SBJ/20081117/This Week's News

Earthquakes sign William Morris to sell marketing deals

The San Jose Earthquakes have signed the William Morris Agency to a broad representation agreement that will see the agency help with everything from securing jersey and stadium naming-rights partners to booking concerts and consulting on real estate development.

The Earthquakes hope to open a new stadium in San Jose in 2011 and are in the process of finalizing a deal with the city that will see team owner Lew Wolff buy 66 acres of land from the city for $132 million.

Wolff said the Earthquakes interviewed four other agencies before settling on William Morris.

“What really impressed us is the team that they allotted to us,” Wolff said. “We talk all kinds of issues. If we develop a hotel there, they’re going to be involved making that exciting for us. It’s a very broad relationship that’s not as specialized as you might think.”

The immediate focus of the relationship will be on securing a jersey partner and a naming-rights partner. Both could offer a significant boost to the Earthquakes’ bottom line. 

Philip Button will lead the relationship for William Morris.

The largest jersey sponsorship sale in MLS in value is the Los Angeles Galaxy’s $4 million-a-year deal with Herbalife, while the smallest is the Columbus Crew’s $1 million-a-year deal with Glidden. Real Salt Lake signed the most recent stadium-naming-rights deal in the league with Rio Tinto for $2 million a year.

William Morris hasn’t decided if it will package both sponsorships together or sell them independently. Both remain a possibility, Wolff said.

“The stadium isn’t perfected, so we’re not ready for that,” he said. “We’re not immune — nor is anyone — from the current state of the economy today.”

Once the stadium is completed, William Morris will handle all music booking and programming for the venue.

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