Monday, December 14, 2009

Going global: Cavs love Chinese partnership

    It was a gigantic step.

    Of course, the Cavaliers had made bold moves like this before. Two years ago, they had stepped into the global world when they played three exhibition games in China.

    LeBron James and the Gang exposed China and its people to the NBA's brand of basketball. The team was a smash hit -- as big as anything seen on Broadway.

    But bigger things were there for the franchise, and team officials couldn't let this initial economic opportunity slip away, could they?

    Absolutely not.

    Since then, Cavaliers officials have been negotiating with a Chinese company to sell it a "substantial" stake in the franchise. Those talks are winding toward a conclusion, helping to push the Cleveland Cavalier brand deeper into the Chinese psyche. Yet even this was just a starting point for an economic foothold there.

    On Monday, the franchise deepened its penetration into this two-billion-person market when team officials signed a marketing deal with Tsingtao Brewery Co., the largest beer brewer in China and the seventh largest in the world.

    "This is certainly symbolic," said Len Komoroski, team president. "We are very excited that Tsingtao shares the same values that we do. We look forward to working with them to create a positive impact in Northeast Ohio."

    Tsingtao (pronounced CHING dow) will partner with the Cavaliers on a number of local initiatives, and its beer brand will have a prominent place inside Quicken Loans Arena with permanent signage, Komoroski said. The beermaker will team with the Cavaliers on cultural and educational programs in the region.

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