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Volume 22 No. 44
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Cavs, Warriors set for big sales summer

When this year’s NBA Finals concludes, it won’t be an ending as much as a beginning: the start of a critical sales summer in both Golden State and Cleveland.

The Cavaliers are heading into the final season of their naming-rights deals with both Quicken Loans for their home arena and with Cleveland Clinic for their practice facility. Golden State, meanwhile, wants to turn its second straight Finals appearance into additional top-tier partners for when the Warriors move into their new $1 billion Chase Center in 2019.

The Warriors’ new arena is to open in 2019.
And both teams, like all NBA clubs, will be chasing jersey advertising patch deals this summer. Those deals, which will take effect leaguewide in 2017-18, could approach $10 million annually in the cases of Cleveland and Golden State — given their markets, their teams’ star power and the global reach of their brands.

Philadelphia set the bar on jersey deals earlier this year

when it signed a three-year deal with StubHub valued at $5 million annually.

So the task at hand for Golden State and Cleveland is to take advantage financially of being on the Finals stage for a second consecutive season.

“That is our summer,” said Brad Sims, chief revenue officer of the Cavs, talking during Game 1 of the Finals about pursuing the three high-profile, high-dollar deals.“We are putting all our resources toward them.”

Quicken Loans signed its naming-rights deal with the Cavaliers in 2005, and while the value of the deal has not been disclosed, the agreement is estimated to be around $3 million per year. At that level, roughly half of the league’s teams draw more money on average annually from their arena naming-rights deals than Cleveland does, according to SportsBusiness Journal research.

Naming rights for the Cavaliers’ arena and practice facility head into their final years.
Cleveland Clinic has had its name atop the Cavs’ practice venue since that facility’s opening in 2007. Financial terms of that deal were not available.

The Cavs will have additional season-ticket sales possibilities ahead this summer, as well. For the second straight year, Cleveland is increasing its cap on season-ticket sales. Last summer, it lifted the cap from 12,000 to 14,500. It’s increasing the number to 15,000 this year.

Sims declined to talk about any increases in revenue the Cavs experienced this year compared to last year, when the team returned to the Finals for the first time since 2007 in LeBron James’ first season back in Cleveland.

“We are pleased with where we are in terms of the business and are very focused on these three major opportunities,” he said.

The Warriors, meanwhile, are looking further down the line. Golden State’s privately financed new arena development in San Francisco isn’t set to open for another three years, but the team wants to capitalize on the spotlight of this year’s record-setting 73-win regular season and its second consecutive Finals appearance. It signed Chase to a 20-year naming-rights deal for the new arena in January.

“The brand is in a great place, but we are in a real critical juncture in terms of talking to companies with the new building in San Francisco,” said Warriors President Rick Welts prior to Game 1 of the Finals. “We got the big one out of the way with naming rights.”

With more than 28,000 people on the Warriors’ season-ticket waiting list and a 98 percent season-ticket renewal rate, Welts is able to give his full attention this summer to lining up additional sponsors for the arena development. The project calls for 100,000 square feet of retail space and a public plaza in addition to the Chase Center arena.

“The sooner the better in terms of sponsors,” he said. “The sponsors we are talking to now are all talking about what is going to happen in the next three years and what happens when we are in San Francisco. All the deals we are talking about now deal with the inclusion [in the new arena].”

Welts said he expects the arena to open as scheduled in 2019 despite an ongoing lawsuit filed against the city of San Francisco by a group that opposes the arena project.

“We are planning to put a shovel in the ground by the end of the first quarter of 2017 and we are full speed ahead,” he said.