Soccer Business: Banks Galore and More

Over the last couple of days, both of Major League Soccer’s 2011 expansion teams have made key “Founding Partner” announcements involving local banking institutions.  The Portland Timbers announced that Key Bank will be the exclusive banking partner of the Timbers starting in 2011.  The relationship will include a Key Bank Club and Plaza at the Timbers’ newly renovated home. The Key Bank Club wiull be located at midfield and will include a full service restaurant and indoor/outdoor seating areas.

Not to be outdone, Vancouver announced BMO as its initial founding partner.  The four year deal will focus on the Whitecaps youth soccer initiatives and will give BMO a relationship with both of Canada;s MLS franchises.  The relationship will include opportunities for more than 100 local youths to participate in events surrounding Whitecaps home matches at the newly renovated BC Place.  Speaking of the Vancouver, the team also stated that the team has surpassed 15,000 season ticket deposits this week.  Given historical conversion rates of deposits, this figure bodes well for 2011 Whitecaps attendance.

Finally, kudos to ESPN for its rotating studio show in MLS pre-games.  They’ve relied up on Angel, McBride and Twellman in the last couple of weeks and the variety has added to the show.  So far, Bretos and Lalas have been willing to ask the tough questions of the players to which fans want answers.

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MLS Playoff Broadcast Schedule

Major League Soccer has announced its broadcast schedule for the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs.  Every game of the first round will be part of a national broadcast with ESPN/ESPN2 showing 4 games, FSC showing 2 games and Telefutura showing 2 games.  The Telefutura matches will also be shown on the respective teams local broadcast partners.

Not surprisingly, the Galaxy/Sounders match gets two games on the Worldwide Leader including the lone ESPN match.  The 8:00 p.m. start time probably runs into some Halloween conflicts across the country, but it is nice to see all games starting at a reasonable hour on the East Coast.  Both of those matches promise large crowds and energized environments which should make for good television.  The Halloween game does go up against Sunday Night Football and the World Series, but will probably offer commerical relief for fans of the traditional sports.  Catching a glimpse of Beckham/Donovan or the scene at Qwest will provide a benefit to the league.

Telefutura and ESPN2 will flip the San Jose/New York matchups and Columbus Colorado.  As we have previously stated, the Thursday night New York game will provide the most interesting test of event ticket sales.  Can the Red Bulls Front Office get 20,000 on what will likely be a cold weeknight in Harrison.

FSC will get both legs of RSL/Dallas on consecutive Saturday nights.  Continuity between the broadcasts will be welcome and we expect FSC to trot out its number one MLS broadcast team.  RSL is aggressively selling tickets and will likely generate heavy interest in Salt Lake City.  Chained to a short turn around, Dallas may be hard pressed to sell a substantial number of tickets.