SBJ/20100628/This Week's News

Toronto FC keeps bank’s name on jerseys

The Bank of Montreal has signed a multiyear renewal of its jersey partnership with Toronto FC, ensuring the bank’s logo will remain on the jersey of one of MLS’s most successful clubs.

The bank and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns Toronto FC, agreed to a five-year extension that industry sources valued at more than $4 million annually. The deal will keep Bank of Montreal’s BMO logo, which first appeared on Toronto FC’s uniform during the team’s inaugural season in 2007, in the same place through the 2015 season. It is an increase of about three times the reported $1 million to $1.5 million initial jersey deal.

Bank of Montreal has held the jersey rights
since Toronto began play in 2007.

“To have BMO front and center on the jerseys has been a huge win for us,” said Sandy Bourne, vice president, advertising, sponsorship, events and merchandising, BMO Financial Group. “There’s nothing better than to see someone walking around the streets of the city with our brand name proudly represented on their shirt. It puts the BMO brand on a much different level and creates a tremendous brand presence for us.”

“We held hands and jumped off the cliff into soccer together a few years ago,” said Tom Anselmi, MLSE’s chief operating officer who worked on the deal with MLSE senior vice president of corporate sales Dave Hopkinson. “We didn’t know how deep the water was, but they were right there with us then and we’re excited they’ll be with us in the future.”

MLS was the first professional sports league in the U.S. to permit advertising on uniforms when it approved the practice in 2006. More than half the league’s teams managed to sell a jersey sponsorship, boosting those clubs’ bottom lines by $1 million to as much as $5 million.

MLS Jersey Sponsorships
Team Sponsor Annual value
Los Angeles Galaxy Herbalife $4 million-$5 million
Toronto FC Bank of Montreal $4 million-plus
Seattle Sounders FC Microsoft $4 million
D.C. United Volkswagen $3.1 million-$3.7 million
Chicago Fire Best Buy $2.6 million
Chivas USA Extra $2 million-plus
Houston Dynamo Amigo Energy $1.9 million
Columbus Crew Glidden Paint $1 million
Real Salt Lake XanGo $1 million
Vancouver Whitecaps Bell Canada NA
NA: Not available
Source: SportsBusiness Journal

Other leagues have followed suit in hopes of generating revenue. The WNBA and Women’s Professional Soccer league teams began selling jersey sponsorships last year. Each league has had four teams sign jersey partners.

Many MLS teams have reached the end of their initial jersey agreements and have begun negotiating renewals. The Chicago Fire is negotiating a renewal with its jersey partner, Best Buy, and the Houston Dynamo is negotiating a renewal with jersey partner Amigo Energy.

Real Salt Lake, which signed the first jersey deal in 2007, negotiated a renewal last year with Utah-based beverage company XanGo. Toronto FC’s renewal with Bank of Montreal was the second renewal in the league.

In contrast to the first agreement, Toronto FC was able to show Bank of Montreal the value of jersey partnership. The team has become one of the most popular in the league, selling out 46 consecutive games. It draws an average of 50,000 to 200,000 television viewers a game, and it is third in the league in jersey sales behind Seattle and Philadelphia.

Those impressions should increase in Canada in the future as MLS adds expansion teams in Vancouver in 2011 and Montreal in 2012.

The bank has been a committed supporter of soccer in Canada for years. In addition to the relationship with Toronto FC, where it also holds naming rights for the club’s stadium, it sponsors the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Canadian Soccer Association and the grassroots Canadian nonprofit Play Soccer.

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