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No major sponsor for Sting 26 - Budget short by approximately $10m

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Isaiah Laing, head of Supreme Promotions, which stages the huge Sting concert on Boxing Day annually, says that at the event's launch on Tuesday evening he was playing on the number 26.

Not only is the 2009 staging less than a month away, the concert's 26th anniversary and will be held (as usual) on December 26, but Laing was 26 years old when he started Sting in 1984. And he was born on May 26.

However, there are other numbers weighing heavily on his mind: $30 million and $10 million. The first is what the event cost to put on last year, a sum he does not want to exceed this year. The latter figure is how much he is short by, as of speaking with THE STAR on Wednesday evening.

"Right now our budget is about $10 million short," Laing said.

Still, he is confident that the show must and will go on at Jam World, Portmore, St Catherine. He intends to keep the same ticket price as last year - $1,500 presold and $2,000 at the gate.

Key to the shortfall is sponsorship - more specifically, a lack of it. Since Guinness gave up title sponsorship of Sting, they have not had a sponsor pick up that huge role. "When they (Guinness) were title, we were really, really happy with them," Laing said.

pouring rights

The drink brand did retain 'pouring rights', significantly much less financial commitment. Laing still hopes that for Sting 2010 "they can do much better and come back as a major sponsor".

However, there is a much more immediate need and Laing says Sting does not have sponsorship in its all-important platinum, gold and silver categories.

A platinum sponsor is required to put in US$500,000 on a three-year commitment and gets title sponsorship. A contribution of US$200,000 secures a gold categorisation and presenting sponsorship status, while an investment of US$90,000 is necessary for silver, or service sponsorship.

The Supreme Ventures head knows exactly which organisation he was - and still is - looking to for sponsorship. "We are looking to the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) for some money. At one stage it looked like it was going to happen. The other two festivals got enormous amounts of sponsorship," Laing told THE STAR.

Those are the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in January and Reggae Sumfest in July, both events held in Montego Bay, St James.

"They are our junior. This is the longest-running reggae show, maybe in the world, and certainly in the hemisphere," Laing said.

"I was looking for even US$300,000. The other one (Jazz and Blues) got US$500,000. I know they look at us as outcasts, dancehall, so if I got US$200,000, I would be happy. Even US$100,000," Laing said.

See the full story of Sting's sponsorship woes in the Entertainment section of The Sunday Gleaner.

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