Earlier this month, MLS held a fashion show in New York City to officially debuted each club’s jersey. Celebrities, athletes, gamers, and influencers all took part to raise awareness and kickstart the countdown to the 2020 season. While some here at GESM are more in-tune with fashion than others, we all care about the league and each team’s jersey sponsors – the logos of which also made their runway debuts.
As we continue our countdown of MLS-themed stories ahead of the league’s 25th season, we dove into what’s new in jersey sponsorship across the league.
New entrants Inter Miami have yet to announce a jersey partner; however, there are rumors abound of a potential Qatar Foundation deal in the works that would cover not just jersey rights, but also stadium naming rights. If the two sides were to come to an agreement, the reported financial value – if true – would be a huge boon for the franchise.
Up the Atlantic coast in Philadelphia, the Union renewed their partnership with Bimbo Bakeries, but have added a new, interesting wrinkle to their jersey partnership. The Bimbo logo will remain on the primary jersey as it has since the club’s debut in 2010; however, the secondary jersey will now have Sara Lee brand, Artesano, across the torso. The idea of a split branding across the primary and secondary jerseys is a new thing in MLS and for an umbrella brand with 20+ subsidiary brands, it helps Bimbo Bakeries show off more of their portfolio. To hear more of our thoughts on this move from Bimbo Bakeries and the Philadelphia Union jump to 16:58 in the latest edition of our podcast where we discuss that and more sponsor-related topics.
Over in the Western Conference, there are two jersey sponsor-related items worth discussing. Unlike Inter Miami, fellow debutants Nashville announced their first ever jersey partner, Renasant Bank. In September of 2019, the club and Mississippi-headquartered bank announced a four-year partnership that sees Renasant become the Official Banking Partner of the club. In addition to logo inclusion on primary, secondary, and academy jerseys, Renasant will also offer banking members the option of dual-branded debit cards. You can read more about their partnership here.
Heading west to San Jose, the Earthquakes have a new jersey sponsor for 2020. Following the departure of Sutter Health, the Earthquakes have added telecommunications company and Sunnyvale, CA-based Intermedia as partners. Intermedia offers easy-to-use communication and collaboration solutions to over 125,000 businesses and their partners… including the Earthquakes who will use Intermedia inner-organization communication.
Although teams like D.C. United had a sleeve sponsor in 1996, the real estate market for sleeves disappeared. However, in the 2019 season, Target and LAFC announced a sleeve partnership, ushering in a new era. As we enter the 2020 season, three additional clubs will debut their sleeve partners, which, according to The Athletic, can fetch anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million in sponsor deals.
For MLS, the re-introduction of sleeve sponsors is the next evolution in increasing each club’s sponsor portfolio. In the early days of the league, brands like Mastercard and Bandai adorned non-traditional real estate on league jerseys. While those sponsorships and for-sale real estate disappeared, MLS has matured significantly and several clubs now have real, tangible value to sell beyond just the torso. Could sleeves be a great landing place for betting / gambling / entertainment companies? It’s certainly a possibility and something we’ve discussed here at our office.