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Civic project? The (unmoored) Nets net Wrigley as "off-season presenting sponsor"

Still pending, with a decision expected in September, is a lawsuit, filed in state court, by Atlantic Yards opponents and critics challenging the legitimacy of the environmental review. “The legislature did not intend a privately owned sports facility” to be a civic project, plaintiffs' attorney Jeff Baker contended in court on May 3.

But what is a civic project? It's defined as “A project or that portion of a multi-purpose project designed and intended for the purpose of providing facilities for educational, cultural, recreational, community, municipal, public service or other civic purposes.” Attorneys for the Empire State Development Corporation argue that sports facilities of course constitute civic projects.

That may be so, but how much are sports franchises about community spirit--remember the attorney for the MTA cited "civic pride"--and how much are they about marketing opportunities?

Wrigley's and the Nets

That brings us to... gum. Wrigley has become the National Basketball Association's official chewing gum. And a Forest City Ratner press release avoids the location New Jersey--no civic pride for the Garden State?--in announcing some special news regarding the Nets:
The Nets have named Wrigley as the first-ever off-season presenting sponsor for a sports team in the metropolitan area.

In presenting Nets Overtime: The Summer Season, Wrigley will receive rotating brand exposure of its five chewing gum brands -- Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Wrigley’s Spearmint and Winterfresh – on all communications including, but not limited to, press banners, press releases, email campaigns and www.njnets.com, as well as all materials associated with basketball clinics, community programs, season ticket holder events, ticket sales collateral and the 2007 NBA Draft.

Nets Overtime runs throughout late spring and the summer until the opening day of training camp in October. It will include an extensive series of events and activities such as the Nets Draft Party, basketball camps and clinics, coaching clinics, street fairs, and auditions for the Nets Dancers, Nets Kids, Team Hype, and the NETSational Seniors.

"Nets Overtime is a unique opportunity to create value for the Wrigley brands by strengthening their awareness to our fan-base and beyond in the number one media market,” said Nets CEO Brett Yormark. “Wherever our brand goes, the Wrigley brands will be visible. We are thrilled that Wrigley is demonstrating its commitment to Nets Basketball and are confident that this new partnership will provide a powerful opportunity for it to deliver a direct, positive message.”

In addition, Wrigley, a Chicago-based company, will be a valued partner of the Nets throughout the 2007-08 season. The agreement includes an extensive list of unique elements tailored to the company’s communication goals such as the branding of the Nets locker room and ball boys, gum dispensers on the team benches and scorers’ table, courtside and LED signage, presence on www.njnets.com, unique in-store retailer promotions, and a fan-friendly in-arena feature.

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