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NASCAR is Talking to Walmart

Walmart Sponsorship and Licensing Agreement is On the Horizon with NASCAR
Walmart is in deep discussions with NASCAR team and league officials about a wide-ranging deal that has both sponsorship and licensing implications.

Senior-level Walmart executives were guests of NASCAR at the May 22 Sprint All-Star Race in Charlotte and returned this past week to tour race shops and meet more team executives as the mass retailer explores potential partnerships.

While several scenarios are being considered and the talks remain fluid, industry sources say Walmart is discussing the potential of a direct license that would make it NASCAR's exclusive retailer in the mass merchandise space. A direct license would give Walmart the ability to select its suppliers and set prices for certain categories, such as hats and T-shirts.

These negotiations are going on as NASCAR attempts to roll its team and league licensing rights into a trust, which would create a centralized licensing agency for the sport.

Walmart is believed to be exploring sponsorship opportunities with Hendrick Motorsports as well. Hendrick's drivers—Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin—account for close to 75 percent of all licensed sales in the sport, industry analysts say, making it a logical team for Walmart to sponsor.

Landing Walmart, the world's largest retailer, as part of an exclusive mass merchandise deal would be a significant coup for any sports property, especially if it entails a NASCAR store-within-a-store concept.

This sort of hybrid sponsorship/licensing deal is also at the forefront of large deals of recent note, like the recent NFL/Verizon arrangement, which bundled content and sponsorship rights.

Most retailers, particularly Walmart, are loath to spend on sponsorships, so these deals, if completed, could generate major ripples across the industry.

“This should create a feeding frenzy among teams and leagues,” said Darren Marshall, senior vice president of research at sports marketing agency rEvolution. Marshall also suggested that the NFL, in the throes of designing a new licensing program, and the U.S. Olympic Committee would be likely targets if Walmart looks to expand its sports licensing base.




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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, places the winner`s decal in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates by kissing the bricks after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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