All-Star centerback and aspiring fashion icon Aurelien Collin has the lifestyle of a globe-trotting model, so it was fitting that Sporting Kansas City flew him to Indianapolis for the club’s jersey sponsor unveiling.
Immediately before Sporting KC made its only selection Thursday in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft, cameras panned to Collin, and the new Ivy Funds name and logo were hard to miss on the club’s indigo jersey.
“It’s always nice to have a built-in resource like that with the club,” Sporting KC president and CEO Robb Heineman said.
Sporting KC and Ivy Funds, an affiliate of Waddell & Reed, announced a five-year deal, making the Overland Park-based asset management firm the first jersey sponsor in club history — and presumably satisfying a fan base that has long clamored for such a deal.
During a live stream of the draft, ESPN reported the deal was worth $2.5 million per year, but team sources disputed that figure without offering specifics.
The league average for jersey sponsorship deals is roughly $2 million per season, but Sporting KC declined to provide financial details, citing club policy.
“Being able to partner with a local company, and an innovative company that is national in scope as well, is exactly what we wanted to do from a brand perspective,” Heineman said. “It took us a long time to get to where we are around this, but the result is excellent.”
The Ivy Funds logo will soon adorn all Sporting KC team jerseys, including a new home uniform that will be unveiled Feb. 27. The deal also includes naming rights for the executive suite level at Sporting Park.
“The opportunity to partner with them gives us the opportunity to extend our brand dramatically — both in the Kansas City region, where they have clearly captured the imagination of sports fans, and nationally,” said Thomas Butch, CEO and president of Ivy Funds Distributor.
The last two years Ivy Funds had a smaller sponsorship agreement in place, but the two organizations aggressively expanded that arrangement after the 2012 season.
“We have been a sponsor since the move to the new stadium, but in the process of reviewing that, (Sporting Club) presented to us an audacious idea to substantially elevate our partnership,” Butch said. “We took a lot of time talking to them about it and a lot of time vetting it internally. The more we talked about it, the more we examined it, the more we thought about it, the more attractive it became.”
Heineman said the deal came together in about 60 days, which is fast “for a deal this substantial and significant.”
Thursday’s unveiling came two days after a naming rights deal for the stadium with Livestrong dissolved amid accusations of non-payment and distrust.
“We needed this day, and it couldn’t get here fast enough, quite frankly,” Heineman said.
Heineman has considerably more faith in the stability of the jersey sponsorship with Ivy Funds.
“I think the more our fans get to know who Ivy Funds is and what they’re about — which is innovation, class, commitment to Kansas City and value — all those things I think will resonate with the fan base,” Heineman said. “I think it’s going to be a great partnership for us.”