Netball has scooped Kiwi tennis's key sponsor, leaving both of New Zealand's international tournaments and No 1 player Marina Erakovic searching for new corporate backing.
In a blanket move away from tennis, general manager Todd McDonald confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times that Kia Motors New Zealand has ceased sponsoring both the ASB Classic and Heineken Open.
The Star-Times understands the ASB Classic deal was worth around $100,000 a year and provided vehicles for the tournament, as well as vehicles through the Heineken Open and Tennis Auckland throughout the year.
McDonald also confirmed his organisation's deal with Erakovic, ranked 67th on the women's world circuit, won't be renewed this month.
Instead, Kia has moved to netball, striking a new, cash-only deal with trans-Tasman champions the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.
"From our perspective, we have one week of brand exposure over early New Year, versus netball which gives us up to five months and exposure every week," McDonald said.
"With the withdrawal of tennis sponsorship in New Zealand for the ASB Classic and our switch to netball, we had to realign some of out existing sponsorships.
"By default, Marina fell into that category. That sponsorship will come to an end as well this month."
McDonald refused to say how much the Magic deal was worth, but confirmed no vehicles are part of the agreement.
The switch leaves the Tennis Auckland-operated tournaments facing an awkward financial and logistical situation. The 2013 tournaments are only five weeks away and in 2011 are understood to have lost money after coinciding with construction work to the Stanley Street venue. Last year the events were understood to have broken even.
Director of the tournaments Karl Budge was bullish over plugging the financial and vehicular void, even suggesting an imminent deal would be even more lucrative.
"We have reached an agreement with a prestigious European brand that is a perfect fit and it's something that we're really excited about moving forward," Budge said.
"I can't name the company ... but we've agreed to terms. It's a really good transaction for us and it's one I am really happy with. It will set us up better ... for the next three years."
The Auckland Council is already committed to supporting both 2013 events.
- Sunday Star Times