SeatGeek Reaches Naming-Rights Agreement For Fire's Stadium
SeatGeek has signed a long-term partnership for the naming rights to the Fire and NWSL Chicago Red Stars' stadium, currently known as Toyota Park. The deal, struck with facility owner Village of Bridgeview, will see the venue renamed SeatGeek Stadium following the final Fire match in '18. As part of the deal, SeatGeek will oversee ticketing at the venue for all future events starting in '19, and will work with venue management partner Spectra to bring more live programming to the facility. Financial terms were not disclosed. It is the first major, consumer-facing naming rights partnership for SeatGeek, which has also placed its name on MLS' National Sales Center in Blaine, Minn. SeatGeek is an official league partner and is aligned with five individual MLS clubs, as well as the Cowboys, Saints and Pelicans. The deal was brokered by W Partners, the joint venture between veteran marketer Wally Hayward and the Cubs' Ricketts family. Toyota's 10-year entitlement deal expired in '16. SeatGeek CMO Jennifer Ogden-Reese said, “We’re definitely at a point in SeatGeek’s brand development where we’re seeking to really build awareness and go in a bigger direction with the brand.” Ogden-Reese said SeatGeek over the last 12-18 months has been much more focused on building its brand than in the past. The company in the past six months made substantial investments in more brand-oriented advertising in out of home channels, resulting in “some really positive momentum,” she said. The deal with the Village of Bridgeview came together quickly in the last several months, she said, providing SeatGeek with “a unique opportunity for us to make major headway into a metro market that is very important to us, as well as drive some awareness.” The company will continue to evaluate branding opportunities like naming rights going forward (Thomas & Fisher, Staff Writers).
BOOST FOR THE CITY: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Eben Novy-Williams wrote the new naming-rights deal for the Fire is a "much-needed boost for a surrounding suburb that's been crippled by debt related to the 12-year-old venue." The Village of Bridgeview had about $260M of "general obligation debt as of February, much of it tied to the stadium." It has "doubled property taxes on its 17,000 residents and recently took on added debt to cover revenue shortfalls from the venue" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 4/19).
JUST WIN, BABY: PRO SOCCER USA's Dan Santaromita noted the announced crowd of 21,915 that attended last week's Galaxy-Fire game in Bridgeview to catch a glimpse of Galaxy F Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the "most for a regular season match" in the stadium's history, and now the Fire have to "keep that excitement after the circus has left town." Santaromita: "How do the Fire keep the stadium filled without high-level star power drawing in neutral fans?" Fire MF Dax McCarty said, "You gotta win games. ... You gotta entertain them. You gotta be a team that's easy to root for, and right now we're struggling a little bit." Santaromita noted the Fire last season had six home games "classified as sellouts." While the Fire "aren't drawing the gigantic crowds" of Atlanta United or the Sounders, and do not have a season-ticket waiting list like the Timbers or even Minnesota United in their new stadium, fans "will come if the team is good" (PROSOCCERUSA.com, 4/19).