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MLS boss Don Garber talks jersey sponsorships and KC's innovative ownership


The Kansas City Star

Last week, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber sat down with sports editors from around the country during the APSE Commissioners Meetings.

Garber talked jersey sponsorship (for the league and Sporting KC) and how KC have grown the last few years.

Here are The Don's quotes.

ON JERSEY SPONSORSHIP IN GENERAL:
"A portion of jersey revenue is shared. (Referenced size of the $40 million deal the Galaxy made with Herbalife in the Los Angeles market.) We know that’s not going to be the size of the deal in Kansas City, so we manage some of that disparity through revenue sharing."

ON SPORTING KC’S JERSEY SITUATION:
"I believe they can sell naming rights for their jersey tomorrow; but to their credit, they want to sell it for more money than probably they’re able to get if they wanted to close the deal short-term. This is a group that has very, very high expectations as to what they think the value of that jersey is, and the league is very supportive of that. So they’re economically in reasonably good shape, selling out every game, have lots of luxury product within their stadium, doing well financially … and if they needed it, they would do it. But I think they’re waiting to get the right deal at the right time and at the right price."

ON DEALS AROUND THE LEAGUE:
"I think there are some markets where they’re actively out selling it (jersey rights) and they’re not able to close deals. For us, it’s a growing business, and one that we’ve said in the quote that was in the New York Times today (Thursday), that for us it’s not trying to convince the sports fan that a sponsor should be on the jersey; it’s trying to convince the soccer fan that we, like the Premier League, have corporate sponsors on our jerseys as part of our connection and identification with the international soccer community. And the vast majority, all but two or three of our clubs, have jersey sponsorship deals – and they’re multiple-million-dollar deals. So over a very short period of time, it’s generated nearly $100 million in revenue for the league. That’s a significant amount of money for our league based on the size of our business."

ON SPORTING KC IN GENERAL:
"In Kansas City, I think there’s a great story for our league and our view about parity, our view about partnership, but also our view about what’s happening in our country. Because here’s a market that’s not really viewed as one of the ethnically diverse hotbeds in America. It’s a relatively small market, it has minimal sports competition compared to New York, and we have a team there that has new ownership, that’s built a brand new stadium and is arguably the story in town, and one of the great stories in Major League Soccer. Very, very innovative ownership, very technology oriented. …

Sporting Kansas City is, amongst all of us in the industry – not just those of us in the league, but speak to those in the stadium business – arguably one of the most high-tech stadiums of any size, in any league, in the world. Full panoramic cameras, fully wired for video. Google has Kansas City as one of their high-speed hubs, has a lot of their services based in and around the stadium. The team is partnering with Google to do a wide variety of things, as well as with Cisco, and has launched an innovation company to take all the technology in Livestrong Sporting Park and try to take it out to the world."

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