by Lauren Hepler –
Silicon Valley may be known as the home of Tesla Motors Inc., but it will be Japanese automaker Toyota putting its logos and model cars all over the San Francisco 49ers’ new $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium.
The Northern California Toyota Dealers Association and the 49ers on Tuesday announced a multi-year, multimillion-dollar contract starting in 2014 to make the car company the “exclusive auto partner” of the team and Levi’s Stadium. Neither detailed the final price tag of the deal.
In the context of the new 68,500-person Santa Clara stadium, the sponsorship deal will translate to a hulking “Toyota Plaza” at the Northeast Entrance of the stadium. Toyota will also get to attach its brand to 49ers touchdowns; “Toyota Red Zone” will flash across screens in the tech-heavy stadium anytime the team’s offense makes it past the 20-yard line.
When it comes to the business imperatives for the new Toyota deal, a news release notes that the car company has already cornered about 20 percent of the Northern California auto market.
The joint statement also bills the partnership as an eco-friendly move, since Toyota is well known for its hybrid Prius model and the new 49ers stadium will be LEED certified.
“Toyota has utilized innovative technology to develop groundbreaking sustainable advancements in their industry for years,” said Niners CEO Jed York in the statement.
Local manufacturer of eco-friendly cars, Tesla, could be considered a similarly tech-focused partner for the Niners. While the Palo Alto company run by CEO Elon Musk has not yet dabbled much in pro sports sponsorships — an aversion to sports sponsorships shared with many Silicon Valley tech companies — car racing enthusiasts have been testing out the Model S on major raceways.*
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