Wolves, Lynx Name Corporate Sponsors for Arena Upgrades

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Copyright 2016 Star Tribune
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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)


The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx named five new "founding partners" on Monday who will help pay for the $130 million renovation of Target Center now underway.

Along with the "naming rights partners," Target and Mayo Clinic, the new "founding partners" have made "long-term commitments and significant investments," the professional basketball teams' officials said Monday.

The new partners are U.S. Bank; Federated Insurance; Jack Link's; Treasure Island Resort & Casino; and TCL, the massive, China-based TV manufacturer that has its North American headquarters in Irvine, Calif.

"We are excited to announce our partnerships with these five outstanding companies," said Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson. "These founding partners embody the same values and like-mindedness. And they are seeking to use their association with us to drive awareness and engagement. We are thrilled to welcome them to our founding partner family."

In exchange for its sponsorship, each founding partner will receive a customized package with the two teams. Each package will offer a yet-to-be disclosed "physical presence" inside the arena, plus outdoor and indoor digital signage and category exclusivity.

Team officials declined to say how much each partner's financial commitment is worth. However, they will disclose more details about how each partner's presence will be displayed inside the arena, once renovations are closer to being finished, Casson said.

The idea behind the new partnerships is similar to the "founding sponsors" strategy adopted by the Minnesota Vikings football team. While the main sponsor of the $1.1 billion football stadium project remains U.S. Bank, other founding partners such as Polaris, Ecolab and Pentair, MillerCoors, Hy-Vee Inc., Land O'Lakes Inc. and CenturyLink won naming rights to specific gates and tunnels throughout the building.

The first phase of the Target Center renovation is complete. The final phase will be finished by the start of the Timberwolves' 2017-18 season.

Several sponsors named Monday have partnered with the Timberwolves or Lynx before, but Jack Link's and TCL are partnering with the teams for the first time.

Under the agreement announced Monday, Jack Link's, the maker of beef and pork jerky, will become the teams' "Official Jerky."

Based in Wisconsin the company had its products featured in a Timberwolves marketing video. Going forward, Jack Link's will continue to be involved in those types of creative venues, officials said.

The company also this year moved its downtown Minneapolis offices from the Warehouse District to expanded space in Mayo Clinic Square, where the Timberwolves and Lynx have practice facilities.

"On behalf of the entire Jack Link's family, we are honored to partner with both teams," said T.D. Dixon, Jack Link's chief marketing officer. "The partnership unifies two powerhouse organizations with a shared mission for ongoing success here in Minneapolis and growth around the globe."

The teams said they reached out to TCL after seeing that it had sponsored the men's national basketball team in China. The new relationship between the teams and TCL also celebrates the fact that Chinese citizen Lizhang Jiang is the Timberwolves' newest limited partner. The teams' majority owner is Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune.

Newcomers Jack Link's and TCL contrast greatly with U.S. Bank, which has supported both Minneapolis basketball teams since their founding - 1989 for the Timberwolves and 1998 for the Lynx.

"That is a great source of pride," said U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis. By enhancing the partnership level, "we look forward to supporting the teams as they teach generations about competing hard and competing well, and leaving a legacy of success."

Federated Insurance has been a longtime partner with the teams, and both organizations said they share a commitment to helping youths.

"Beyond the exceptional employee and client entertainment this high integrity NBA and WNBA franchise provides, we believe it is important to align our company with this professional organization so committed to giving back to the greater Minnesota community," said Jeff Fetters, chairman and CEO of Federated Insurance.

Treasure Island Resort & Casino has partnered with the Timberwolves and Lynx teams for 17 years. Its newest sponsorship agreement will give it a more prominent presence inside the Target Center.

"As a founding partner, we will have more branding presence and the ability to create exciting promotions for the visitors to Target Center," said Shelley Buck, the Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council's president.

Dee DePass Ā· 612-673-7725

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November 29, 2016


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