Thursday was draft day, but arguably the biggest soccer business story was the announcement that Sporting Kansas City has finally landed a jersey sponsor. Ivy Funds is a prominent mutual fund and investment company based in the Kansas City area. Ivy Funds is affiliated with Wadell & Reed Financial, a publicly traded company based in Overland, Kansas. ESPN reported that the five year deal is worth $2.5 million per year, a figure disputed by the team. If the number is correct, it would put Sporting a bit above the league average. Ivy Funds had a previous relationship with Sporting, but the asset management firm now moves to the front of the line.
Per the press release, “the multi-faceted and fully integrated corporate sponsorship also provides Ivy Funds with naming rights to the Executive Suite level at Sporting Park, entertainment at the stadium for clients and employees, as well as engagement opportunities with Sporting KC players for charitable efforts and appearances.”
Sporting has been one of the great business success and re-brand stories in American sports. Just a few years removed from playing before sparse crowds in vacuous Arrowhead Stadium, with a seemingly disengaged ownership group, the team has been a success on the field, at the gate and in the community. One of the big missing pieces was a primary jersey sponsor and the team has now checked that box.
The timing is certainly interesting, coming just days after the team’s relationship with LiveStrong ended. Moreover, with the draft the same day, the relationship with Ivy was relegated to the second story on the team’s website. Yet securing both the revenue stream of a jersey sponsorship and the validation that the uniform front has value is a significant move for the team. That the sponsor is local company that is a division of a firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange is simply icing on the cake.
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