In Columbus, the Crew have announced a local partnership with Panera Bread while confirming that previous sponsors Pepsi, Anheuser Busch, Ohio Department of Safety, Subway, Ohio Lottery, Sugardale and Value City Furniture. The arrangement with Panera includes a retail promotion for family night, a poster giveaway and ad time on the Crew’s English radio broadcasts. The deal is actually through an individual franchisee of Panera. The Pepsi/Anheuser Busch deals are noteworthy because this is the first season that MLS teams are free to enter into agreements with this league sponsors on a team level. As of this year, MLS teams are free to make deals with competitors of these companies for local sponsorship rights.
Elsewhere, the publicity blitz to get recognition for RSL’s upcoming match in Rio Tinto for CONCACAF Champions League hardware has been nothing short of impressive. The team has always done a great job of getting its players and staff onto local media outlets, but the team and league have expanded those efforts to national networks like CNN and additional coverage is expected on ESPN. According to this article from The Sporting News, the team has also managed to parlay the increased interest generated revenue including two new long term sponsorships. According to the same article the tournament has drawn more than 11 million total viewers.
One final business note. The Revs defeated DC United before just under 2k in Maryland as part of the US Open Cup. The game was carried only by internet radio and was not available on television. The small crowd and the lack of coverage speaks to the relative unimportance of the Open Cup on the US soccer landscape. While the Champions League has enjoyed significantly increased importance, the Open Cup has fallen behind.