Article republished on businessofsoccer.com
In light of the last week's announcement by the Philadelphia Union, revealing Mexico's largest food corporation, Bimbo, as the official jersey sponsor, we take a look at the current deals around Major League Soccer. As the league continues to grow, the demand for corporate sponsorship continues to increase.
However, four teams enter 2011 without a jersey sponsor (New England Revolution, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City). Colorado Rapids are confident about the potential for a jersey sponsor and FC Dallas has commented that a significant jersey deal is expected to be announced in 2011. Sporting KC recently commented that a stadium and kit sponsor deal is 'in the works.' Contrarily, Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew join the list of blank kits in the New Year as Best Buy and Glidden (owned by ICI Paints), respectively, decided not to extend the current deals with the MLS clubs.
During the State of the League in November 2010, MLS Commissioner, Dob Garber said,
"All but a handful of our teams have jersey front sponsors. We'll be announcing additional new sponsors probably during the next 30 to 45 days. Within the next year every one of our teams will likely have a jersey front sponsor."
Twelve clubs will feature sponsors on the front of jerseys in the upcoming season.
D.C. United, Volkswagen
The current deal with VW is through 2012. The pair agreed to the terms in 2008 - 5 years, estimated $3 million annually. The deal includes an interactive area (known as the Volkswagen Garage), which provides VW with showroom space behind the north goal at RFK Stadium. In addition, the automaker will become a sponsor of the club's Soccer Celebration event.
Chivas USA, Extra
The Los Angeles based club, whose parent team is sponsored by Bimbo, featured blank jerseys during the 2010 season. An initial sponsorship deal was reached with Comex in 2007 and lasted for three seasons, worth a total of $6 million. Replacing Comex is Extra, a Mexican convenience store chain owned by Grupo Modelo. Details of the sponsorship have not been disclosed but appears to be the result of the President of Chivas USA's connection to Grupo Modelo.
Though no official announcement has been made, it appears Corona will be the official kit sponsor for the 2011 season, following a leak on FootballShirtCulture.com. No details of the new deal have been released. [updated]
Houston Dynamo, Amigo Energy
The club reach obtained its first kit sponsor in 2007. Amigo Energy signed a four year deal worth an estimated $7.5 million total through the past 2010 season. Greenstar Recycling has since replaced the energy company as the official kit sponsor of the Dynamo. The announcement was made in December 2010. The deal is five years, worth an estimated $12.7 million. In addition, Greenstar Recycling will be visible through the club's new stadium, scheduled to be open in 2012. [updated]
Los Angeles Galaxy, Herbalife
The most lucrative deal in Major League Soccer was announced in 2008, following the transfer of David Beckham to the Galaxy in 2007. The deal, which goes through the current 2011 season, has an estimated value of $3.5 to $5 million each year - a bargain considering the 300,000 Beckham/Galaxy jerseys sold during the season prior to the start of the deal.
New York Red Bulls, Red Bull
Originally the New York / New Jersey MetroStars, the club was rebranded for the start of the 2006 regular season following the acquisition by Red Bull from the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The deal was initially reported to be worth $30 million, but the inclusion of naming rights to the new stadium (now Red Bull Arena) increased the cost to $50 million.
Philadelphia Union, Bimbo
Despite much controversy, the Union announced their partnership with Bimbo last week. Though often mispronounced (correctly pronounced Beem-bo), the world's largest bakery is established in the world of soccer and offers significant benefits to the community. The four year, $12 million deal will finally provide the club with a jersey sponsor, as well as expanded promotion in many of the retail locations that Bimbo places its products (including Arnold and Enternmann's). In addition, Bimbo will become a sponsor of the "Soccer Mom of the Year" promotion and has pledged to support youth soccer in the local community.
Portland Timbers, Alaska Airlines
One of Major League Soccer's two storied expansion clubs for the upcoming season announced its jersey sponsor at the release of its new kit. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal will however commit the airline to supporting the Portland Timbers Community Fund for youth-based fitness and educational needs. Alaska Airlines, the first airline sponsor in the MLS, has also committed itself to the club's youth soccer camps and "Tickets for Kids" program, providing 25 tickets to each home match, to underprivileged youth in the Portland-area
Real Salt Lake, XANGO
2009 MLS Cup Champions announced XANGO as its kit sponsor for the start of the 2007 season. A four year deal worth between $4 and 5 million annually was extended in 2009. The deal is now through the 2013 season.
San Jose Earthquakes, Amway Global
The Earthquakes formalized a sponsorship with Amway in 2009. The three year deal through the current 2011 season provides the club with $2-3 million each year. No additional details of the agreement have been disclosed.
Seattle Sounders, XBOX
The Sounders have had a sponsor emblazoned on their kits since 2008. The Redmond, Washington based company, Microsoft, has chosen to market XBOX across the green and navy kits. The 5 year deal is worth an estimated $16-18 million total. In addition to sponsoring the kits, the deal names the XBOX 360 as the 'Official Game Console of Major League Soccer' and provides naming rights to the pitch, 'Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.'
Toronto F.C, BMO
The club has seen much success with its jersey sponsor, BMO. The four year deal, which started in 2007, was worth $1.5 million annually. To the delight of Toronto, BMO has opted to extend the deal for five years at $4 million per year - more than doubling the previous terms.
Vancouver Whitecaps F.C., Bell
The second of Major League Soccer's 2011 expansion clubs unveiled Bell as a Premier Founding Partner. Though financial terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, the agreement will enable Bell to provide exclusive mobile content to fans, provide $100,000 annually to the Whitecaps Foundation, and allow Vancouver and Bell to establish a Sport Innovation Council, which allows Bell to test and implement the latest technology, using the club as a testing ground.
Major League Soccer permitted kit sponsorships to appear on the front for the start of the 2007 season. Previously, sponsors were limited to the back of kits, as a part of league-wide deals benefiting the MLS. Sponsorships are now dealt with individually through each club. Few clubs remain with blank kits, but plans to bring sponsors to all eighteen teams is in discussion.
One advantage Major League Soccer has over other sports in the United States?
"MLS is the only sport where you can go to the White House and hold up a jersey with a corporate name on it," said Doug Quinn, FC Dallas President.