SBJ/20080623/This Week's News

Philly MLS franchise brings Premier aboard for sales role

Premier Partnerships has been chosen to sell sponsorships and other commercial inventory in and around the 20,000-seat stadium built for the new Philadelphia MLS franchise that will be an anchor of a $500 million, 100-acre mixed-use development in Chester, Pa.

Premier will sell commercial inventory throughout the site. CEO and President Randy Bernstein estimated that the development would yield $50 million or more in contractual sponsorship revenue. While the yet-unnamed MLS team won’t begin play until 2010, Premier will attempt to jump-start sales by selling “Philadelphia 2010 Under Construction” sponsorships to 12 to 18 partners, including one $250,000 presenting partnership. Those packages include a number of events, grassroots opportunities and right of first refusal on later deals.

Premier also will be selling naming rights and is initially looking for a 20-year deal at $2 million to $3 million a year.

“The intriguing thing with naming rights is that we control the whole 100-acre facility, so for the right deal, we could name the whole complex,” said Nick Sakiewicz, CEO and operating partner of team owner Keystone Sports and Entertainment and a former colleague of Bernstein during MLS’s formative years.

Bernstein said eight to 10 founding partnerships will be targeted with about 40 total commercial affiliates are being sought. He said the company won’t go to market until next month.

Premier, which represented Herbalife in its Los Angeles Galaxy shirt deal, will also sell the new team’s jersey sponsorship.

Allison Howard, senior director of corporate partnerships, is heading sales on the project for Premier, which also sold most of the commercial inventory at MLS venues Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. However, unlike those two facilities, the Chester development will not include a complex of youth soccer fields. Sakiewicz said the team is developing a separate practice facility.

He added that the team name is expected to be announced in November or December, with colors, a logo and jersey being developed by an internal team, league master licensee Adidas and MLS to be rolled out next spring.

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