Sporting KC Retools Sponsorship Department, Aims for Jersey Deal

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(from Sports Business Journal, October 15, 2012) Sporting KC is one of the premier soccer teams in Major League Soccer. They continually make the playoffs and are set to make the playoffs once again this year. Along with that, Sporting KC is becoming more popular than ever, selling out 16 of 17 games this season at Livestrong Sporting Park. The only game that was not sold out was on a cold and rainy night in late March. In the team’s second year at the 18,467-seat Livestrong, Sporting KC has sold standing-room tickets to reach an average attendance of 19,403 this season. Sporting KC also leads the MLS in season ticket renewals for the 2013 season. All of the 34 suites at Livestrong are sold and under contract through at least 2013.

Despite the overwhelming success in ticket sales, Sporting KC lacks a jersey sponsor, which would be a major potential revenue stream. Sporting KC is only one of three teams in the MLS that is without a jersey sponsor. The other two teams are the Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes. To address this issue, the club’s corporate partnerships department has been given an overhaul, with the main goal being the acquisition of the first revenue-generating jersey sponsorship deal in Sporting KC’s 16-year history.

“We have to continue to grow the commercial side of our business,” said Robb Heineman, the CEO of Sporting Club, the parent company of Sporting Kansas City. Heineman recently promoted 29-year-old Jake Reid from Vice President of Sales to Chief Revenue Officer. Reid brought on Jamie Guin, who was a longtime sponsorship executive with the New Orleans Hornets, as Sporting KC’s new Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. Reid will work with Guin to hire at least three more corporate sales staffers by the end of October. “We view this as a long-term play, and we’re looking for a marquee partner,” said Reid, who added that the club will keep its search in-house instead of using an agency, “we’re getting closer. The success of our team on the pitch and at the gate certainly helps.”