Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials on Wednesday signed a deal to make Crown Royal the title sponsor of the Brickyard 400 starting in 2012.
An official announcement from IMS and the Norwalk, Conn.-based Crown Royal Co. is scheduled for late Thursday morning at the Speedway Pagoda.
Sources said the deal is worth about $15 million over five years—a much-needed boost for Speedway officials struggling to stop attendance declines at the NASCAR race.
IBJ first reported a deal was in the works with Crown Royal on July 12.
Starting next year, the name of the Brickyard 400 will be changed to the Crown Royal "Your Hero's Name Here" Brickyard 400. The race’s new moniker is part of the whiskey maker’s promotion honoring the U.S. military and public servants such as police officers and firefighters.
The race has been held in Indianapolis since 1994, and while it’s still the No. 2 event on the NASCAR circuit—behind the Daytona 500—it has seen its attendance fall by half, to about 140,000, in the last decade.
While television ratings for the race have been flat in recent years, it still attracted nearly 6 million viewers last year, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research.
Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus is working on a plan to reverse the attendance slide, and sources said Crown Royal will play a big part in that effort starting later this summer when it jumps in to help promote ticket renewals for 2012.
During the spring and summer of 2012, Crown Royal is expected to help market the race in Indiana, in as many as seven key regional markets, and with a national ad campaign.
Sources close to the deal said Crown Royal will pay $1.5 million annually for the deal and spend another $1.5 million annually to promote the race.
The Crown Royal deal is bigger financially than the Allstate title sponsorship pact for the race, which ended in 2009. At the time, that was one of the biggest title deals in NASCAR.
The Crown Royal deal, sources said, is financially bigger than any other current NASCAR title sponsorship agreement, including the Coca-Cola 600 and Irwin Tools Night Race in Bristol, Tenn.
Earlier this month, Crown Royal announced it would no longer sponsor Matt Kenseth’s car at Roush Fenway Racing after this season, using the money for title sponsorships instead.
Belskus earlier this month signed a deal to add NASCAR Nationwide Series and Grand Am sports car races to the Brickyard 400 weekend starting in 2012, which should further enhance the Speedway’s sponsorship opportunities.