After a long offseason of waiting and speculation, Columbus Crew SC officially announced the club’s new jersey sponsor and debuted the new kit for 2017.
After previous sponsorship deals with Glidden and Barbasol, the Black & Gold organization took a different route, combining global and local ties when announcing Acura as the official jersey and automotive partner for Crew SC.
“This relationship is is significant for a few reasons, but it’s important to note that an association with a premium brand is something that’s very special to us,” Crew SC president of business operations Andy Loughnane said at the press conference held at MAFRE Stadium. “Today’s partner is an innovative, premium automotive brand with significant R&D and manufacturing capabilities here in Ohio. Over 14,000 employees in Ohio. Deep Ohio roots. Strong brand. This association is a bold step forward for our club.”
After a organization-wide rebrand in late 2014 refocused the club on local ties, this sponsorship continues to reflect that mentality.
Although Acura, a part of the Honda brand, is a Japanese company, its United States reach focuses very specifically in Ohio according to AVP of marketing Tom Peyton.
“Ninety-six on the back (of the jersey), which is a great number for a couple of reasons,” he began. “Ninety-six is certainly the year Columbus Crew (SC) got started, a very successful franchise. It’s also, 96 percent will be the percent of Acura’s that are built in Ohio that are sold in the United States.”
The company houses its manufacturing operations in Marysville and East Liberty, Ohio as well as research and development in Raymond. As Loughnane said, over 14,000 Ohioans count on this brand for jobs and now it will be a part of the Crew SC family as well.
The deal with Acura is for three years — although both parties indicated a hope it could last longer — and is the largest annual commercial transaction in club history.
According to Loughnane, this historic deal was long in the making.
“Tom and I first had a conversation in winter of ‘15, just before we played MLS Cup,” he said. “Then that conversation got a little more serious in the spring of ‘16. It got much more serious in late winter of ‘16 and obviously has bled here in into 2017. So it’s a multi-year process.”
Along with the introduction of Acura as the official jersey sponsor, the Black & Gold made that nickname relevant again in a return to the gold kit, which took a back seat to the ‘For Columbus’ uniform last season.
For 2017, the newly designed gold jerseys will return as the primary outfit for Crew SC. Like the Acura sponsorship on it, this year’s kits — the black remains basically unchanged from 2016 (see below) — pay homage to the state of Ohio.
“The gold jersey is very special to us,” Loughnane explained. “It’s a return to our very strong heritage design elements. It’s adorned with the black checks, which is a nod to our supporter culture. It has what we call a jock tag on the front of the kit that proudly establishes our charter membership No. 01. Nobody will ever be able to take that away from us. The neck tape, which is just inside of the jersey itself, has the supporter chant in text. It say, ‘Glory to Columbus.’ Then on the back of the jersey, very importantly, there’s the state of Ohio flag.”
A move to return to gold as the primary color will make many fans happy. Although black was historically the team’s first primary, Crew SC has become synonymous with the gold, or “banana,” kits.
These jerseys, along with the Acura sponsor, will be officially debuted on field in Crew SC’s season-opening game with the Chicago Fire on March 4.
There you have it Crew SC fans. Are you satisfied with the new look? The new sponsor? Is anyone missing the ‘For Columbus’ kits?