Soccer Business Bits: The Art of World Cup Sponsorship, MLS All-Star Revenue & More

Tier-One FIFA World Cup sponsors pay almost $125 million for the right to reach 30 billion sets of TV eyeballs and almost 3 million stadium attendees.  Add in the enormous investment necessary to leverage the FIFA relationship (through ad materials, hospitality events, commercials, etc…) and only a serious company can join the elite group of six tier-one partnerships offered by FIFA.  It was therefore surprising when it was announced that little known Chinese renewable energy company, Yingli Green Energy,  had joined titans such as McDonalds and Budweiser in the upper echelon of sports sponsorship.  The deal entitles Yingli to stadium advertising, the use of the FIFA mark, prime real estate in fan zones and much more.

Few events offer the worldwide reach of the World Cup and Yingli is taking an enormous gamble that sports fans will bring market share.  According to the Sports Business Journal, “Yingli signed its World Cup sponsorship because it believed soccer’s popularity would help the company raise brand awareness in key markets such as Germany, Italy and Spain, and potential markets such as Brazil and Africa.”  In addition, Yingli is hoping to develop relationships with other business and business leaders to increase brand awareness and sales.   Yingli develops, manufactures and sells photovoltaic modules and trades on the NYSE.  The company joins new MLS sponsor Continental Tire (a lower level World Cup sponsor) under the FIFA umbrella.

Multiple news outlets are reporting on the competition to host MLS Cup.  Cities such as Philly, Toronto and Los Angeles are vying to host the 2010 championship.  Most interesting to us, is the information contained in this article from the Toronto Star, about the value of hosting special soccer events.  According to the article, the MLS All-Star game generated $28 million (Canadian) over three days in tourism dollars while Real Madrid’s Canadian visit generated $10 million. These are the types of arguments typically raised to bring in big sports events, check out our interview with Simon Kuper, the author of Soccernomics for the other side of the argument.

Finally, Kyle McCarthy talks through the recent MLS announcement that all matches will be produced in HD for 2010.  According to the article, “MLS officials decided to make the move to HD production in an effort to compete with the high-quality broadcasts of English Premier League matches and supply fans with a better local television product that reflects the improving quality of play on the field…”  For those interested in the business of broadcasting soccer, we recommend reading this piece.

Soccer Business Bits: MLS Cup at a Neutral Site, Wizards Stadium Update & Interliga Attendance

In what we view as a  positive development, MLS has announced that MLS Cup 2010 will take place at a neutral site.  Many MLS fans support changing the format to having the hire seed host, but we think otherwise.  MLS Cup provides a big event that can accommodate plans months in advance.  The retail summit, supporter’s summit and all other sorts of League events can be scheduled well ahead of time.  Holders of MLS GSLs can plan their trips and MLS creates a destination event like the Super Bowl.

The Sports Business Journal is reporting that the Wizards have retained architectural firm Populous to design their new stadium.  According to Populous, owners OnGoal have requested that the 18,500 person stadium will be covered by a signature canopy that will be the “icon” of the stadium.  The stadium will also include a pub intended solely for members of the Wizards’ supporters group.  This facility will be modeled after a German Beer Hall.  There will be additional dining options throughout the stadium, including outdoor premium options.

Yesterday we wrote about ticket packages offered by MLS teams for Interliga games in Dallas and Los Angeles.  Like other foreign soccer showcases, these events provide a great opportunity for Mexican teams to continue to put their product in front of fans in the US that are geographically removed from their favorite teams.  So how did they draw?  DuNord has the numbers and to date they have been pretty disappointing.  4100 in Dallas is not impressive.