The Telekom Baskets Bonn play basketball in a hall called the Telekom Dome. Like all league games, the appearances in their bright magenta jerseys will be broadcast by the Telekom streaming service MagentaSport. Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom and the Baskets have been playing one-two for 28 years, in the Bundesliga since 1995. They have been running a model sports sponsorship partnership for more than a quarter of a century. Telekom has invested more than 80 million euros in building and maintaining Bonn as a sports location and has turned the baskets into an evergreen in the German Basketball League (BBL).
But because sometimes dream marriages turn into alliances of convenience, the Bonn basketball players have to look for a new name and main sponsor for next season. Telekom will remain a relevant sponsor with an annual seven-digit sum until 2025, but the golden days of the purple jersey will soon be over. Without an adequate replacement, the baskets would lose a quarter of their total sales (almost six million euros). The pure team budget amounts to about 3.5 million euros.
The people of Bonn don’t have much time to find a replacement. So it’s a good thing that they’re playing their best season in a long time. On Sunday they will travel to Munich as leaders for the top game. Between corona and financial imponderables on the one hand and the surprising sporting success under the new Finnish coach Tuomas Iisalo on the other hand, Bonn is experiencing the most turbulent season in a long time.
The Telekom Baskets finally have title chances in the BBL again
Last season only thirteenth and the penultimate only fifteenth, the last playoff participation was almost three years ago (quarter final against Oldenburg). The Baskets have lost the final series for the German championship five times – the last time was in 2009. They lost the cup final three times – the last time was in 2012. They have not been in a final for ten years because they had to finance their squad in such a way that they were able to pay off two-thirds of their arena at the same time. Although Bonn has already been eliminated from this year’s cup competition, a lot seems to be possible in the league.
The key transfer last summer was coach Iisalo, 39, who came with his brother and assistant Joonas Iisalo from league rivals Merlins Crailsheim and put together a squad that worked very well right away in Bonn. The American Parker Jackson-Cartwright, brought from the second French division, is the fifth-best scorer and best provider of assists in the Bundesliga.
His compatriot Jeremy Morgan, signed from the first Italian league, has also achieved good values. “There is quite a unit on the field, there was meticulous work and research done in the summer,” praises Baskets President Wolfgang Wiedlich. “We’re one of the surprise teams of the season.” That’s good for them, after the people of Bonn had disappeared from view a bit in the past few years.
In the BBL, four other clubs are looking for a new title sponsor
The fact that the majority of the loyal audience has to be locked out for the home games, which are finally more respectable again, hurts the President. “Under normal circumstances we would now have full ranks,” says Wiedlich. Last Sunday, when not a single spectator was allowed into the dome, the first home defeat was against Hamburg. The atmosphere in the empty hall?
“Freezer!” says Wiedlich. After all, Bonn still held the lead in the table. “Our success means a bit of balm for the soul, but unfortunately we can’t suck any honey from it.” Everything could be enjoyed better in full halls with plenty of income.
And so Bonn basketball has to rely on what it was diagnosed a few years ago in a league study when trying to put off its regular customers due to the corona virus and when looking for a new title sponsor: that Baskets Bonn is one of the few real ones traditional brands of German basketball. Telekom took up this argument when it announced its withdrawal: “As one of the big traditional clubs in German basketball, the Baskets are certainly a highly attractive commitment for other companies,” said Michael Hagspihl, who is responsible for marketing partnerships. Wiedlich is currently examining this thesis thoroughly.
While he’s watching with interest how long his baskets can defend their lead in the table, he’s holding initial talks with potential sponsors. There are interested parties from the region. On a regional level, things are much more difficult. And not just for Bonn. In the BBL, s.Oliver Würzburg, medi Bayreuth, Löwen Braunschweig and Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt, i.e. four other clubs, are looking for a new title sponsor.