By Barry Janoff
February 2, 2013: The WNBA continues to mine jersey-sponsorship endorsement deals and alliances with gaming-related businesses as a way to generate income. The latest is a "multi-year marquee partnership" between the Tulsa Shock and Osage Casino that includes the Osage Casino logo on Shock home and away jerseys beginning this season.
The Shock are the seventh team of 12 in the league with a jersey sponsorship deal. It also is the second such deal that begins with the 2013 season, following the Indiana Fever and Finish Line.
This is also the third alliance between the WNBA and casino-related firms.
The Connecticut Sun have been owned and operated since 2003 by the Mohegan Sun, which is under the auspices of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. The 2013 WNBA All-Star Game will be played in the Mohegan Sun Arena, as was the 2009 All-Star Game. Mohegan Sun said it has 6,000 slot machines, 325 table games and 40 poker tables.
The NBA has been dipping its toe into gaming-related alliances for several years. The 2007 NBA All-Star Game was played in Las Vegas. Mohegan Sun also has a marketing alliance with the Boston Celtics, which in January was renewed and expanded. The Mohegan Sun Sports Bar is located within TD Bank Garden, which is home to the Celtics and NHL's Boston Bruins.
The New York Liberty and Foxwoods Resort Casino have a marketing deal that includes jersey-front sponsorship.
Financial terms of the Shock-Osage pact were not disclosed.
Osage Casino will support the alliance via multi-media advertising, signage and fan activation at the Shock's home BOK Center arena, social media and community events.
“The Osage Casino is a contributing part of the Tulsa and Oklahoma business community, and we are proud to help support the growth of our local professional basketball team,” Neil Cornelius, CEO for Osage Casino, said in a statement.
Osage Casino in Tulsa, operated by the Osage Nation, has more than 1,000 electronic games, 11 table games and an six-table poker room, according to executives.
Among the other WNBA teams with jersey deals are the Los Angeles Sparks (Farmers Insurance), Seattle Mystics (Microsoft's Bing), Phoenix Mercury (LifeLock), and the Washington Mystics (Inova Health System).
The WNBA also has a deal with Sprint's Boost Mobile for jersey-front branding with ten of the league's 12 teams. As the official outfitter of the league, adidas is also allowed to have its logo on all WNBA jerseys.
“The Osage Casino is a contributing part of the Tulsa and Oklahoma business community, and we're proud to help support the growth of our basketball team.”
The NBA is currently working toward allowing its teams to wear brand logo patches on game uniforms, possibly as soon as the 2013-14 season.
“This agreement and the ability of our organization to secure a marquee partnership is one of the most significant milestones in franchise history,” Steve Swetoha, president of the Tulsa Shock, said in a statement. “Osage Casino is a widely respected local and regional brand in the gaming and entertainment industry. Partnering with such a strong local brand will only enhance our own branding and visibility opportunities in Northeast Oklahoma.”
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