SBJ/March 26 - April 1, 2007/This Weeks News

L.A. expects to reach a ‘significant goal’

At $5.5 million a year, David Beckham didn’t come cheap by MLS standards, and it’s up to the Los Angeles Galaxy’s business team to figure out how to pay him.

The team’s sales staff has begun chipping away at that challenge by adding two new categories and positioning itself to increase sponsorship revenue by 35 percent this year, not including its new jersey sponsorship deal (see related story). It also has begun planning two overseas trips to Asia in the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008.

“When we announced [Beckham], things were crazy,” assistant general manager Tom Payne said. “Everyone under the sun was calling us to try to become a sponsor. We tried to steer clear of some things, but we have a significant goal to hit and expect to hit it.”

The team has added an after-market auto sponsor in AutoTrader.com, a one-year deal with an option for extension, and Delta as an airline partner, Payne said. It also had two of the four league-level partners that spend locally with the team, ICI Paints and Makita, expand their partnerships from last year. ICI Paints’ deal went from a small, local agreement to one in the low six figures.

The Galaxy also has renewed two local partners and added a new one in the laser eye company, Kawesch Laser. Those deals, all exclusive, are in the $20,000 to $50,000 range annually.

“I don’t know if that comes along without the exposure of such a great player,” Payne said.

The team now has 31 sponsorship partners (see chart), with the high-end deals in the low to mid-six figures.

Partners have expressed more interest in activating with the team, as well. Payne expects to have between 12 and 15 sponsor booths at its Soccer Fest, which begins an hour before kickoff for every regular-season game. Last year there were eight to 10 sponsor booths before each game.

“[The sponsors] understand we’re going to have a lot more fans than in years past,” Payne said.

The team is exploring opportunities abroad as part of its effort to cover Beckham’s contract. It currently is in discussions with a number of Asian promoters regarding a postseason trip to Asia in late October. The team is exploring the possibility of doing its preseason training in Asia, as well. Countries under consideration include South Korea, China and Japan.

“Beckham’s the most popular athlete in Asia,” Payne said. “If we want to take our brand, the Galaxy, to the next level, we have to do that.”

The addition of a four-team, exhibition doubleheader announced last week with Chelsea FC, South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings and Mexico’s Tigres will help. The team will sell separate tickets and sponsorships to the July 21 event and split revenue from the event with Chelsea.

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