Rockets Drawing Global Interest

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(from Sports Business Journal, November 13, 2012) The Houston Rockets of the NBA are once again getting global interest due to signing Jeremy Lin, who is Taiwanese-American, as a free agent during the off season. The Rockets were already well known in Asia, because Yao Ming played for the Rockets for 8 seasons. The Rockets currently have 5 companies doing business in China as sponsors. Tad Brown, the CEO of the Rockets, says they have many other deals in the works with Asia-based companies. These companies are in telecommunications, financial services, and apparel sponsorship categories.

“Jeremy [Lin] is unique, and people are interested in him as a person and as a player, and we are seeing significant interest again from the Chinese market,” said Brown. When Yao Ming retired in 2011, the Rockets had 8 companies sponsor them that did business in China. The Rockets have signed many new clients this year including Taiwan-based Maxxis Tires, which was also a Knicks sponsor when Lin played in New York, and with Kenda Tires. They have also signed East West Bank and MetroBank, and China-based shoe apparel company Peak. All of these companies are very large throughout Asia. Brown stated that team sponsorship revenue is up 20% this season.

Not only are they benefiting on the sponsorship side of things, but they have also seen an increase in ticket sales as well. Full season tickets are up 25% and a 90%renewal rate as well. This is mainly fueled by the signing of Jeremy Lin and the addition thorough trade of James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder, which happened the night before the season opener. They set a team record for gate revenue during their home opener on November 3. “We have put a lot of effort in our premium areas and we are in the top four in the league in group sales and should have our highest production ever,” said Gretchen Sheirr, Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service for the Rockets.