By Barry Janoff
March 9, 2015: Madison Square Garden, the self-proclaimed "World's Most Famous Arena," is struggling with its image this season thanks to the New York Knicks, which have one of the worst records in the NBA.
Thanks in part to the presence of such tennis legends as Roger Federer, Monica Seles and Garbriela Sabatini, there will be no such problem when those tennis legends, along with up-and-comer Grigor Dimitrov, participate in the 2015 BNP Paribas Showdown.
The 8th annual BNP Paribas Showdown hits the court in The Garden, Tuesday evening (March 10), with a bevy of first-year marketing partners and a strong array of returning sponsors.
New to this year's event are Celebrity Cruises, Coloredge, CrowdRX, Flex 24, Head Penn Racquet Sports, Infor, One Strings, Oscar de la Renta and Shire Pharmaceuticals.
Shire recently launched an alliance with Seles. Flex 24 said it would unveil a partnership with a "tennis legend."
In addition to BNP Paribas, title sponsor for the seventh consecutive year, returning marketing partners include Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Getty Images, JW Marriott Essex House, Kia Motors, Nespresso, Optimum, Rolex, SAP, Tennis.com and the U.S.Tennis Assn.
ESPN also returns as broadcast partner.
“This year’s BNP Paribas Showdown has attracted a world-class roster of marketing partners that will join us as we build upon Madison Square Garden’s long history of hosting thrilling tennis moments,” Ron Skotarczak, evp-marketing partnerships for The Madison Square Garden Co., said in a statement. “This year’s event features two dynamic match-ups that will captivate tennis fans and provide partners with an incredible platform to showcase their respective brands at 'The World’s Most Famous Arena.'”
According to Jerry Solomon, president for StarGames Inc., which is producing the event in conjunction with MSG Sports, "Each year we see more activation by our sponsor partners which is one of the things we strive for," said "The promotions are great for exposure and also illustrate the marketing power of world class sporting events."
The event also supports World Tennis Day (March 10), which was launched by StarGames two years ago with the goal of "promoting the sport of tennis and increasing tennis participation among young players around the globe." It now includes more than 90 countires.
An umbrella spot for the BNP Paribas Showdown has been running since December, supported via print, Internet, social media and signage in and around New York and The Garden.
Marketing partners will get multi-platform integration at the event, including on-site signage throughout The Garden, exposure on the center-hung GardenVision scoreboard, placement in the official event program and in-arena PA reads.
In addition to TV, print and digital, select partners get exposure through a variety of promotions and hospitality event integrations, including a USTA 10-and-under tennis clinic prior to the featured matches.
Among other activations, Delta Air Lines will host a Sky Miles auction for a chance to attend a clinic with one of the players; Kia Motors will display its 2015 K900 flagship sedan; Oscar de la Renta will outfit the hostesses for the BNP Paribas pre-match VIP party; and JW Marriott Essex House will host the World Tennis Day Welcome Reception.
The USTA Foundation, the official charity for the second consecutive year, is auctioning a Cortney Wall painting online, with proceeds benefiting the USTAF.
Two exhibition matches feature top-ranked Federer against 23-year-old Dimitrov, currently ranked No. 11 in the world; and Hall of Famers Seles and Sabatini, who will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of their classic five-set final in the 1990 WTA Championships, which was played in Madison Square Garden.
ESPN will present the entire 2015 BNP Paribas Showdown (7:30 PM ET) live on ESPN3 and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes+. The Federer-Dimitrov match will be seen on tape-delay on ESPN2 (11 PM ET).
The BNP Showdown also serves as a lead-in to the BNP Paribas Open, being held now through March 22 in Indiana Wells, Calif., in which Federer and Dimitrov are scheduled to play.
Previous BNP Paribas Showdown events have featured Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Ivan Lendl, Juan Martin del Potro, Bryan Brothers, John and Patrick McEnroe, Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.
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