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Staples' 20-year, $100 million sponsorship of Los Angeles' new sports arena is the largest-ever such deal and points to the soaring activity in the arena naming rights business.

This segment of the sports sponsorship business could exceed $750 million in new deals this year, said Dean Bonham, president-CEO of the Bonham Group, a sports marketing consultancy in Denver.

Arenas "are extraordinarily effective marketing vehicles," Mr. Bonham said. In 1989, there were three arena sponsorship deals, worth $28.9 million, he noted. Today, there are 42 deals, worth $1.1 billion.


The value isn't merely in having a name slapped above an arena's door. ProServ, Washington, last fall presented the opportunity to Staples to put its name on the new arena -- to be the home of hockey's Kings and basketball's Lakers -- as an integrated marketing program. Staples, with 100 office supply stores in the L.A. market, saw the arena as a vehicle to drive business and build a global profile.

"L.A. is the center of the entertainment universe," said Todd Krasnow, Staples' exec VP-marketing. "The events that will come through the Staples Center will not only make an impact on this market but around the world."

Staples will give some of its in-arena signage to its vendors and create local, regional and national consumer promotions targeting families, tourists and small businesses. The logo for the Staples Center, designed by Boardwalk, Glendale, Calif., incorporates the retailer's own logo.

Staples' $100 million commitment won't completely pay for the $300 million-plus facility, "but it certainly makes it easier on us," said Tim Leiweke, president of the Kings National Hockey League franchise.

The arena will open in 1999 with 10 co-sponsors in addition to Staples. These deals, valued at $2 million annually, also give marketers sponsorship ties to the Kings.

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