JetBlue Airways has been snapping up sponsorships with sports teams across the country in the past 18 months, including the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, Buffalo Bills, Texas Longhorns and New York Jets.
On Friday, the airline announced its first ever sponsorship with a hockey team and arena, becoming the official – and exclusive – airline partner of the Florida Panthers and BankAtlantic Center. Already, JetBlue’s signage is on the awnings over the arena’s doorways and dots the plaza in front of the building.
By January, a signature JetBlue tailfin is to be added to the plaza – the first ever installation for the airline. (See rendering above).
To honor the new multi-year partnership – and the addition of the airline’s 18th destination from Fort Lauderdale (starting Nov. 17 to San Francisco) – the airline is offering 18 percent off on bookings made today for travel Dec. 2-16 made at www.jetblue.com/bac
Officials would not disclose the financial details, but a release about the deal says it will include joint marketing and advertising through 2011. It is expected to include special travel packages for Panthers fans to attend away games and for fans in cities JetBlue serves to visit South Florida and take in a Panthers home game.
Panthers President Michael Yormark announced the partnership Friday on the arena’s front plaza, which will know be known as the JetBlue Tarmac, saying “Today, the BankAtlantic Center gets more leg room. Today the Florida Panthers become true blue.”
Marty St. George, JetBlue senior vice president of marketing and commercial strategy, said the airline considered other sponsor opportunities in South Florida, but chose to partner with Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, the Panthers’ parent company and operator of BankAtlantic Center, because of the variety of events the company oversees.
“It’s not just a team,” St. George said. “The building has 200 plus events a year. Over 2 million people have come in every single year to various events. And I think that’s something we saw as a great kicker on top of it, which is not only do we get to work with a dynamic team that I think has got a great future, we also have the opportunity to get our name in front of customers that come here for all the different events … This is a dream opportunity.”
The announcement also included a concert by Cobra Starship, and was attended by JetBlue employees, as well as Panthers coach Pete DeBoer and team limited partners Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel.
Viner and Siegel are expected to buy a portion of majority owner Alan Cohen's stake in the team and be named co-general partners. Cohen will retain a stake in the team, but will no longer make team decisions. Viner and Siegel weren't talking Friday, but the restructured ownership situation is expected to be announced next week.