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12-20-2006, 03:08 PM
Landing a title sponsor a boost for N.O. Bowl

R&L Carriers comes late but right on time

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
By Tammy Nunez

Getting a company to fork over money to sponsor a bowl game usually is a tough task under the best of circumstances.

Try landing one after your bowl, in this case the New Orleans Bowl, was forced to play for one year in another city because a hurricane devastated your host city.

That was the task facing Billy Ferrante, the executive director of the New Orleans Bowl, as October rolled around. However, in one week he was able to sign R&L Carriers, an Ohio-based freight carrier company that has a New Orleans location, to a three-year deal.


"It is late," Ferrante said of securing a title sponsor just two months from the game. "We got a call on a Wednesday . . . and we had a deal in principle by Friday."

Without title sponsors the previous five years, Ferrante said the game was able to sustain itself financially with other sponsorships, ticket and program sales and some public funds. But drawing R&L into the mix not only offers financial security for the New Orleans Bowl, but also helps revive the local post-Katrina economy. The financial terms of the deal haven't been revealed.

"It's extremely important for New Orleans," Ferrante said. "We have a reputation as a city that can and has hosted the best sporting, and just events in general, in the world. While (hosting a bowl game) might not be in some people's minds as the first thing you need, it's one of those things that must be happening on the side."

R&L Carriers fits New Orleans in more ways than just a typical business handshake would. Although the company isn't headquartered in New Orleans, it does have a New Orleans office on Almonaster Boulevard, and employs more than 150 people in Louisiana.

The corporate headquarters had a pretty good idea of what New Orleans was going through after helping its New Orleans employees temporarily relocate to Lafayette after Katrina. Its Gentilly facility was slightly damaged in the storm, but was used as a holding area for animals lost or hurt during Katrina.

R&L Carriers already was looking to expand its sponsorship and marketing into football after years of supporting NASCAR. When the company heard from a sports marketing firm in Ohio that the title rights on the New Orleans Bowl was available, they saw the mutual benefits inherent in the deal. Not only would R&L be in the bowl business, but a city that needed a boost would get one.

"We want to help show support for the city," said Dewey Gatts, R&L Carrier's vice president of marketing.

Turns out, the deal might bring in even more support. Gatts said the interest among employees and clients in the Rice vs. Troy State game has been huge.

"We have people from the state of New York to the state of Washington coming to New Orleans," Gatts said.

Tammy Nunez can be reached at tnunez@timespicayune.com or (504) 232-3697.

12-20-2006, 04:07 PM
"Turns out, the deal might bring in even more support. Gatts said the interest among employees and clients in the Rice vs. Troy State game has been huge."

The media is always on top of it.