Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Winn-Dixie Bags Jags, Bucs in Sponsorship Deals

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Winn-Dixie Bags Jags, Bucs in Sponsorship Deals

Article excerpt

Byline: Gregory Richards, Times-Union business writer

Winn-Dixie has loaded its shopping bag this month with supermarket sponsorships for both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On both counts the grocery chain outbid Publix, which previously sponsored the professional football teams.

Publix Super Markets Inc. spokesman Dwaine Stevens characterized the recent losses as "business decisions," explaining Publix had good relationships with both teams.

"Winn-Dixie was simply willing to pay more for the sponsorships," he said.

Although it may seem Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. went after the sponsorships to boost its market share, a Winn-Dixie official said that's not the case. Joanne Gage, Winn-Dixie's marketing director, said the chain simply wanted to support the teams. "Part of Winn-Dixie's history has been supporting the community, and we think supporting a [National Football League] team does that," she said. "You increase market share in your stores -- that's where the cash registers are."

In Jacksonville, Winn-Dixie's hometown, Lakeland-based Publix accounts for nearly 35 percent of the market, besting Winn-Dixie's slice of about 30 percent.

The specifics of the two deals -- including how much they cost and how long they would last -- were not disclosed yesterday by either the football teams or Winn-Dixie. However, Gage said she would detail more information when the sponsorships become active: Winn-Dixie's Jaguars sponsorship begins Feb. 1, and its Buccaneers deal begins Monday.

Dan Connell, the Jaguars' senior vice president of marketing and sales, would only say the "multi-year" deal involves stadium signs and promotions on radio and television, and during games. "It's a full sponsorship package."

The deal elevates Winn-Dixie to the Jaguars' elite "Owners' Circle" of funders, which include Wachovia Bank, Alltel Information Services, Baptist Health and Anheuser-Busch Inc. Connell said Winn-Dixie will also be purchasing tickets as part of its arrangement, "but nothing like last year. …

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