Date: July 02 2012
They’ve got the world’s best player and a sponsorship deal to match, now Canberra coach Carrie Graf wants the Capitals to become the first professional women’s national league team in Australia.
The seven-time WNBL champion Capitals locked in their financial stability for the next four years yesterday when they unveiled The Tradies as their new naming-rights partner.
The deal is worth more than $600,000 and is believed to be one of the biggest - if not the biggest - corporate partnerships for a women’s team in Australia.
Add to that the signature of superstar Lauren Jackson for three of the next four seasons on the most lucrative deal in Australian women’s sport - worth almost $1million - and the Capitals are a clear market leader.
It will also boost Graf’s hopes of making the Capitals a full-time program so her players don’t have to juggle 9-5 jobs and elite basketball.
‘‘It’s a move forward in where we want to take this program and our goal remains - could we be the first professional team in the country,’’ Graf said.
‘‘...I think we’re well positioned to move towards that dream and on the court we’re trying to win championships again.
‘‘The timing was right ... with it comes newness and freshness and it’s been a win-win-win situation.’’
Graf helped broker the deal to lure Jackson back to Canberra and her friendship with The Tradies chief executive Rob Docker helped secure the new sponsorship arrangement.
But Graf’s Capitals contract ends after the 2012-13 WNBL season and her Basketball Australia deal finishes after the Olympic Games.
Jackson said Graf epitomised the Capitals and hoped she would continue into the future.
But Graf said she would wait until after the Olympics and into the WNBL season before making a decision.
‘‘There are a lot of factors that impact on your future, but if our program continues to move in the right direction I’ll always look at Canberra,’’ Graf said.
‘‘This sponsorship is a great step forward and one of the big things for me is what we can do with the Caps on and off the floor.
‘‘Right now my focus is on this and the Olympics and post Olympics there will be a lot happening, but I’ve verbalised to our key stakeholder that I’d look to stay in Canberra if our program moves forward.
‘‘But I also have to consider other options and go through that process.’’
Prior to linking with The Tradies, Canberra telecommunications company TransACT had been the Capitals’ major sponsor for 12 years.
The Capitals are the only Canberra team with a long-term major sponsorship arrangement.
The ACT Brumbies and Canberra Raiders require a much higher financial investment of around $1million a season, but it’s still an impressive feat for the Capitals.
With Jackson and The Tradies secured until at least 2016, next on the to-do list is re-signing Australian Opals and Capitals mentor Graf.
Graf’s Basketball Australia contract ends after the Olympics and her deal with the Capitals is finished after the 2012-13 WNBL season.
Triple Olympian Jackson - who will lead the Opals at her fourth Games in London this month - will return to the WNBL for the 2012-13 campaign as the Capitals search for their eighth title.
‘‘It’s awesome to have the support of The Tradies over a four-year period and I’m really proud of it,’’ Jackson said.
‘‘We’re going to need a team to be successful and the league is getting better and better each year.
‘‘We need to be really successful for The Tradies and the people supporting us.’’
The Tradies also sponsors Canberra’s champion W-League team Canberra United.
Docker said committing to the Capitals would not affect a deal with United, which is expected to be negotiated in the coming months.
‘‘More importantly it’s a message to the community that sport is important right across our community,’’ Docker said.
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