The Business of Opening Day

soundersWith the curtain going up on the 2009 campaign, we thought we would offer some comments on the business aspects of the Seattle/NY game.  We”ll touch on advertising, presentation, attendance and more.  With the match going up against March Madness, the NIT, the NBA and the WBC, it will be interesting to see how many viewers ESPN2  draws.   Also, check the bottom of the post for a note about RSL.

ESPN came just a few seconds away from bungling opening night when the NIT game almost went into overtime (still went about 10 minutes over).  X-Box Live was definitely prominent in the stadium during the intro and the VW pre-game with Stone and Lalas was well done.  There was some interesting comments about the business aspects of the Beckahm circus from Lalas, and a teaser for an expansion announcement at half time.  The commercials started off with some big names, VW, Dick’s and Penzoil, but soon degenerated into some pretty poor local spots.  Seems that MLS is still not a big target for national sponsors buying ad time.

I was also surprised by the lack of in game sponsorship.  There were no ads in the corner of the screen or “this portion of the match sponsored by”.  Such ads are repugnant to some European soccer fans, but represent a potential strong revenue source for MLS.

At the half, the Commissioner all but announced Portland as the next expansion team and laid out his case for why MLS won the Beckham saga.  The crowd looked and sounded great and the home team didn’t dissapoint.  All in all, a great night for MLS and a great night for Seattle.

RSL announced Jet Blue as an official sponsor today.  The deal includes signage, promotions and special offers for RSL fans.  Salt Lake City is Jet Blue’s second biggest hub.  According to this article, RSL has also signed on with Burger King, Anheiser-Busch and more.  Rio Tinto stadium is a big draw for these advertisers, because the signage and stadium advertising includes events other than soccer.  The article also announces a new TV deal for the team. rsl