It wasn’t until 2007 that Major League Soccer allowed its teams to sell the space on the front of their jerseys. Although some teams did not jump into multimillion-dollar deals with major companies right away, most clubs have now signed large contracts with both international and local businesses and in the process made use of the empty space on the front of their home and away jerseys.
Jersey sponsorships in MLS are reportedly in the $55.8 million range for 2015, and while that money may be low in comparison to the $70 million annual deal that Manchester United alone has with Chevrolet, it’s a step in the right direction for MLS as a burgeoning, young league.
The growing revenue stream for MLS jersey sponsors is coming from a diverse group of companies with Health & Nutrition, Financial, Food & Beverage, Airline, and others all represented. There has even been an increased presence from local companies who are beginning to enter into sponsorship deals with MLS clubs more frequently. Chicago, Orlando, Canadian clubs, and others have found these close-to-home sponsors and each is benefitting from them.
The Chicago Fire have been partners with Quaker since 2012 when the companies agreed to a 3 year deal worth $8 million. Having renewed in 2015 for an undisclosed amount, Quaker is back for the 2015 season. Both the Chicago Fire and Quaker have agreed to use their partnership to demonstrate the importance of personal fitness and healthy eating to thousands in the Chicago area.
The Colorado Rapids signed a two-year deal with financial services company Transamerica that covers the 2015 and 2016 MLS seasons. The agreement comes after a failed partnership with Ciao Telecom – the club’s first ever sponsor – broke down. The Rapids are hoping this new deal will be far more stable and secure for the club moving forward.
The Columbus Crew have also partnered with a more local company, shaving cream producer Barbasol, signing their 5-year deal in 2012. Barbasol is owned by Perio Products Co., which is located in Dublin, Ohio just 20 minutes from Columbus. The financial terms of the deal remain undisclosed, but the deal is known to be the most lucrative in the team’s history.
Leidos, a government contracting company involved in health, security, and engineering, is the company whose name has been sprawled across the front of DC United’s newest jerseys since 2014. The financial terms of the contract were not revealed, however the deal is comparable to the club’s last sponsorship with Volkswagon, and is thought to be 3-5 years in length and worth roughly $3 million yearly.
FC Dallas’ first ever jersey sponsor, and their sponsor for 2015 season, is Advocare. The two signed an agreement in 2012 and haven’t looked back since, even extending the deal’s livelihood into 2020 prior to the 2014 season. Just a half-hour from the center of Dallas, Advocare is yet another local business getting its grips in an MLS franchise and helping them to grow and succeed.
Related Reading: How well do you know your jersey sponsors for English Premier League Teams?
When the Houston Dynamo’s jersey sponsor Greenstar Recycling terminated their agreement with the club just before the 2013 season, the Texas club went without sponsor until July 2014 when BHP Billiton became the name on the chest of Dynamo players. The financial terms of the deal were not revealed, but it does reach into the 2017 season with a two-year option to extend.
Los Angeles Galaxy
The longest and most lucrative deal in MLS belongs to none other than the LA Galaxy, who in 2012 announced a ten-year extension to their sponsorship agreement with Herbalife – an extension that would take them into 2022. The deal, worth $44 million in total, is the largest and longest in MLS history. Herbalife joined sides with the Galaxy all the way back in 2007 and it looks as if the two will not be parting ways for nearly another decade.
The Montreal Impact are just one of the MLS teams that BMO Financial Group sponsors, but the Impact are closest to home. BMO’s corporate head office is located in the Canadian City of Montreal making them yet another local business supporting MLS. Both organizations signed their deal in 2011 in preparation for Montreal’s inaugural MLS season in 2012. The deal lasts five years and is thought to be in the vicinity of $4 million per year.
New England Revolution
UnitedHealthcare is the New England Revolution’s first and only jersey sponsor in club history, with the two joining forces back in 2011. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but it is known to be a multiyear deal. Having been signed four years ago, it is likely Revolution fans will be hearing more about this in the future.
New York City FC
Following suit of their sister club, Manchester City, New York City FC has adopted the same jersey colors and sponsors as their comrades in Manchester. Etihad Airways is that sponsor, and the airline company has the privilege of being the jersey sponsor for both teams. New York has agreed to a five-year deal with Etihad, the financial terms remaining a mystery.
New York Red Bulls
The New York Red Bulls are the exception to the jersey sponsorship theme in MLS, as their jersey sponsor is also their owner. Red Bull bought out the New York Metros in 2006 and now owns, operates, and sponsors the team. The energy drink company paid in excess of $100 million for the Metros, and as such has their iconic red bulls butting heads on the front of all New York Red Bull jerseys.
Orlando City SC
Orlando City is one of the latest to join MLS and is also yet another to add a jersey sponsor of local origin. Orlando Health has been the Lions’ sponsor since their USL Pro days, dating back to 2011. This made Orlando City the first MLS team to have a jersey partner before even being admitted to MLS. The financial terms were not disclosed to the public, but the deal was extended into the clubs first few years of MLS tenure in 2013.
Bimbo Bakeries USA signed a four-year agreement with the Philadelphia Union in 2011 to become the club’s newest jersey sponsor. That deal was then extended by a length of five years in 2014, just a year before the contract entered its final season. The financial terms are not known but they are valued at about $11 million over the five-year span.
Signing a contract in 2010 in preparation for the Portland Timbers first ever MLS season, Alaska Airlines became the first ever jersey sponsor of the Pacific Northwest club. Also the first Airline sponsor in MLS, Alaska Airlines extended their deal with the Timbers by multiple years in 2014. The Airline even has a Portland Timbers themed jet, compete with club crest and colors.
Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake boasts one of the longest deals in MLS, with their agreement with LifeVantage rumored to be worth $30 million over 10 years. The deal is understood to be one of the most groundbreaking in the league. LifeVantage is nearby Real as well, and marks another local business making a serious impact in MLS.
San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes are the only MLS team to go without a jersey sponsor for the 2015 season. The Californian club was known to be in talks with their stadium sponsor, Avaya, over the possibility of a shirt sponsorship, but both parties decided it would be best to leave the naming to the stadium. San Jose’s last jersey sponsor was Amway who covered the fronts of Earthquakes jerseys from 2009-2011.
When the Seattle Sounders joined MLS in 2009 they signed an agreement with Xbox, whose green themed gaming consoles matched up nicely with the highly recognizable rave green colors of Seattle’s newest sports franchise. When the deal was extended through the 2016 season its terms were not disclosed, but it is assumed that the deal exceeds the partnership’s original deal of $20 million over five years.
Sporting Kansas City
Ivy Funds financial group made headlines when they revealed their multiyear deal with Sporting Kansas City at the 2013 MLS Superdraft. The deal was then extended just a year later to take the two organizations through the 2022 season with $2.5 million per year going to Kansas City.
Toronto FC is the second team sponsored by BMO Financial and even though the company is local to Montreal, its chairman, president, and other senior executives work out of the Toronto offices – making it a pseudo-local business injecting its funds into the success of MLS. BMO joined Toronto in 2007 when the Canadian club joined the MLS. The deal was renewed in 2010, but then allowed to expire in 2014. Toronto was known to be actively searching for a new sponsor, but ultimately ended up signing a brand new deal with BMO in 2015 for more than $4 million per year.
Telecommunications company Bell Canada signed a multimillion-dollar deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011, and even extended the deal in 2013. It is thought to be in the realm of more than $4 million per year.
The diversity of the corporations sponsoring MLS teams can only be good for both parties involved, as the corporations gain huge amounts of exposure to a new audience and the clubs themselves receive funds that they then funnel into improving the team and organization. Local companies investing in MLS sides is becoming a theme and only further increases the footprint of each MLS club in their respective city.
All Images courtesy of the team’s official instagram account.
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