Telekom Baskets Bonn plays basketball in a hall called Telekom Dome. Like all league matches, the appearances in their bright magenta jerseys will be broadcast by the Telecom streaming service MagentaSport. Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom and the Baskets have played one-two for 28 years in the Bundesliga since 1995. They have run 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 venue and has turned the baskets into an evergreen in the German Basketball League (BBL).
But because dream marriages sometimes turn into convenience alliances, Bonn basketball players will have to look for a new name and main sponsor for next season. Telecom will remain a relevant sponsor with an annual seven-figure amount until 2025, but the golden days in the purple jersey are soon over. Without proper compensation, the baskets would lose a quarter of their total sales (almost six million euros). The net team budget is around 3.5 million euros.
The people of Bonn do not have much time to find a replacement. So it’s a good thing they’re playing their best season for a long time. On Sunday, they travel to Munich as leaders for the top match. Between corona and financial difficulties on the one hand and the surprising sporting success under the new Finnish coach Tuomas Iisalo on the other, Bonn is experiencing the most turbulent season in a long time.
Telekom Baskets finally has title chances in BBL again
Last season only thirteenth and penultimate only fifteenth, last playoff participation was almost three years ago (quarter final against Oldenburg). The Baskets have lost the final series of 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 two-thirds of their arena at the same time. Although Bonn has already been knocked out of 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 rival Merlins Crailsheim and put together a squad that worked very well right away in Bonn. American Parker Jackson-Cartwright, taken from the second French division, is the fifth best scorer and best provider of assists in the Bundesliga.
His compatriot Jeremy Morgan, who is signed from the first Italian league, has also achieved good values. “There is something of a unit on the field that was carefully done work and research in the summer,” praises Basket President Wolfgang Wiedlich. “We are one of the surprise teams of the season.” It’s good for them, after the inhabitants of Bonn had disappeared a bit in sight in the last few years.
In BBL, four other clubs are looking for a new title sponsor
That the majority of the loyal audience should 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,” Wiedlich says. Last Sunday, when not a single spectator got access to the dome, was the first home defeat 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 little balm for the soul, but unfortunately we can not suck honey from it.” Everything could be enjoyed better in full halls with lots of revenue.
And then Bonn basketball has to rely on what it was diagnosed with a few years ago in a league investigation when it tried to expose its regular customers because of the corona virus and when they’re looking for a new title sponsor: that Baskets Bonn is one of the few truly traditional brands of German basketball. Telecom took up this argument when announcing its withdrawal: “As one of the major traditional clubs in German basketball, Baskets is certainly an extremely attractive commitment to other companies,” said Michael Hagspihl, head of marketing partnerships. Wiedlich is currently researching this dissertation thoroughly.
While looking with interest at how long his curve can defend their lead in the table, he holds initial talks with potential sponsors. There are interested from the region. At the regional level, things are much more difficult. And not just for Bonn. In BBL, s.Oliver Würzburg, medi Bayreuth, Löwen Braunschweig and Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt, ie four other clubs, are looking for a new title sponsor.