Deferring to the Open Cup Final

soundersWith the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final the event of the evening, we will take a pass on any substantive posts.  The game managed a respectable 17k  for a very exciting event.  Of course, United spent a significant sum advertising the match, and there is a real question of whether the outlaw was sensible.  Nevertheless, it was a cracking game and the good sized crowd certainly added to the event.  Kudos to United for the Wewintrophies website and tour. Congratulations to Seattle.

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Business Bits: Expansion in Motion, WPS & Montero

mlsTwo years before they kick off, the newly minted franchises in Vancouver and Portland are already competing off the field.  As we reported earlier this week, Vancouver had already sold 5,000 season ticket deposits less than one week after the franchise announcement.  Now, word comes out of Portland that within the first 48 hours of opening up sales, more than 1,000 season ticket deposits have been sold.  For both teams, present USL season ticket holders will have priority ahead of deposit holders, likely adding a couple thousand more to the season ticket rolls.

Fans of both teams already anticipate a heated rivalry on the field.  Off the field, the franchises will forever be compared because of their start dates and geographic proximity.  It will be fascinating to monitor these franchises as they prepare for 2011.  Advertising dollars, ticket sales, broadcast deals and sponsorships will all provide means to compare the franchises for the next two years.

As we have previously discussed, the WPS kicks off this weekend from the Home Depot Center.  The Washington Post is reporting that more than 10k tickets have been sold for the L.A. Sol/Washington Freedom opener. The game will be nationally televised on FSC and the rest of the League will open the following week.  Check out our interview with WPS Director of Communications Robert Penner for more on the WPS’ business model and expectations.

Colombian Fredy Montero made a big splash on the field in his debut last week.  The performance was so impressive that Seattle fans were already dreaming of multiple MVP awards, or the possibility of a large transfer fee.  An article in the Seattle Times suggests that neither may come to pass.

According to the article, Montero is on a one year contract stemming from a loan agreement.  Seattle GM Adrian Hanauer acknowledged to the paper that Seattle only controls Montero for one season (despite Montero leaving the door open to a second year).  MLS typically orchastrates its loan agreements with an option to buy,  so a one year loan without such an option would be rare.  Nevertheless, a young player with such promise will be a hot commodity on the transfer market, and there are reports that MLS owns some percentage of Montero’s sale rights, thereby affording the League a chance to recoup some money on a Montero transfer. sounders

MLS Sponsorships: The Name on the Front of the Jersey

san-joseOn January 29, 2009 the San Jose Earthquakes announced a three year deal with Amway, for a reported $2-3 million per season.  According to reports, all San Jose apparel, including game jerseys, would immediately begin carrying a prominently placed Amway logo.  With the deal, San Jose became the 11th MLS side to announce a primary jersey sponsorship.

We’ve previously discussed Seattle’s $4,000,000 per year deal with Microsoft. In 2008, DC United inked a long term deal with Volkswagen for a reported $3.7 million annually and the Chicago Fire announced a three year deal with Best Buy.  Best Buy, Volkswagen and Microsoft are well known commercial entities with an international footprint and an established pedigree.  MLS fans were elated when such prominent companies invested in the League.

Despite its long history, soccer fans reacted differently to Amway’s entry into U.S. soccer.  In the minds of some, the Amway deal joined Herbalife’s five year sponsorship of the Galaxy and RSL’s groundbreaking deal with Xango by adding another multi-level-marketing enterprise to the League’s list of sponsors.  These critics believe that such sponsors besmirch the reputation of MLS and give fodder to mainstream media critics.

I take the view that sponsorship money is a hot commodity right now and fans should be ecstatic that an internationally recognized company is investing in the League.  Amway has deals with the Orlando Magic and AC Milan.  Given some of the sponsors of teams around the world, Amway is no better or no worse.  xboxMicrosoft, Glidden and Comex are fine, but be grateful for the investment, and go buy so makeup!