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Published: Sunday, 7/14/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Marathon sponsorships go beyond LPGA event

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Marathon Petroleum, the title sponsor of the Marathon Classic, presented by Owens Corning and O-I, is defined in many ways.

The fourth biggest company in Ohio.

A Fortune 500 refining, marketing, and transportation company.

An independent offshoot of the bigger Marathon Oil.

Marathon Petroleum, it turns out, is also a big sports fan.

The company’s partnership with Toledo Classic Inc. is one in a long line of agreements it has with athletic events and teams, with many residing within a few hours of its Findlay headquarters.

2013 MARATHON CLASSIC: Fan Guide

According to a Marathon spokesman, the company has sponsorship agreements with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, MLB’s Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Deals also are in place with various colleges as well as the Mid-American Conference football championship game, which is held at Detroit’s Ford Field. The company has a personal services agreement with Hall of Fame NASCAR driver Richard Petty.

“Our sponsorship areas present a lot of schools from where we recruit young employees,” Marathon spokesman Brandon Daniels said. “When we sponsor a tournament, not only does it increase our presence in the schools where we do the recruiting, it also supports the education for our future generations.”

Marathon also sponsors Toledo-born Stacy Lewis — the second-ranked golfer in the world — which was key to it its deal with the Toledo Classic. That partnership, struck about a year ago, opened the company’s eyes to the potential impact to be made at the LPGA tournament at Highland Meadows.

Formerly known as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, in honor of the Toledo actor Jamie Farr, Marathon announced in January a multi-year deal to be the title sponsor of the summer event in Sylvania.

“We look at this as a flagship event for Toledo,” Daniels said. ”When the idea was presented to us to become the title sponsor we realized we had a real opportunity to not only help the tournament grow and achieve some of its goals, but to support some of the local charities in the Toledo region, in southeast Michigan, and also charities in Findlay. We saw an opportunity to give back and also shine a spotlight on Toledo.”

Marathon Petroleum, with 2012 revenues of $76.8 billion, ranked the fourth-biggest publicly traded company in Ohio and the 33rd in the U.S. Athletics appears to be a big reason for that. In addition to sponsoring teams and events, Marathon Petroleum built a youth baseball complex in Findlay and will sponsor the Komen Race for the Cure later this year in Findlay.

“If you look at our history I’d say our sponsorships are evolutionary,” Daniels said. “We’re stepping into markets in which we might not have prior experience but we see opportunities.”

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.



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