PBA OKs Harbour Centre-Barako Bull ‘jersey deal’

By Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines?Barako Bulls just got a financial shot in the arm?at least for the PBA?s Fiesta Conference.

The league?s board of governors Friday approved in principle a short-term sponsorship proposed by Harbour Centre which will help the cash-strapped Barako Bull franchise?s campaign in the import-spiced tournament opening Mar. 21 at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

The deal hinges on Barako Bull?s compliance with the league?s conditions and the team?s submission of the terms of sponsorship on time. Should the terms pass scrutiny, though, Harbour Centre?s logo will now be seen on the uniform of the Energy Boosters.

This is the first sponsorship deal of its kind in the PBA, although such contracts are popular in other lucrative sports such as European football and Formula One.

Although Air21 had the logo of Mail ?N More on its jersey before, this was more of a ride-on form of advertisement since both courier companies are owned by businessman-sportsman Bert Lina.

Harbour Centre?s sponsorship deal easily sailed through board scrutiny because the giant port business is not a direct competitor of any team in the league.

?The Harbour Centre organization will not have anything to do with the running and the representation of the team,? commissioner Sonny Barrios told the Inquirer. ?This approval is just for Barako Bull and only for this conference.?

Although the financial terms were not divulged, insiders say it is substantial enough to keep Barako Bull afloat.

Meanwhile, Alaska team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu said that a P10 million fine for teams that will walk out of a game in future is a ?bargain if you can endure the embarrassment.?

?It?s not high enough,? the three-time board chair said in a text message. ?No amount of money can represent the impropriety of walking out of a game. Every team has a responsibility to the league and to the fans to do their best regardless of the calls.?

The league had upgraded the fine from P500,000 to P10 million for a team that walks out of a game, an off-shoot to the walkout of Talk ?N Text in Game 4 of its quarterfinal series with Barangay Ginebra in the Philippine Cup.

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