Sponsors are still happy with the impact Lauren Jackson has provided them, despite the injured star not playing a game for the Canberra Capitals so far this season. Photo: Colleen Petch
The sponsors responsible for bringing Lauren Jackson back to Canberra believe they are getting ''bang for their buck'', even though the injured star is yet to play a game this season.
Jackson signed a $1 million deal that will see her play three of the next four WNBL seasons for the Canberra Capitals. But the power forward has missed the first eight games due to a chronic back and hamstring injury and will be out indefinitely.
The Caps have 16 games remaining, plus finals, which means she's already missed one third of the season, which equates to about $100,000. A majority of that was paid by ActewAGL, Actew Corp and TransACT.
While disappointed Jackson has been out injured, they believe they are getting their money's worth.
ActewAGL and Actew Corp chairman John Mackay said Jackson's standing in the community was such, her presence in Canberra alone was worth the money.
Mackay was as desperate as any hardened Caps fan for Jackson to work her magic on the court, but he said everything she did off it was equally as important.
''Lauren being a great basketballer was certainly one of the factors and helping the Caps to win a flag was a factor, but the real factor [for why] we got her was that she's a great Canberran and a great Australian and fantastic ambassador for both Canberra and Australia,'' he said on Wednesday.
''Everybody's disappointed that she's not on the court but it's not even a blip on the radar as far as we're concerned … she's just got to walk around town to give us bang for our buck.''
TransACT chief executive Ivan Slavich was equally supportive of the Australian Opal.
He said injuries were just part and parcel of being an athlete and TransACT knew this when they entered the agreement.
''We'd prefer her to be playing, but an injury is an injury and you can't play if you're injured,'' Slavich said.
''We want her to get better and to repair herself so she's in good form, there's no point in playing if you're not fit … we're very happy with what she's doing given the situation.''
ActewAGL director of marketing and corporate affairs Paul Walshe said Jackson's presence at games was a boost for the sport.
He pointed to the lines of children waiting for autographs after every game as proof of that.
Walshe said it was a long-term deal and it was better to miss a few games now rather than risk her playing future by doing permanent damage.
''She's good for Canberra,'' he said.
''You've just got to go to the Caps games and you see all the kids lined up to get her autograph and their photo taken with her.
''While she's not playing, she still attracts more people because she's still there every home game.''
Jackson was expected to miss Sunday's game against Bendigo Spirit in Albury - her home town - and no return date has been set.