Have We Hit the Bottom of the Sponsorship Well?

joel kirsteinCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2008

With the NCAA College Bowl Game season upon us, 34 to be exact, the pervasiveness of corporate sponsorship seems as deep as ever. But in fact as Department Stores drop their backing of holiday parades and when mega-clients like GM don't renew their sponsorship deal with the New York Yankees, have we hit the bottom of the sponsorship well?

The NASCAR world has been dominated by the news of teams losing sponsorships as opposed to celebrating the three-peat championship of driver Jimmie Johnson. No sport is immune.

Chicago-based IEG L.L.G. who specialize in corporate sponsorship recently predicted that 2009 will see a scant rise in spending of only 2.2%. The lowest figure in almost 25 years. I see this number as highly ambitious and would expect at least a 10% drop in corporate sponsorship for 2009.

In 2008, corporate sponsorship in North America went up 11.4% to almost $17 billion, compared to 2007. I have to believe that the economic meltdown that started in late summer had to make corporate sponsorship hit a brick wall overnight.

Case in point, the cancellation of the 2009 Arena Football League season earlier this month due to evaporating corporate sponsorship. As a business model, the AFL was seen as one of the better dollar-value investments for both fans and corporate partners.

The challenge for non-top tier, pro sports like the WNBA, AVP, Minor League Baseball, MSL, etc. will be to provide a more substantiated ROI to retain and/or attract new corporate sponsorship.