponsorships and package them with their new arena and team sponsorship offerings. By doing so, they hope they will be able to diversify the demographic and geographic reach the team is able to offer potential sponsors.

“The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has distinguished themselves as one of the most successful teams in the country,” said Kings President Chris Granger. “Given the fact that they too are locally minded in their approach we think is a good fit. We are going to represent them from a marketing standpoint. Our fans are big winter sports fans.”

For USSA, the deal gives the organization guaranteed revenue for sponsorships that it normally would need to sell itself. It also believes that partnering with the Kings will raise the profile of its Grand Prix events by affiliating it with a strong brand in the geographically important region of Northern California.

“We wouldn’t do this with an agency or media company, but having NBA assets packaged with our assets was appealing to me in terms of what sponsors they can go after, which are different from us,” said Michael Jaquet, USSA’s chief marketer. “The icing on the cake was the possibility of exploring events together because they operate in the Northern California-Tahoe region where we have a lot of donors, sponsors and athletes.”

USSA has exclusive deals with 20 companies in 20 categories, and it protected those categories. The Kings have the rights to sell sponsorships in any unsold categories, and the USSA has approval rights over those sponsorships.

The most obvious opportunities for the Kings are in the quick-service restaurant, beverage or hospital categories. The team has sold those categories successfully in recent years, and USSA has struggled in those areas.

Jaquet hopes that the Kings are able to bring companies in those categories into the Grand Prix sponsorship fold.

“I feel confident they’ll bring those in, and that’s great for us,” Jaquet said.

The team will be selling the three events, which are televised nationally on NBC, adding to the value of the deal. The deal also gives the Kings a bigger menu to offer their own team sponsors.

“When we are in the marketplace, it helps to have a wide array of business,” Granger said. “It makes sense to go to market with assets that extend beyond Sacramento. As we build a new arena, we can package the combination of assets to allow for a much more compelling package.”

The Kings first approached USSA a few years ago and restarted discussions four months ago. This is the first time the Kings have sold non-NBA inventory, but other similar deals are expected for the Kings.

“It is great for our sellers,” Granger said. “There will be similar announcements in the coming weeks.”