Few things differentiate the business Major League Soccer from the other major American sports than the availability of the teams’ jersey fronts to potential sponsors. Over the last few years, major companies such as Best Buy and VW have paid significant dollars to put their names on the uniforms of the teams of MLS. Both Portland and Vancouver are entering the league with prominent jersey sponsors and Commissioner Garber announced during MLS Cup that multiple new sponsors would be announced in the coming months. It seemed high times for the league and important source of revenue.
Yet it is not all roses on the jersey sponsorship front. Although rumors are swirling about a Union sponsor, the second year franchise went its entire first season without a sponsor. Neither of the teams in MLS Cup 2010 had a jersey sponsor and long standing franchises in New England and Kansas City have been without since their inception. Perhaps even more alarmingly, Chicagp lost its longstanding jersey sponsor Best Buy and the Crew announced the jersey sponsorship relationship with Glidden would not be renewed.
Jersey sponsorships bring revenue to the teams and allow spending on additional players. Also, in a world where MLS is fighting for credibility among hard core soccer fans, jersey sponsorships provide credibility and a sense of “arrival”. For the sake of the league, hopefully Garber’s predictions will come to fruition and a number of sponsorships will be announced before the end of the season.