Commentary

D.C. United-VW, Pele-PG&E and Rush-adidas deals, MLS Facebook champ

By Ridge Mahoney and Paul Kennedy

D.C. United and Volkswagen agreed to a one-year extension of VW’s jersey sponsorship, the Washington Post reported.

A five-year deal set to expire at the end of December has been extended through 2013, with a one-year option for the 2014 season. The original deal was believed to be worth $3 million per year; VW vice-president of marketing Kevin Mayer confirmed the renewal and, without disclosing numbers, said the value of the sponsorship has changed.

In 2012, United reached the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season and after years of frustration seems to be making headway in attempts to fund and build a new stadium. It has played at RFK Stadium since starting play as one of the league’s founding teams in 1996.

“The team is thriving again, the product is strong,” Mayer told the Post. “Down the road, if a new stadium is built, we would like to be part of it.”

VW is also negotiating a renewal of its league sponsorship agreement. The current contract is nearing the end of a four-year term believed to be worth about $10 million. After Honda dropped its sponsorship, VW took over as official automotive partner of MLS when it signed a deal with the league in March 2009.

PELE JOINS PG&E. Tennis star Roger Federer, who is playing events on a tour sponsored by Gillette, welcomed one of his idols into the fold over the weekend.

Pele met Federer for the first time, and the two sporting giants exchanged gifts at Pele’s residence in Sao Paulo to commemorate his joining the ranks of Proctor & Gamble endorsers. Federer signed a tennis racquet and presented it to Pele, who gave Federer a signed jersey he wore at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

Said Federer, a global brand ambassador for Gillette, “Meeting Pele today was an absolute dream come true.  It was an honor to be introduced to the most important and most famous personality in world soccer.”

Pele commented, “It is such an honor to be a part of the P&G family, and to be welcomed by the best in tennis -- Roger Federer.”

Federer has been a Gillette endorser since 2007, when he was signed along with Tiger Woods and Thierry Henry to replace David Beckham. He is playing events in South America on an exhibition tour.

Pele, 72, has already signed deals to serve as an ambassador for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games that will be staged in his native country.

ADIDAS INKS RUSH. Adidas will partner with Rush Soccer, the largest youth clubs. As part of the deal, Rush coaches will participate in coaching education courses at the Real Madrid youth academy and Rush select teams will travel overseas to compete against the best international talent through the adidas International Travel Program. Founded in 2002, Rush Soccer has grown from one club in the Denver suburbs to 27 clubs across 26 states in the United States with more than 32,000 youth players nationwide and nearly 6,000 youth soccer players in affiliated Rush clubs abroad.

MLS FACEBOOK CHAMPION. What MLS club has done the best job of reaching out to fans on Facebook? The web site Soccer Newsday ranked MLS clubs by the per capita number of likes they have on Facebook. The winner was Real Salt Lake with a penetration of almost 9 (the percentage of likes to Salt Lake City metropolitan area residents). The Seattle Sounders were second at 8 percent. The Portland Timbers were third at 4.6 percent. The Galaxy had the most likes: more than 530,000. Last in terms of penetration was FC Dallas with only 0.8 percent.

HARRISBURG-MSSG DEAL. The USL PRO Harrisburg City Islanders signed a three-year partnership with Market Street Sports Group of Lancaster, Pa., to handle corporate partnership representation.
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