Racing News

The World Inline Cup Experiences Growing Pains

Bont Pulls Plug on International Team ... Is the World Cup Growing Too Fast?

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

The World Inline Cup has been one of the bright spots in the inline fabric in recent years. Its continued growth has cheered skate fans and generated optimism.

But ironically, the very growth of the race series has created a problem: It has made it so expensive to support a World Cup team (due largely to all the world travel) that some sponsors are pulling out.

The latest sponsor to retreat is the Australian skate maker Bont, which announced today this it is pulling the plug on its international racing team.

The announcement appears at first glance to be bad news for the world's premier inline race series. But it may simply be a sign that the World Cup is growing up.

Bont International Will Be Missed

Bont International was one of only four teams to seriously contest the World Cup this year. It competed in all 18 events—including the three Asian and one U.S. marathon—and finished fourth in the final rankings.

Bont was probably disappointed with the team's fourth-place finish—and that may have played a role in its decision to drop the team. But the main reason appears to be money.

It costs 200,000 Euros a year (about $241,000 U.S.) to support an international racing team, according to Iguana Think Tank, the Swiss company that runs the 3-year-old race series.

That's a lot of money for a skate company, especially in these days of stagnant sales.

Alexander Bont, in an email about his company decision to drop its team, cited "the massive financial burden the WIC places on our company."

Fila also cited financial considerations when it announced in October that it was pulling the plug on its mighty racing team. (Go to Fila's statement.)

Change in Marketing Strategy

Bont is portraying its move as a change in its marketing strategy. (Fila portrayed its pull out as a "vacation.")

"Due to the massive financial burden," Alex Bont said, "... we have decided to change our marketing strategy for 2006."

"Instead of having one Bont team, we will have seven cosponsored Bont teams in Europe alone and we will retain Team Bont Korea, Taiwan, USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Canada, and Japan. We feel we can get more exposure for less money by working this way."

(Continued ...)

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Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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