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London-based sponsor signed for 38 four-seat loge boxes at Barclays Center; Jackie Robinson legacy invoked for Prokhorov's team

So, an arena named for a UK-based company, the Barclays Center, has another partner, another UK-based global firm, the Willis Group, aiming to expand its foothold in the United States.

The Willis Group, an insurance firm that took over the former Sears Tower, has a five-year deal to sponsor "the Barclays Center’s 38 Loge Boxes," which are four-seat boxes distinct from the 104 suites.

No price for the deal was announced, though the Post quoted Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal as saying the annual value of other Barclays Center sponsorship deals range between $1 million and $3 million.

That means that the publicity value for Willis of the news announced yesterday, including a strategic announcement first in Sports Business Journal, then a press release, may go a good ways to approaching its annual fee.

Dodgers redux?

Note this claim from Willis:
"Brooklyn is a great global brand that’s reaching new heights with the Barclays Center. The borough has earned a storied place in sports mythology, from the heroics at Ebbets Field to being the birthplace of legends such as Vince Lombardi, Joe Torre and Joe Paterno," said Joe Plumeri, Chairman and CEO of Willis. "Willis helps manage the world’s most complex risks, and we look forward to both helping the Barclays Center through its multi-faceted construction process and, when the arena is opened, to working with Mikhail Prokhorov, Bruce Ratner, Brett Yormark, Jay-Z and their team to carry Jackie Robinson’s legacy forward and bring a new generation of champions to Brooklyn and New York."
(Emphasis added)

Would you believe that Russia's second-richest man would be carrying Jackie Robinson's legacy forward?

See Scott Turner's (of Fans for Fair Play) November 2005 takedown of the difference between the Nets and the Dodgers.

Even the Rev. Al Sharpton, speaking at the groundbreaking in March, saw a distinction. "When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my mother used to tell me about how it made her feel, that she could go to Ebbets Field before I was born, and see Jackie Robinson play. Jackie Robinson was the first black to own--to be able to play in major league baseball. He played his first games right here in Brooklyn and broke the color line in terms of major league baseball players. I'm glad I lived to see the color line in ownership broken in Brooklyn, where we've gone from Jackie to Jay-Z, where we can not only play the game but we can own a piece of the game. So my mother saw Jackie and my daughters will see Jay-Z--we have come a long way."

Members of the public should root for an owner, one who owns a tiny piece of the team?

Sharpton somehow neglected to point out that in June 2006, the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, announced that Brooklyn-born Michael Jordan would become the second-largest investor--two black men running a basketball team.

Construction started last fall?

Note the continued historical revisionism, as stated in March:
While construction has been on-going since last fall, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held in March 2010 to mark the next phase of construction of the arena, which is expected to open in late spring/early summer 2012.
Well, construction activities may have been ongoing since last fall--and had begun earlier--but only after a challenge to condemnation was dismissed in March was the groundbreaking announced.

The press release
BROOKLYN SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES WILLIS GROUP HOLDINGS AS A MAJOR PARTNER OF THE BARCLAYS CENTER IN BROOKLYN

BROOKLYN, NY - Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, a sales and marketing arm of the Barclays Center, today announced that Willis Group Holdings plc (NYSE: WSH), the global insurance broker, has become a major partner of the planned Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The partnership with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment marks another bold branding move for Willis in the U.S. market. The broker, with operations around the world, doubled its size in North America with the 2008 acquisition of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs, and in 2009 significantly increased its global brand awareness by securing the naming rights to the former Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. Aligning itself with the Barclays Center, one of the most important new sports and entertainment facilities in America, represents further momentum for the Willis brand in New York City and, indeed, everywhere professional basketball and other events staged at the arena command worldwide attention.

As part of its integrated marketing platform within the arena, the Willis brand will be displayed prominently as the exclusive sponsor of the Barclays Center’s 38 Loge Boxes. The Willis name also will appear in all marketing and advertising associated with this premium seating, including a significant presence on Barclayscenter.com.

"We are thrilled to become partners with Willis and to help enhance its brand in Brooklyn and throughout New York City," said Brett Yormark, president and CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. "The Barclays Center will serve as a powerful catalyst in driving new business to Willis, which has built its reputation by providing world-class client service and global expertise. Offering unlimited networking opportunities, the Barclays Center will soon be recognized as a place where business gets done."

"Brooklyn is a great global brand that’s reaching new heights with the Barclays Center. The borough has earned a storied place in sports mythology, from the heroics at Ebbets Field to being the birthplace of legends such as Vince Lombardi, Joe Torre and Joe Paterno," said Joe Plumeri, Chairman and CEO of Willis. "Willis helps manage the world’s most complex risks, and we look forward to both helping the Barclays Center through its multi-faceted construction process and, when the arena is opened, to working with Mikhail Prokhorov, Bruce Ratner, Brett Yormark, Jay-Z and their team to carry Jackie Robinson’s legacy forward and bring a new generation of champions to Brooklyn and New York."

Willis will provide insurance and risk management services to the Barclays Center and will play an integral role as an associate sponsor of the Barclays Center Business Alliance, the premier business association for the arena’s partners.

"Willis and the Barclays Center are a natural fit," said Joe Gunn, New York Regional Partner for Willis. "Willis is all about challenging the status quo in the insurance industry and advocating fiercely for our clients around the world. We sense that same energy and excitement in our partnership with the Barclays Center, which will soon take New York and Brooklyn by storm and change the professional sports and entertainment landscape in this town. We couldn’t be more excited about our partnership, or more proud to provide the insurance and risk management services that will help Barclays Center become a reality."

Joshua King, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Willis, said, "Like our deal for the naming rights to Willis Tower in Chicago, our involvement in Brooklyn is part of a strategic marketing program to elevate our brand and connect in a powerful way with clients, prospects and the community at large รข€“ here in New York and around the world. We look forward to a great partnership that will benefit all parties as we work together to make Barclays Center the home of future champions, and at the same time, raise the Willis flag even higher."

In addition to Barclays, the naming rights partner, the Barclays Center currently has 11 major partners, including: Willis, ADT, Cushman & Wakefield, EmblemHealth, MetroPCS, MGM Grand at Foxwoods, Jones Soda, Haier America, Phillips-Van Heusen, Anheuser-Busch, and High Point Solutions.

About Willis

Willis Group Holdings is a leading global insurance broker. Through its subsidiaries, Willis develops and delivers professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial and human resource consulting and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the world. Willis has more than 400 offices in nearly 120 countries, with a global team of approximately 17,000 employees serving clients in virtually every part of the world. Additional information on Willis may be found at www.willis.com.

About Barclays Center

The state-of-the-art Barclays Center, to be located at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, will host more than 200 events annually, including professional and collegiate sports, concerts, family shows, and NETS Basketball. The arena will offer 18,000 seats for basketball and up to 19,000 seats for concerts, and will also have 104 luxury suites, including 15 Brownstone Suites (16 seats each), 68 Loft Suites (10 seats each), 11 Backstage Suites, six Studio Suites, and four Party Suites. The arena will also include six clubs and restaurants, and the onsite practice facility at the Barclays Center.

While construction has been on-going since last fall, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held in March 2010 to mark the next phase of construction of the arena, which is expected to open in late spring/early summer 2012.

The Barclays Center, designed by the award-winning architectural firms Ellerbe Becket and SHoP Architects, will be one of the most intimate seating configurations ever designed into a modern multi-purpose arena, with unparalleled sightlines and first-class amenities.

For more information on the Barclays Center log on to www.barclayscenter.com.

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