The good news off the field has continued for the Columbus Crew. After seeing strong season ticket sales earlier in the offseason related to the team's very visible Goal 10k, the team also confirmed that corporate partnerships are very strong as well.
The team has been busy locking in deals for game day, television, and sponsor partnership advertising and the work has paid dividends in new and reviewing business. Crew Vice President of Corporate Partnerships Chris Previte confirmed to Massive Report "We are pacing about 20% ahead of last year's sponsorship sales at this time, so we are pleased about that, but still have a lot of work to do yet".
The work Previte refers to is team's focus on securing a jersey sponsor and a stadium naming rights partner. Glidden's jersey sponsorship ended in December 2010 and the Crew have been looking for a stadium naming rights partner for several years. The average jersey sponsor was about 3 million dollars per year for deals disclosed.
The team has been working to secure a jersey or stadium deal and has identified a long list of targets. Previte admitted that the jersey sponsorship has been more attractive. "We have two interested parties that are sincere. We continue to go down the path with those two parties, but we are of course exploring if there are any others out there we can engage". He declined to identify the prospective partners.
The recent Chicago Fire deal with Quaker has provided a benefit, even coming from an on the field competitor, Previte noted "(When) they see a company a size and standing of a Quaker, it gives a lot of credibility to a jersey partnership. People want to play in and amongst those jersey partners."
Other deals do help, but the team does feel a bit of pressure to secure a deal, with Previte admitting "It's does put a little pressure on the teams that don't have a deal because we are all trying to make sure we do get a deal and not be the last one."
The Crew's recent deal making has come in a continuing soft market in Central Ohio, but even there, the team sees positives in the local economy recently.
"People are still spending marketing dollars, there is a bit of a thaw in that area in the last 18 month, but there are still some people that have their foot on the brake.", Previte said, remarking on the advertising environment.
The Crew has looked to expand partnerships at the grassroots level and the Crew Academy continues to be an attractive platform for companies at that level. The team is also still looking to improve the game day environment with Previte noting "We are looking at some new signage as well that could include LED field level signage; that has a good value for advertisers"
Previte then looked to the recently released regional economic impact study to underscore the Crew's place in the community, remarking "The economic study illustrates to the Columbus business community the importance of the team and why it should be supported more robustly by local companies."
The team has been pleased by the response to the Goal 10k push, season tickets are well up, as are business partnership, but they are by no means satisfied. The team still not at 10,000 season tickets and has two primary sponsorships unsold. The 2012 offseason has been a good start, but the team, and fans, are unlikely to be satisfied until a jersey sponsor is found and the stadium is near capacity on a regular basis. The Crew are closer to this goal than they have been in several years.