Commentary

Galaxy inks $44 million-plus sponsorship deal

By Paul Kennedy

The Los Angeles Galaxy has renewed its sponsorship deal with Herbalife, extending the agreement for 10 years. The agreement is valued at more than $44 million, making it the single largest and longest sponsorship agreement for an MLS club in league history.

“Herbalife bet on the Galaxy six years ago and now MLS has exploded in popularity and growth," said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group. "For them to renew their partnership for this extended length is a tremendous mutual reward for both of us and a demonstration of their belief and faith in MLS. To have this kind stability and strength in a partnership that will take us into the next decade is refreshing for the sports industry.”

The Galaxy always does things in a big way. On the eve of MLS Cup, it announced a 10-year regional television deal with Time Warner to air its games on its new regional sports network for $55 million.

As part of the Herbalife deal, $2.5 million will go toward supporting charitable efforts between the Los Angeles Galaxy Foundation and the Herbalife Family Foundation to benefit vulnerable and underserved children.

TELEVISION NUMBERS. NBC Sports Network's coverage of Sunday's Philadelphia-Colorado game was watched by an average of 124,000 viewers, a jump of 51 percent from the 82,000 viewers who watched the opening FC Dallas-New York telecast a week earlier. The 124,000 viewers is a gain of 82 percent over the average of 68,000 viewers on Fox Soccer Channel's MLS game coverage last season.

-- ESPN2 drew an average of 337,000 viewers (0.2 rating) for its first MLS broadcast of 2012, a Monday night game between Portland and Philadelphia.

MONEY MATTERS. David Beckham’s move to MLS hasn’t had much impact on his earning power. Beckham, now in his sixth season in MLS with the Los Angeles Galaxy, ranks second behind only Lionel Messi on France Football's annual list of the best-paid players in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, $38.5 million) Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi Makhachkala, $30.7 million) and Wayne Rooney (Man. United, $27.2 million) rank 3-4-5.

SPONSORSHIP FRONT. Roma has signed a deal with the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the Florida sports complex to become the official winter training home of the Italian club. The three-time Serie A champion becomes the sports complex’s official soccer team, will have signage throughout the sports complex, serve as presenting sponsor of several Disney-owned youth soccer events and have one of its youth academy teams compete in Disney’s Soccer Showcase. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex’s recent expansion involved the addition of four outdoor playing fields four months ago. More than 30 multi-purpose outdoor fields are used for the 12 soccer events held at the complex each year.

-- Bud Light will once again sponsor a 6v6 tournament on the West Coast. The finals of the third edition of MLS Copa Bud Light 6v6, which features 64 teams, will be held April 15 at The Home Depot Center. The winner will represent the USA in England for the finals of the Global Beer Championship 2012.

-- It was only a matter of time: fficial binoculars. Oregon-based Leupold & Stevens has become an official sponsor of the Portland Timbers, introducing a program where spectators can rent BX-1 Yosemite binoculars for use during games. In addition, one or more fans have the opportunity, via random drawings, to win a BX-1 Yosemite binocular at each home game.

FACEBOOK WATCH. Mexican clubs have been aggressively pursuing young American players. How aggressively? Stevie Rodriguez says he was first contacted by Mexican club Tijuana on Facebook after last year's Under-17 World Cup. Rodriguez signed with Tijuana, where he plays for its under-20 team.

RADIO WAVES. Sporting Kansas City will continue its partnership with Reyes Media Group, which will provide live broadcast of MLS matches in Spanish on La Gran D 1340 AM.

USYS ONLINE. U.S. Youth Soccer has introduced a redesign of its web site.
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