Interview with Tim Martin

san-joseOn the road tonight, but in the spirit of our fifth anniversary, here is the first interview we conducted back in 2009.

We thought we would revisit an interview with Tim Marting of Gallagher sports.  Mr. Martin, a 10 year veteran of the sports marketing field and the President of soccer marketing entity Gallagher Sports, discussed the San Jose marketing deal in a recent article for ESPN.com.  Mr. Martin has worked for a number of major brands in an array of sports marketing categories and has negotiated tens of millions of dollars of sponsorship agreements.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions posed by Footiebusiness.com:

Footiebusiness.com:  Despite the obvious positives of bringing money to San Jose,  some fans have wondered whether adding Amway to the League’s other two multi-level marketing jersey sponsors (Xango & Herbalife) either diminishes the standing of the League or creates an association that could be harmful. Do you think those are legitimate concerns?

Tim Martin: They are certainly legitimate concerns, because each of those MLM’s has had noteworthy and seemingly legitimate legal and/or scientific complaints registered against them in the past.  At the end of the day, however, it needs to be a decision weighed, and ultimately made, by the club, based off of its unique goals and objectives.  We are also in an unprecedented economic environment where almost no industry is immune to public scrutiny when it comes to where they are spending what may be perceived to be the public’s money.  Two years ago an observer may very well have listed major financial institutions and auto makers as two of the best and most stable of industries from which a club could secure a shirt sponsor.  That was before congressional hearings and TARP funding became staples of the evening news broadcasts and cast major sponsorship funding in an entirely new light.  At times like this, there is risk in just about any sponsorship.  If there were 15 multi-level marketing companies across the front of MLS jerseys, it may be indicative of a problem.  3 of out 15, however speaks to sponsor category diversity.
FB: The League has been working hard to market the game to a younger, “hard core” fan base for a while now.  Do you think Amway’s product line a good match for this type of crowd? Who are they trying to attract?

TM: I do not think that Amway’s products are necessarily a good fit for such a target, however, without having a working knowledge of Amway’s marketing strategies, its difficult to say exactly who they are targeting, particularly because they are so diverse.  The one thing that I believe is safe to assume is that they find the Quakes (and MLS) a global medium for broadcasting their brand, and must feel that the impressions they will receive around the world are worthy of the investment.
FB: There are now four clubs without jersey sponsors.  Do you think sponsorships deals are in the works for those clubs?  Fans are amazed that teams like the Revs, Rapids and Dallas (with the power and business acumen of  Kraft, Kroenke, etc..)  have not landed a sponsorship.  In your mind, what are those teams looking for, and what should they be looking for in a deal?

T.M. I’m fairly certain that any club without a jersey sponsor is actively pursuing one.  Its far too great of a potential financial resource not to be.  Each club, however, will assign a different value to the front of their shirt, and by value I don’t just mean a certain sum of money, but also cognizance of the brand they are associating themselves with.  This is very relatable to your first question in that it all comes down to the goals and objectives of the club.  It’s possible that these remaining clubs have had offers from multi level marketers, or casinos, or tobacco companies, and simply choose not to go into business with them due to an organizational belief system (I have no first-hand knowledge of any such offers, just using that as an example).
F.B. Some of the first deals have now been in place for a couple of seasons.  Do you think that the sponsors have realized the intended benefits from these deals?

T.M. Again, not knowing each sponsors specific goals and objectives for striking these deals in the first place it’s impossible to say for certain how they feel these deals are working for them.  I think that at least one success story would be Glidden and the Columbus Crew.  First and foremost, they bought the sponsorship at what would today be considered a great value price of $1M per year.  Little could they possibly have known at the time that a former Boca Juniors legend would guide the franchise to its first title while providing the brand with unprecedented exposure in South America, on top of what they also obviously received in the States.  It can also be reasonably assumed that Herbalife has received adequate value back on their $4M+ investment through worldwide Beckham jersey sales alone, and the exposure that they provide.

Once again, many thanks to Tim Martin of Gallagher Sports. To the readers of Footiebusiness.com, what do you think about Amway coming into the League, or about shirt sponsors in MLS?

Soccer Business Bits: New Name, Great Offer & More

tv soccerThe big business news so far this week comes from Portland.  The Timbers and Throns have announced that Jeld-Wen Field has been renamed as Providence Park, as part of a multi-year partnership with Providence Health & Services.  In addition to hosting the two major league soccer teams, the Park will also host the Special Olympics Oregon Fall Games.  Reports suggest that the deal is for 15 years.  Jeld-Wen will maintain a relationship with the teams, but will take a significant step back with their role.  Per their website, Providence Health & Services is a not-for-profit Catholic health care ministry, and in 2011, Providence provided more than $651 million in community benefit, including nearly $204 million in free and discounted care for those who could not afford to pay for care.  As is true with many of these deals, the Timbers/Providence relationship will include community outreach and other components.

Also at the beginning of the week, the Houston Dynamo announced that season ticket holders will receive a free subscription to MLS Live as part of the 2014 season.  This is a great perk and a wonderful way to promote the team and the league to fans.  The subscription is not the only benefit for season ticket holders, including opportunities to have experiences with the team, including rally tunnels and other great opportunities.   MLSLive is one of the best offerings the league has and this shows great recognition of a team wishing to provide great value to fans.

Finally, it was reported that TSN will televise 90 games this year, a significant commitment to MLS by the Canadian sports channel.  It was also reported that NBCSN will televise the Sounders/TFC match in early March.

Five Years and Counting

wozardsOn Monday, the Portland Timbers announced a 15 year stadium naming rights deal.  Big news, but today is set aside for a bit navel gazing.

Today marks the start of year six of this website.   It has been a great ride and one that I hope to continue to enjoy and improve. When I started the site, I had no idea how long it would last, whether there was any interest in the business aspects of American soccer or whether anyone would read what I wrote.  Five years later,  I couldn’t be more pleased with how things have evolved.

Many journalists switch beats every so often because the subject matter gets stale and coverage repetitive, but the business of soccer keeps giving.  Since I started writing, the business developments in American soccer have come fast and furious.  New television deals, jersey sponsorships, expansion, stadium construction and an array of additional items continue to alter the business landscape of soccer in the United States.

I am gratified by the multitudes that come here every day for information about the business of the beautiful game and then keep coming back for more. It has been more fun and more challenging to bring fresh content on a daily basis than I ever could have imagined and it has been the feedback from readers that have motivated the site to continue to move forward.   So to our readers, we offer a big THANK YOU.st-louis

We’ve added some great guest authors, trivia, interviews and more.  Over the next few weeks we plan to have some great interviews with folks from all areas of soccer and business.  Keep coming back and you won’t be disappointed.

I am looking forward to a bigger and better sixth year and invite you to let me know what stories you want Footiebusiness to cover.  As always, if you have an interest in guest posting or just want to discuss the business of the game, feel free to drop a line to Footiebusiness@gmail.com

Thanks again for reading.

 

Ben

Monday After

nbcEPL coverage continued this weekend on the networks of NBC despite the Olympic games from Sochi.  Fans scrambling to find the Premier League on the usual channel like NBCSN were initially disappointed.  However, the games were moved to the USA Network and to the main broadcast channel for NBC.  It will be interesting to see how aggressively NBC uses the Olympics to promote its EPL telecasts and the sport of soccer.  Even though the relationship with MLS is presumed to be ending after this year, there is still a full season of matches to broadcast, promote and sell.  For those  who chose the online route, the games were also available over the internet during weekend.

Elsewhere, the newly minted Houston Dash have signed a five year jersey deal with BBVA Compass Bank to serve as the jersey sponsor for the team.  The Dash are set to begin their first season in 2014, and remarkably, they have a jersey sponsor before their MLS cousins.  The Houston Dynamo ownership group also owns the Dash.  Per the official press release, “[t]he Dash are the first expansion club in the NWSL, joining the eight original members that launched the league in 2013. The NWSL is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association, Federation of Mexican Football and the United States Soccer Federation.”

Finally, a former Portland Timber has sued the team, claiming that the failure to file a proper concussion protocol caused him to suffer permanent injuries and retire from soccer.  According to Oregon Live, lawsuit lists the Portland Timbers, Sports Medicine Oregon, orthopedic surgeon Jonathan Greenleaf, Timbers head athletic trainer Nik Wald and psychologist James Bryan as defendants.”  As this case matures, we will follow it in more detail and report here.

Some Thoughts on the Beckham Presser

miamiWednesday was the big day for soccer in Miami, with David Beckham joining the Commissioner and Mayor on  a podium in sunny Florida.  For those watching the press conference remotely, the event was notable for the Annie Lennox music while waiting for Beckham to arrive.  Once everyone arrived, the festivities were hosted by a “former” investigative reporter from the Miami area.  After an introduction, Beckham said a few words before Commissioner Garber took the microphone to discuss some of the details of the potential MLS franchise in Miami.  The Mayor concluded the opening remarks before the floor was opened to questions.

While the Q&A was largely of the softball variety, there were some notable business points that emerged.  First, the ownership group says it is not looking for public money.  Second, there is no temporary stadium or permanent stadium solution, which seems contradictory to former league edicts about a stadium deal.  Garber made it clear that Beckham’s option is contingent on a stadium project.   The involvement of Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure certainly can’t hurt and possible inclusion of LeBron James would be a significant shot in the arm.

The primary potential stadium location is in the middle of PortMiami.  Per Kyle McCarthy, “The working plan involves a privately-financed stadium on county-leased land as part of a larger rejuvenation of the area. The project will also presumably involve some sort of infrastructure improvements to address the inevitable traffic snarl given the dearth of routes to and from the island and the paucity of parking spaces available.”

All in all, the announcement was fairly low key.  Because it was Beckham and it was Mimi, the press conference generated national attention.  Now the league and ownership group must deliver a stadium deal in short order and start the process towards Miami in 2017.

Soccer Business Bits: Miami Story, MLSE & More

becks2We have been writing about Major League Soccer’s expansion to Miami for the last few days, but Wednesday is the big day, with the official announcement set from the Sunshine State at 10:00.  MLSSoccer.com will stream the presser, which will undoubtedly include David Beckham grinning from the podium.  Whether Becks can draw fans to soccer in Miami remains to be seen, but brand Beckham is a central component to the potential success of the franchise.  Beckham has rarely put a wrong step forward in managing his career, but this is a big jump for him and his reputation.  We will have more tomorrow.

The Sports Business Daily reported that TFC is 500 seats shy of selling out its season ticket inventory for 2014.  The team has had a 95% renew rate while selling an additional 2700 seats for the upcoming season.  The team is capping its season ticket sales for 2014 at 17,000.  The big signings have had a big impact on tickets.  The team has claimed that it is putting performance ahead of profit with the rash of big ticket players.

Finally, NYCFC offered fans a unique opportunity to design their own team badges.  Per the official website, the designs “will become a pixel of the official New York City FC team badge mosaic to be revealed in March of this year. This resulting “badge of badges” mosaic will become a lasting tribute to the founding fans of New York City’s newest sports team who were with them from the very beginning. The final Club badge mosaic will allow fans to zoom in to find their own design permanently displayed within the shield. A physical manifestation of the mosaic will also be on display in the Club’s permanent facilities.”

All About Miami

miamiSo it seems that this will be a week to focus on Miami.  Amazing that after the synchronized failures of Miami and Tampa Bay, MLS is planning on once again doubling down on the Sunshine State.  With Orlando ready to start play in a year, multiple sources are reporting that Beckham to Miami is a done deal, and a new soccer team will rise in either 2016 or 2017.  This blog is closing in on the start of its sixth year, and Miami has been the white whale since the first day that I wrote.  Before Beckham, there was FC Barcelona, and at the time, I staked out a position suggesting that Miami was a bad idea.  Some of the concerns I had then are still true, while others are no longer a problem.  Here is what I said then:

The Spanish powerhouse combined with Marcelo Claure and Florida International University to     submit a bid to bring MLS back to South Florida.  As MLS fans well know, the Miami Fusion entered the League as an expansion team in 1998 and were contracted just four years later.  That background, combined with South Florida’s rather weak history of supporting its teams (Florida Marlins anyone?), has lead many to scoff at any move back to the Miami area.  Add in the lack of a Soccer Specific Stadium (the team would share with the FIU Football team) and the Miami bid seems like a sure loser.

Count me among the unconvinced.  The “beloved” Miami Dolphins struggle to sell out their games, the Panthers are barely a blip on the Miami scene and Marlins are an annual embarassment.  Why would MLS be any different? The idea of 9,000 fans snoozing through Sunday afternoon game in 110 degree Miami August heat, is a nightmare scenario for supporters of the League.   MLS may love the idea of Barca dumping money into its coffers, but like Chivas before them, I see little chance of a big time soccer power adjusting to life in Major League Soccer.  League rules will not permit “Barca USA” to serve as a farm team of the parent club or as a way station for up and coming talents.  MLS should have no interest in serving as a marketing opportunity for the Spanish Giants.  As much as Barca might love the idea of selling jerseys in North America, I think the League would be far better served  taking $40 million from St. Louis and and Portland in 2011.

Can Miami succeed?  I remain skeptical.

 

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