On the Road…Again

Sorry for the lack of posts yesterday and today.  Should be back settled tomorrow.  For now, here is a Footiebusiness post from last year about the companies that invest in Major League Soccer.

We often discuss Major League Soccer’s various corporate sponsors and the important role they play in funding league operations and cementing the league’s legitimacy in the eyes of the busines community.  We often discuss those sponsors individually, but thought it worthwhile to list all of them here: Adidas, Allstate,  AT&T, American Airlines, Aquafina, Budweiser, Bimbo, Castrol, Continental, Degree, Dick’s, el Jimador, Four Points, Gatorade, Home Depot, Jeld Wen, Makita, Panasonic, Pepsi Max, Red Bull, Visa, VW and X Box 360.

Some of these sponsors function as both jersey sponsors and official league sponsors, while others have a stadium sponsorship and league deal.  Not all jersey sponsors are league sponsors, not all stadium sponsors are league sponsors.  This year, for the first time, MLS teams are free to sell their own local rights in certain sponsorship categories.  SBJ recently reported that a large number of MLS franchises have inked deals with league sponsors Pepsi and Budweiser for local rights, while seven have signed with other brewers and more than a handful have signed deals with Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola.  According to the article, these deals can run from $75-200k.   In the beer category, it is interesting to note that some teams have looked to local brewers for partnerships and as a way to further promote close ties with local businesses.


The Business of the Draft and League Networks

Just some ramblings tonight.  On Monday night I was flipping the remote when I stumbled across the MLB First Year Player Draft on the MLB Network.  I’m certainly not a frequent viewer of the station, but as a Mets fan (and yes the Santana no-hitter was an enormous moment in my personal sports history), I happened to catch the portion of the broadcast leading up to the Mets’ first pick and I was struck by the low quality of the telecast. The NFL is the master of the draft spectacle and has created a three day extravaganza which draws ratings that smash any MLS telecast, but the MLB draft included limited graphics, borderline on-air talent and the whole set appeared to be fabricated in a basement.

The MLS draft has traditionally been broadcast on ESPN2 as part of the league’s primary television contract.  The coverage has expanded over the years and last year there were 2 hours of coverage which subsequently moved to ESPN3.com.   I continue to believe that televising the SuperDraft is exceptionally important for the league.  Commissioner Garber has long talked about creating special moments, and the memory of seeing top picks receiving their scarf and shaking Garber’s hand will burn into the brains of fans, journalists and youth players.

As I watched the MLB draft, I started to imagine the possibility of a Major League Soccer channel.  The other major American sports have devoted networks that are typically available on the higher sports tiers.  However, unlike those other leagues, MLS faces competition from Fox Soccer, Gol, the new Al Jazeera channels and other soccer networks. Is there room for an MLS focused channel?  Is there enough programming?  Is there enough interest?  Would MLS be best served by combining with one of the other networks?

Monday After

There was only one Major League Soccer match on the calendar this weekend with the Revs hosting the Chicago Fire at Gillette on Saturday night.  The 2-0 victory pushed the Revs up the table, but drew a crowd of only 12,500.  Cold weather and rain likely contributed to the down crowd, but the Revs will again need bigger numbers in Summer and Fall to push attendance to a respectable height by the end of the season.

In Montreal, Impact officials have confirmed that the newly renovated Stade Saputo will open on June 16 for the Impact’s home match against Seattle.  The Impact have been playing their home matches at Olympic Stadium since the season began, but now the teams is just two weeks away from moving to its permanent home.   As we have noted previously, the stadium will hold just over 20k fans.  Approximately 1/3 of the seats will be covered by a roof and the stadium will be well served by public transportation.

On Sunday night, NBSCN televised its second USMNT Friendly.  The broadcast was live from BMO Field in Toronto and featured the usual NBC voices on the microphone.  World Cup Qualifying starts in the coming week and one of the US matches will be featured on ESPN.  However, as we previously discussed, rights to the second match (in Guatemala), were not told to American cable or broadcast network and will instead be offered on a Pay Per View basis.  Please drop a line if you will be one of the souls purchasing the PPV rights for the match.  Given the expected cost, it seems remarkable that PPV rights will outstrip the price the rights holder will garner from an American channel, but please let me know.

MLS Player Salaries

Last week the Major League Soccer Players Union released its annual list of player salaries.  You can find the list here. For fans of the league, the salary list always makes for an interesting read.  Thanks to the good folks at bigsoccer, we know that the average salary is approximately $160k while the mean is approximately half of that.

Not surprisingly, Los Angeles and New York top the salary list with TFC running a distant third.   Most teams sit in the $3-4 million range with the Dynamo bringing up the rear in total salary.

So who is overpaid?  Who makes too little?


Leave your thoughts and have a great weekend.