N. American sponsor spending on motorsports up in 2010

CHICAGO Tue Feb 9, 2010 1:23pm EST

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CHICAGO Feb 9 (Reuters) - NASCAR and the rest of motorsports are getting some good news as sponsorship spending by North American companies is expected to rise 2.1 percent in 2010 after the segment's first decline in 25 years, a research firm said on Tuesday.

Spending by companies based in North American is expected to rise to $3.37 billion from $3.3 billion last year, according to IEG, a unit of advertising giant WPP Plc (WPP.L) that tracks such budgets. That spending fell 6 percent last year.

However, the expected 2010 increase still trails the expected 3.4 percent boost for overall sponsorship spending and 2.8 percent increase for all sports properties, IEG said.

"The motorsports category has suffered more than many others recently, as its high cost of entry in many cases fell victim to increased scrutiny over corporate marketing expenditures and questions about return on investment," said William Chipps, IEG Sponsorship Report's senior editor.

Last year was rough for NASCAR, which has an estimated 75 million fans and is one of the most popular U.S. sports, as lower corporate sponsorship spending forced many race teams to cut jobs and some to merge to survive, while race tracks saw lower attendance.

Among the companies that dropped out of motorsports sponsorships last year were Allstate Insurance, Brown-Forman Corp's Jack Daniels and Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc's Jim Beam, according to IEG. Nevertheless

However, NASCAR CEO Brian France said last month that things were stabilizing for his sport this season, which opens on Feb. 14 with the Dayton 500 race -- dubbed the Super Bowl of that sport by many analysts.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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