Toyota, Audi to sponsor Yanks in '09

Toyota, Audi to sponsor Yanks in '09

NEW YORK -- Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said Tuesday that Toyota and Audi will take over as the club's auto sponsors when the team's new stadium opens next year. The new deals are for ballpark signage, as was the previous contract with General Motors Corp.

General Motors was a Yankees sponsor from 2006-08 but is not a sponsor for the upcoming season.

"We understand their financial condition," Trost said of GM. "I think it was a mutual understanding."

GM spokesman John McDonald said that in light of the current economic conditions, the automaker is reviewing all of its sponsorship activities as part of a plan to cut its marketing and promotions budget by 20 percent.

In addition, contracts with about six other Major League teams expire at the end of this year, and those deals are being reviewed as well.

GM also recently decided against renewing a similar contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but its broader contract with MLB runs through 2010.

Last month, GM's Buick brand said it was concluding its marketing contract with Tiger Woods one year early. That contract was valued at $7 million per year.

The automaker said in September that it would not air a TV advertisement during the 2009 Super Bowl. That came after the announcement that it was also passing on airing ads during the Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards.

McDonald said he couldn't comment on the values of the contracts involved or the amount of money GM expected to save by eliminating them.