Kings struggle to keep all those new sponsors happy

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It is one of the key reasons the Kings are still the Sacramento Kings.

Sacramento Mayor walked up to the NBA’s owners — not the Maloof brothers that own the Kings, but the rest of them — and said he could bring in $10 million more in local corporate sponsorship. Then he went out and got it — 32 companies that bought ads or suites or whatever they could swing go help the team and city.

Except, now those sponsors are growing uncomfortable as the NBA lockout drags on, reports the Sacramento Bee.

With two weeks of games already canceled, and much of the rest of the season in jeopardy, the team is talking to sponsors about refunds, “make-goods” and other concessions.

So far nobody has asked for their money back, and the discussions “have been positive,” said team spokesman Chris Clark. But some sponsors are getting antsy.

As games disappear from the schedule, “the sponsorship becomes questionable,” said Doug Elmets, spokesman for Thunder Valley Casino. “We’re now reassessing how we want to move forward.”

Thunder Valley would be a $1 million sponsorship. That is not easy to replace.

Other teams are facing the same sponsors wondering what kind of value they will get back from the team in a lockout-shortened season. This issue is league wide.

It’s just more acute for the Kings, where keeping fans and sponsors happy so the money keeps flowing matters in showing Sacramento can support an NBA team. (Well, aside the argument that it has supported an NBA team for decades, thank you very much.) It’s hard to sell the buzz of Jimmer Fredette when he’s not playing and the team can’t even talk about him. The Kings need to keep positive vibes going so that the momentum to get a new arena built in the city continues. By March, the city has to show the NBA owners they have a plan in place to get an arena built.

The Maloofs would help with all that, if they weren’t house shopping in Anaheim.