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Best Buy-Fire Sponsorship is 'Huge'

The Chicago Sun-Times' Nick Firchau has a story on the impact of Chicago's new sponsorship agreement with electronics retailer Best Buy. As part of the deal, which is worth between $2.5 million and 4 million per season, the company's brand name will now be pasted across the front of the Fire jersey. ''This is huge,'' Fire defender C.J. Brown said at the jersey's press unveiling. ''When I started with the Fire, our sponsors were league sponsors. This is another big step in the right direction for the league and also for the Fire.''
Firchau points out that the marriage between corporate sponsorship and soccer jerseys is a long-standing marketing tradition across the globe -- but it's a first for the U.S, where corporate sponsors pass their brand names inside and outside stadiums, not on the front of sports teams' jerseys. Kathy Carter, executive vice president of Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of Major League Soccer, said the decision to follow soccer tradition ''is something we took a long look at, and it's very different from the balance of other American sports.''
Indeed, as Firchau says, "older U.S. leagues wouldn't dare" of putting corporate logos on team jerseys "for fear of alienating their fans." But MLS is hoping soccer fans will be more forgiving. Many of them understand that jersey sponsorship will be a big source of revenue for MLS teams; meanwhile, those who have followed leagues in Europe and South America will be used to -- and in some cases, even, comfortable -- with the marketing tactic.

Read the whole story at Chicago Sun-Times »

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