By: Toby Christie – Senior Writer
I’m sure by now you’ve seen the headlines around the internet and television in regards to American sports. If I’m being brutally honest things are beginning to look quite bleak.
Everytime you turn on the television you hear of another professional sports team going belly-up.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the latest in the long line of professional sports teams that are struggling to continue on in recent years. In addition, the most successful sport in the country (the NFL ) is currently in a lockout and the NBA looks like a sure bet to be heading that way soon, all due to finances.
It is an utter mess to a business that millions and millions of Americans hope to cling to, to help get them through their hectic work weeks and other problems that may crop up in their lives. No matter what happens in their life they always have their teams to root for… but maybe not for much longer.
Luckily NASCAR doesn’t have a “Player’s Union” so you won’t hear anything about a lockout. But just because you don’t have a lockout day counter on ESPN for NASCAR, it doesn’t mean we aren’t facing the same issues in our sport.
Remember back just a couple of weeks ago, Red Bull announced that they are looking for investors to purchase their racing team as they will no longer be in the sport next year. If investors can’t be found that will mean two current full-time teams will be scrapped, paving the way for more start-and-parkers, or maybe even less than full fields.
If a company like Red Bull which has seemingly endless amounts of money can’t make it in auto racing, how do we expect anyone else to fare any better?
Tuesday the latest domino fell in the ever changing landscape of American sports. Crown Royal has announced that following the 2011 season they will no longer have their colors along the side of a Roush-Fenway Racing Ford. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be with another team next year, the mood is that the liquor company is out of NASCAR for the time being. It was announced that they will however be continuing their successful naming rights to the spring Richmond race next year.
Roush-Fenway Racing released a statement on the loss of Crown Royal as a sponsor.
“We are obviously disappointed with the news, but first we would like to thank Diageo and Crown Royal for a terrific partnership that has spanned almost a decade,” said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. “They have been a first-class partner all the way around. We look forward to finishing out the season with them on the No. 17 as Matt and the Crown Royal team continue to contend for another championship.
“It’s unfortunate that they will not be able to continue to be a part of our organization. Fortunately, our race programs are operating at a higher level than ever. The No. 17 is an attractive, championship-winning program with a storied history and Matt Kenseth an elite driver. We have already opened the door for discussions and are currently in the process of speaking with companies interested in taking over the program for next season and beyond.”
As much as it pains me to say this, don’t expect this to be the last announcement of this magnitude before this year is over. Matt Kenseth has already racked up two wins this year, and is looking very much like a championship contender. If he can’t keep a sponsor it makes you wonder who else is on the fence for next season.
We already know that Aflac is hesitant to pick up any of the tab on another year at Roush-Fenway Racing (especially if Carl Edwards moves on to another team), and there have been rumors that UPS may not sign up for another year with David Ragan. If those rumors are correct, that would mean that three of Roush-Fenway’s four teams alone could be in sponsorship trouble next year.
When you add in the other sponsors that have been in rumor mill you start to see how close we are to a breaking point in the fiber being of NASCAR. Something has to be done to cut costs in NASCAR so that the price of sponsoring these cars can be reduced.
The next few months could be pivotal to how business is done in NASCAR, and how strong the sport will be for years to come.
Toby Christie is the Senior Writer for RubbingsRacing.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Toby_Christie, as well as RubbingsRacing.com @Rubbings. Also don’t forget to like the RubbingsRacing.com facebook page to join in the community of over 2,200 fans who love to talk about all things NASCAR.