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Sports Business

Tennis event gets title sponsor

February 26, 2008
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Despite rumors-and a report in this space yesterday-that WellPoint will be announced as a title sponsor of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships today, WellPoint and tournament officials say that’s not the case.

Officials for the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, formerly the RCA Championships, have called a press conference for 2:30 p.m. today to announce a “premier sponsor,” of the tournament. The announcement will take place at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.

“We are in no way involved in the announcement,” said WellPoint spokesman Tony Felts. “We are as curious as anyone who the sponsor is.”

Tournament officials wouldn’t divulge who the sponsor is ahead of this afternoon’s announcement, but in a statement said, “The new sponsor is a leading Indianapolis-based company with a strong commitment to healthy active lifestyles.” Tournament officials are also expected to announce a new name and brand identity for the tournament, with the new sponsor’s name incorporated into the tournament title.

Thomson Consumer Electronics’ RCA brand killed its $1 million-plus annual title sponsorship following the 2006 tournament--ending a 15-year run as the event’s marquee sponsor. In 2007, a group of sponsors led by Eli Lilly and National City Bank, increased their sponsorship to help mitigate the loss from RCA’s defection.

The event’s previous $1.6 million in corporate sponsorships helped meet about 46 percent of the event’s annual budget, according to tournament figures. Due to the loss of its title sponsor, the tournament’s budget shrunk from $3.5 million last year to $2.5 million in 2007.

Do you think this latest sponsorship deal will help the tournament survive and thrive?
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