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Hendrick Sponsors, Helps Save Middle School Sports

All middle school sports at CMS are saved this year, thanks in part to a sponsorship by Hendrick Automotive Group. Many sports, including soccer and baseball, had been axed. But Hendrick is paying 250-thousand dollars to prevent that, and have its name seen and heard at all middle and high school games. Let's say you go watch Butler High School defend its state championship in football this fall. There's a break in the action, and the PA announcer comes on: "Time for an update on the first half stats, brought to you by Hendrick Automotive Group!" Even though the Butler Athletic Booster Club won't get any money for that sponsorship, its president Gary Larson is OK with it. "I think CMS has gotten themselves a good deal, and if it was able to salvage middle school sports, you really can't put a price value on that," Larson said. Hendrick put up $250,000 to make sure Charlotte-Mecklenburg middle schools will offer all the usual sports this year. In return, it becomes an official sponsor at all CMS middle and high school sports events. That means signs at all the games, naming rights for stats announced during breaks, and recognition as a CMS partner at the end of games. Larson said he hopes the Hendrick sponsorship will encourage other businesses to work out similar deals. "If they have naming rights to some of the statistics, then CMC or Bank of America might want to come forward and want to sponsor some of the fields and some of the scoreboards and things like that," Larson said. "If they're able to do that, it's a win-win." The Hendrick deal runs out after this year.