Soccer Business Bits: New Jersey Spnosor & Soccer in Queens

Back from our anniversary break.  The big business story of the last few days was the announcement that FC Dallas has finally landed a full time jersey sponsor.  Texas based health and fitness company AdvoCare has inked a 3.5 year multimillion dollar deal to serve as the team’s first true shirt sponsor.  Recall that FC Dallas had a brief flirtation with for a couple of games but this is the first permanent relationship for the team.  This deal further cements a longstanding relationship between AdvoCare and FC Dallas.  According to the Dallas Business Journal, “the company has sponsored the Independence Bowl in Shreveport for the past four years, the No. 3 car of Richard Childress Racing in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, and the Labor Day race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.”

The relationship with AdvoCare is yet another MLS/Multi-level marketing partnership.   Herbalife, Xango and Amway are other MLM relationships. This bucks the recent iconic trend in MLS, with Barbasol and Quaker entering the fold.  The amount of deal is not yet available, other than a statement that it is worth “multi-millions”.  For reference, the recent Fire deal with Quaker  is a reported $8million over 3 years.

Some time ago we reported that Major League Soccer’s efforts to place a team in New York had pivoted to focus on stadium location rather than owner.  The league had made a concerted decision to seal a stadium location before finding a willing owner.  Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the league has settled on a location in Queens near the US Tennis Center and Citi Field.  MLS is reportedly in talks with various municipal officials about the prospect of the privately financed stadium.   The league is determined to place a team in New York, and the subway accessible Queens location is probably a good location.  There are many hurdles before a deal can be finalized, but the league has its sights set on Queens and this story bears following.

Wedded Bliss

On a day with some big business news in MLS, including some movement on the New York stadium front and a sponsor for FC Dallas, I am celebrating my 8th wedding anniversary.


So…to ensure the domestic tranquility, no new posts tonight, but I will cover the above stories in depth tomorrow.

Covering the Coverage

Soccer coverage in traditional daily newspapers is typically spotty and often ill informed.  Yet such articles are important for a sport trying to reach markets beyond those who frequent soccer websites, sports television and other media that regularly covers the game.  Every so often we like to take a look at those outlets and their coverage of the beautiful game.

We’ll start with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Although not home to a Major League Soccer franchise, Atlanta has a rich soccer history and the AJC does offer occasional takes on the beautiful game.  Here, Doug Roberson of the AJC weighs in on local product Sean Johnson, the starting ‘keeper of the Chicago Fire.  The feature piece devotes a substantial amount of ink to Johnson’s negative performance in a friendly against El Salvador.  To review the piece, click here.

Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle weighs in with a nice piece looking at Geoff Cameron’s efforts to move to Europe.   Ortiz posits that Cameron may depart the Dynamo during the upcoming transfer window and provides the type of rumor mongering common to coverage of other sports but atypical.  This type of coverage is great for the league and provides great story lines for those developing an interest in the sport.  You can find the article here.

Finally, the San Francisco Chronicle weighs in with this piece about the San Jose Earthquakes’s run in the US Open Cup.  The Cup is a unique tournament that is starved for coverage.  To read Tom Fitzgerald’s article, click here.

Soccer Ratings

Every American soccer fan interested in seeing the game succeed in the States tends to keep an eye on television ratings as marker of the sport’s appeal to a domestic audience.  With Euro 2012 and the MLS season back in gear, now presents a great time to take a snapshot of soccer ratings in 2012.

We’ll start with EURO 2012, where the Sunday broadcast of England v. Italy drew an outstanding 2.4 rating on ESPN.  The mark represents a 50% increase over comparable matches from the 2008 version of the tournament.  The earlier matches of the tournament saw similar success, with more than 1 million viewers tuning in for some of the weekend games. Weekend viewership has ranged from 1.7 million to 2.1 million per match, solid numbers on cable in the middle of the day.  Per Awful Announcing, “in Canada,  TSN pulled in an average audience of 707,000 over the first six games (which would be their second-highest average audience amongst season-long sports, behind only hockey), and hauled in 1.1 million viewers for the Italy – Spain match.”

USA Today is reporting that the Portland/Vancouver Cascadia match drew an overnight of .6 following the England/Italy match.  Although the paper suggested that the .6 was disappointing, the .6 actually represents the high water mark for MLS on ESPN this year and a rating well above the league norm.  The rating was also negatively impacted by a mid-game switch from ESPN2 to ESPN.   On NBCSN, MLS has flat-lined, averaging less than 100k per game.  While there have been games over  100k, some of the numbers have been disappointingly in FSC range over the last few games.

Monday After

Busy times in Major League Soccer.  While soccer fans around the world were being treated to the quarterfinal stage of the Euro 2012 tournament, MLS fans had a wide sampling of games to enjoy.  Viewers of EURO 2012 were again treated to ESPN’s excellent coverage of the event, with Ballack, Lalas and others continuing to shine in the studio shows.  Picture quality remains excellent, and while I will never understand the  FIFA love a slow motion fan reaction to a missed shot, the replays and camera angles are top notch.

Speaking of replay, it appears that FIFA is close to making a decision on goal line technologies.  To me, it seems obvious that MLS is a great test league for such technology.  American fans are extremely comfortable with replay and it makes sense for FIFA to let a league outside the bright lights of Europe become the test case.

On to the attendance numbers, where the mid-week games were almost universally impressive.  In Seattle, more than 46,0000 fans showed up for their Wednesday tilt, while a 20k plus sellout crammed into Rio Tinto. Houston continued its strong start to attendance in their new digs with more than 21k.  Vancouver continued the 20k plus trend while Chivas managed just over 10k.  Colorado crept past 13k at DSG to close out the Wednesday night matches.

The big numbers continued over the weekend where TFC started the Saturday afternoon with almost 19k watching them spit up a late game lead.  Montreal was shockingly disappointing with just over 12k at the second game in newly renovated Saputo Stadium.   More than 18k saw Philly’s blowout win, while Chicago got a great number at Toyota Park with more than 17k for their rivalry game with Columbus.

FC Dallas fell just short of 14k on Saturday night while Los Angeles crossed the 21k mark at the Home Depot Center.  Rio Tinto hosted another 18k plus crowd, but again failed to record a victory before the home audience.  On Sunday, both Portland and New York managed sellouts in big rivalry games, capping off a very impressive five days for MLS attendance.

Selling Tickets in MLS

MLS is back with a vengeance after breaking for Euro 2012.  A full slate of mid-week games followed by a block of weekend matches should be enough to satisfy any fan of the domestic league.  It is also time for teams to start promoting their July 4th matches.   As we do every so often, here is a look at some of the promotional efforts MLS teams are employing to bring fans to the park.  However, we will start in New York, where the Red Bulls are employing a bit of cross cultural marketing with the New York based Kicking and Screening Film Festival.  The festival will feature Thierry Henry’s documentary and fans can score a 15% discount to the festival by using a promo code.  The deal does not include a discount for tickets.

The Rapids are typically the July 4th kings of Major League Soccer and the team is aggressively promoting a full slate of events for their home match against Vancouver.  In addition to the obligatory fireworks display after the game, the pre-match festivities include multiple musical acts, circus performances, crafts and more.  For information about the event, click here.

DC United is pushing its typical College Night $20 tickets for the team’s June 30th match at RFK.  The deal includes access to  a pre-game tailgate.  The $20 ticket represents a discount of $12 off the usual ticket price.

The Chicago Fire offer this list of promotional nights for the rest of the season.  Giveaways include pennants, towels, mini balls and more. Some of the games have presenting sponsors.


Soccer Business Bits: San Jose Stadium, Arrests & More

Over the years we have repeatedly written about efforts to build stadium for the Earthquakes in San Jose.  After multiple fits and starts, the team appeared to cross some final hurdles and appeared ready to start the construction process.  Now come reports that the date for stadium completion remains in flux and could move into 2014.  According to the San Jose Business Journal, the Quakes are working on stadium designs and have not yet obtained their building permits.  Obviously, the team has yet to break ground.  A while back, the team held a ceremonial ground breaking at the start of the demo process.   Although the event included a fair amount of pomp and circumstance, the demolition does not guarantee construction.    A rendering of the proposed stadium is here.

MLS was in the news for the wrong reasons over the weekend, as three members of TFC were arrested while on the road in Houston.   The players were cited for public intoxication after getting involved in an altercation outside of a Houston hotspot.  This was the second soccer player arrested while sampling the Houston nightlife during the 2012 season.  Recall that earlier this year.  For more, click here.

Coverage of Euro 2012 continues on ESPN and according to this article, ratings have been quite strong despite the mid-day start times.  Weekend viewership has ranged from 1.7 million to 2.1 million per match, solid numbers on cable in the middle of the day.  Per Awful Announcing, “in Canada,  TSN pulled in an average audience of 707,000 over the first six games (which would be their second-highest average audience amongst season-long sports, behind only hockey), and hauled in 1.1 million viewers for the Italy – Spain match.”