SBJ/April 11-17, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Starwood books league’s hotel category

Major League Soccer has signed a multiyear partnership with Four Points by Sheraton, the value hotel brand owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Terms and value of the partnership were not available. MLS brought on Four Points last year, with a short-term partnership for the 2010 MLS Cup playoffs.

“We did a test run with them to get to know the property and to see if [Four Points] was interested in a broader deal,” said Kathy Carter, president of Soccer United Marketing. “We thought they had a great point of view on soccer.”

At the 2010 MLS Cup in Toronto, Four Points received field board branding and a spot in the Soccer Celebration expo. The hotel chain ran a contest that awarded free weekend stays in Canada.

Brian McGuinness, Starwood’s senior vice president of specialty select brands, said MLS is an ideal partner for the Four Points demographic, which he described as 25 to 40 years old, married, and with a $100,000 household income. He said MLS fans’ willingness to travel to away games was also a selling point.

“The fans have a lot of passion, and we liked the global nature of soccer,” McGuinness said. “They travel in good numbers.”

McGuinness said the deal is the first sports sponsorship for the Four Points brand, although Starwood’s other hotels, such as Sheraton, W Hotels and Westin, have experience in sports marketing.

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