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Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Sprint to remain sponsor through '13

By David Newton
ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- Sprint remains committed to sponsoring NASCAR's premier series through the duration of its contract that runs through 2013 despite tough economic conditions, director of Sprint entertainment and marketing Steve Gaffney said Wednesday.

"Committed more than ever," Gaffney said. "This sport and what we get from this sport in terms of real business, subscribers and existing subscribers is demonstratively good for our business.

"You mention the economic downturn, we need to focus more on areas where we think we're winning business. And this sponsorship is winning business," Gaffney said.

Sprint, at the time Nextel when the deal was signed, reportedly committed $700 million over 10 years to the series.

"Certainly it is a very visible expense for our company," Gaffney said. "There's no question we've had our struggles, as have many companies during this economic climate.

"But the reality is, if you look at our investment into the sport and what we spend each year after year, it's consistent and actually is going up," Gaffney said.

Gaffney hopes new technology, such as allowing fans to listen to the drivers' meeting during the May 16 All-Star race on their phones, will continue to drive business.

"Our view is this," he said. "When we deal with NASCAR it's how do we create better programs to demonstrate Sprint's technology to the fans?"

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.