Sports are a big attraction for many millions of fans in the United States alone. We seem to be on a first name basis with sports stars such as Derek, Kobe, LeBron, Peyton, Rafa, Beckham (OK, that’s a last name. :-), and many more. That’s why sports remain a booming business and a lure for advertisers. Just this week, it was reported that Disney was looking to buy time for a couple of more ads on February’s Super Bowl — at a cost of $4.4 million per thirty second spot!
But the star power of sports extends to the famous celebrities who go to the games. These celebrities create considerable star power buzz for the teams — and generate lots of free publicity. Some even pay enormous amounts for their seats (yes, a lot of them do get freebies).
In this season of woe on the court, few teams cultivate and show off celebrities like the New York Knicks. As Sarah Lyall writes for the New York Times:
“No other basketball team except the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates the presence of big-name fans [stars] at its games as aggressively and as unabashedly as the New York Knicks do. In a city where fame is its own reward, and proximity to fame is nearly as exciting as the thing itself, celebrities in the stands help promote the exceptionalist notion that the city is special, the Knicks are special, the Garden is special, and Spike Lee is a better kind of fan than Jack Nicholson [who roots for the Lakers].”
“Celebrities, of course, are different from you and me, and the Garden has developed a well-oiled system of cultivating and cosseting them. ‘If you’re an A-level person and we know the fans are going to go bananas when your picture goes up on the scoreboard, then there’s a value having you there,’ said Barry Watkins, the Madison Square Garden company’s executive vice-president for communications and administration. ‘We think it’s a big part of the brand. Win or lose, it’s one of the reasons people come to the games.’ (In fact, at 15-26, the Knicks have been doing a lot of losing this season.)”
Click the image to read more from Lyall.