The American sports scene has long been dominated by large brands. Budweiser sideboards line soccer pitches, either Pepsi or Coke rule the concession stands, and stadium names range from Busch Stadium to Heinz Field to PPL Park. The big corporations are even plastered across the front of (almost) every MLS kit.
Since day one the Philadelphia Union have left room at the table for local, smaller companies. The Union's relationship with craft beer is a perfect example. Victory, a Downingtown brewery that is currently the 28th largest craft beer in the country, has been offered on the concourse.
Even the Sons of Ben have had a relationship with local craft brewery Yards. The Philadelphia based brewery released Sons of Ben: A Rowdy Style Ale in May of 2014 as a limited release available exclusively on draft in Union and SoB partner pubs. The brewery even agreed to share a portion of the proceeds with the William Trippley Charity.
As seven MLS clubs have signed on with Heineken as either their official beer, or official imported beer, sponsor for next year, the Union are moving in a very different direction. Along with Musselman's applesauce and Delaware Express, PPL Park will welcome Dogfish Head as a corporate sponsor. The press release from the team also mentioned an addition to the stadium, a Dogfish Head beer garden. This is good timing, as The Free Beer Movement just teamed up with Backheel to design MLS kits with local craft beer logos as kit sponsors. Yes, you guessed it. The Philadelphia Union were featured with Dogfish Head replacing Bimbo.
So who is Dogfish Head?
The Milton, Delaware brewery is the 13th largest craft brewery in the country and also owns a brewpub in Rehoboth and an Inn in Lewes. Just like Google or Pixar are centered around a company culture that drives the atmosphere and mission of the company, Dogfish Head has their own company culture that is evident in everything they do. "Off-centered ales for off-centered people" is the motto for the brewery and everything they do is the definition of that.
Their new bottling facility and warehouse, nicknamed the Off-centered Center, has an all wood exterior, off-centered roofline (fitting right?) and their patented font wherever there is wording. They don't do things half way, purchasing a one-of-a-kind bottling system, their founder travels across the world to find the right ingredients, and in front of the brewery are two impressive bocce ball courts.
What does this mean for the Philadelphia Union and the fans? If they are going to be putting their name on a beer garden it is going to be done right, it is going to be unique, and it is going to be a place that is great to hang out at. If you were on the fence about getting season tickets this season and love good beer...this partnership should convince you to re-Doop.