Source Pravda.Ru

Microsoft becomes ‘first founding partner’ of new Wembley Stadium

U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp. announced a seven-figure sponsorship deal Thursday with the owners of the new Wembley Stadium. The five-year deal makes Microsoft the stadium's first "founding partner," a title the stadium is reserving for only its largest sponsors and which comes loaded with perks.

Wembley, which is home of England's national soccer team, will be wired with the latest information technology from Microsoft as it enters the final stages of its 757 million pound (US$1.3 billion; Ђ1.1 billion) rebuild.

In return, Microsoft's logo will be seen by millions passing through the stadium's turnstiles when it reopens in May 2006, as the deal allows the company to place 100 branded "plaques" around the stadium. Microsoft will also get a box on the halfway line and exclusive use of the 90,000-seat venue for one day each year, the AP reports.

The new stadium, crowned by a 130-meter (440-foot) arch, is already a landmark on the north London skyline. If the stadium is finished in time, it will host next year's FA Cup Final and the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final, as well as live events including a concert by Bon Jovi.

Barley said that Microsoft was drawn by the challenge of producing the huge technology infrastructure needed by a venue of Wembley's size as well as the branding opportunity. A.M.