October 7, 2010: The marketing machine that is Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment keeps on rolling. The sales and marketing arm of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which will be home to the NBA's Nets beginning in 2012, has signed a five-year deal making premium Russian vodka Stolichnaya a founding partner and the official vodka of the sports and entertainment venue.
The deal is Stolichnaya's first "long-term foray into professional sports," according to brand owner SPI Group. Financial terms of the alliance were not disclosed.
A major catalyst in the partnership was Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, a businessman and entrepreneur in his native Russia who is the first foreign-born owner of an NBA team.
The NBA itself and some 25 teams or their venues have signed deals with liquor companies since the 2008-09 season when the league amended a ban that had been in effect since 1991, which limited partnerships with hard liquor brands and forbid placing ads courtside, on team Web sites and other locations. Marketing supporting those alliances is allowed as long as the ads drive home the message of drinking responsibly. The ban did not affect beer. Among others, the NBA has a deal with Bacardi, the Los Angeles Lakers have a deal with Proximo Spirits' 1800 Silver Tequilia, the New York Knicks have a partnership with Sobieski vodka and the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are among several teams aligned with brands of Bacardi.
Included among the other companies that have signed on as partners and/or sponsors at the Barclays Center are Haier America, ADT, EmblemHealth, MetroPCS, Cushman & Wakefield, MGM Grand at Foxwoods, Jones Soda Co., Phillips-Van Heusen, Anheuser-Busch, Willis Group Holdings and High Point Solutions. Financial firm Barclays has a 20-year naming rights deal for the arena. The Nets will play at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, until their Brooklyn venue is completed.
As part of the agreement with the Barclays Center, Stolichnaya will receive numerous entitlements, including category exclusive branding throughout the new arena and the branding of six bars.
"This partnership represents Stoli's first long-term foray into professional sports and we look forward to an exciting and successful partnership with the Barclays Center and Nets Basketball," Andrey Skurikhin, Partner at SPI Group, said in a statement. "Stoli is a pioneering brand in the spirits industry and celebrates the same spirit of innovation that characterizes the development of the Barclays Center and the revitalization of the Nets. We look forward to engaging with our consumers in this much anticipated, exciting new venue."
The deal also further builds a strategy being pursued by Prokhorov and franchise executives to make the Nets "the Nets the first global team in the NBA." The team will play pre-season games against Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets in China (Beijing on Oct. 13, Guangzhou on Oct. 16) and then two regular-season games in London vs. the Toronto Raptors, which also is part of the lead-in to the 2012 Summer Olympics in the U.K. city. The Nets also plan to make a stop in Moscow to hold a series of clinics prior to their pre-season games in China.
According to Brett Yormark, president and CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, and CEO of Nets Basketball, "We are thrilled to become partners with the most innovative and historic brand in the spirits industry. The Barclays Center continues to align with renowned companies which seek to build their brands in the heart of world commerce. Stoli has made a major commitment to the Barclays Center and we look forward to building its brand with a year-round marketing platform."
In addition to NBA basketball, Barclays Center will host pro boxing and tennis events, college basketball and hockey and concerts, among other events.