Since the rise of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, the team’s owner, Madison Square Garden, has worked to strengthen its presence in the Chinese business community, according to the World Journal.
The Chinese publication was one of several media outlets that were invited by MSG to watch the Knicks play last Wednesday. MSG Sports President Scott M. O’Neil, along with Executive Vice President Greg Economou and Director of Team Sales Tim McCarthy, were on hand to greet their guests. Their hospitality was part of an ongoing effort to expand the sports, media and entertainment company’s presence in the Chinese market.
Although Lin is currently injured and is not expected to play against the Miami Heat this week, the economic boost he has brought the stadium has been striking.
Economou noted that MSG attracts about 8 million visitors daily, which includes its stadium, TV, and Internet audience. Everyone from regular folks to celebrities enjoy watching the games. MSG is part of New York’s daily life. Since Jeremy Lin’s rose as an international basketball phenomenon, Economou said that the number of visitors has multiplied tenfold. Last year, MSG executives visited China, including Shanghai, Beijing and Taiwanese, hoping to increase their partnerships with Chinese companies. Currently, the Taiwanese brands Acer and Maxxis are clients of MSG.
Lin’s popularity has encouraged the company to pursue ventures with Chinese and Chinese-American business owners who may be unfamiliar with the idea of sports marketing.
Economou said that MSG has contacted 50 Chinese companies so far and that it hopes to connect with more Chinese and Chinese-American business owners.
John Wang of the Asian American Development Center said that Chinese companies still have not realized that sports can be used as a medium for marketing. He added that many of them have an opportunity to break into the American market by landing a deal with MSG.