SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced Wednesday that Ingles will serve as the title sponsor of the league’s men’s and women’s basketball championships in Asheville, North Carolina, through 2021. The tournaments will be officially known as the Ingles Southern Conference Basketball Championships presented by General Shale.
The deal continues a longstanding partnership between the SoCon and Ingles, which became a corporate sponsor and the official grocery store of the league in December 2014. Prior to that, SoCon and Ingles worked together, along with Eblen Charities, on the Hoops Against Hunger and Headlock on Hunger campaigns to provide disadvantaged children access to food during break times from school.
“We’re delighted to increase our promotional efforts with Ingles on a higher plane and welcome them as our title sponsor,” SoCon Commissioner John Iamarino said. “In the 30-plus years I’ve served in a conference office, I’ve never worked with a corporate partner that has activated with us as thoroughly as Ingles. Their team is extremely creative and knowledgeable about the mission of the Southern Conference and its members. We’re eagerly looking to build on the past success we’ve enjoyed with Ingles.”
Based in Asheville, Ingles was founded by third-generation grocer Robert Ingle in 1963. Focusing on smaller towns and rural communities, the store soon expanded into the neighboring states of South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Today, the chain boasts approximately 200 stores with annual sales of nearly $4 billion.
“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with the Southern Conference. Each year we look forward to bringing the tournament back to Asheville to showcase the wonderful schools in the conference,” said Ron Freeman, CFO Ingles Markets.
Under the terms of the new deal, Ingles’ logo will be incorporated into the existing tournament logo and will have increased visibility throughout ExploreAsheville.com Arena at the U.S. Cellular Center, home of the SoCon basketball championships. Ingles will hold first right of refusal to supply VIP hospitality and media meals at the tournaments and will now offer in-store presale of tournament tickets in select locations. Ingles will also remain the presenting sponsor of the Ingles JamFest, a free concert and tailgate party on Sunday of the tournament.
The partnership extends beyond basketball, as Ingles will pledge $3 for each made field goal in football, $2 for each made 3-pointer in basketball and $1 for every strikeout in baseball for participating league schools.
The 2019 Ingles SoCon Basketball Championships presented by General Shale are March 7-11. The women’s title game will take place Sunday, March 10, at noon Eastern on either ESPN3 or ESPN+, followed by the men’s title game on Monday, March 11, at 7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Tickets will go on sale in early November.