Mikhail Prokhorov, the brash Russian owner of the NBA basketball team New Jersey Nets has announced that his team has entered into sponsorship agreements with Aeroflot and vodka importer Stolichnaya.
The announcement was made Wednesday, just weeks after the Nets and Russian vodka maker Stolichnaya agreed to a contract with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, where the team will play beginning in 2012.
History buffs may recall that it was in 1972 that PepisCo, maker of Pepsi products, landed a trade deal in which Pepsi would market Stolichnaya vodka in the United States in exchange for the right to market Pepsi in the Soviet Union, making Pepsi the first Western food import behind the Iron Curtain.
The alliance between the Nets and Aeroflot is for the next two years, while the team plays its remaining home games at Newark’s Prudential Center. The deal gives the Russian airline television-visible courtside signage during Nets home games and on-screen branding during YES Network broadcasts of Nets away games. Nets home games will also be broadcast on Russian television network NTV.
Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov is reportedly the 2nd richest man according to Forbes magazine. He purchased controlling interest in the team in September of 2009, via an offer to the team owners that majority ownership for the Nets be sold to his company, Onexim, in exchange for a $700 million construction loan to build a new sports arena in Brooklyn and attract additional investment for future Nets operations and team acquisitions.