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Volume 23 No. 28
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Earthquakes turning to agency Pivot

The San Jose Earthquakes have hired San Francisco-based marketing agency Pivot to help the MLS club explore sponsorship deals for its jersey and new stadium.

Pivot is owned and operated by former Golden State Warriors sponsorship executive Ben Shapiro.
The agreement, effective the start of this year, is for eight months with options to extend. Financial details were not available.

A league insider said naming rights for the planned stadium, which will seat 18,000 and is scheduled to open in 2015, could bring between $2 million and $3 million in annual revenue. The Earthquakes are expected to pursue a long-term agreement, in the range of 10 to 15 years.

San Jose Earthquakes President Dave Kaval was recently introduced to Shapiro by Shapiro’s brother, David. Kaval is on the advisory board of the Positive Coaching Alliance, a not-for-profit foundation launched out of Stanford University that promotes character-building in sports. David Shapiro is the chief revenue officer of PCA.

“Ben has deep business connections in the San Jose community that we are anxious to tap into,” Kaval said.

Before starting Pivot in late 2012, Shapiro spent 13 years with the Warriors, the last four as executive vice president of sales and partnership development.

“I was part of a team that negotiated four seven-figure, long-term deals in my last season with the Warriors [with Clorox, Jawbone, Kaiser Permanente and Visa], and I’m hoping to do the same for the Earthquakes,” Shapiro said. “Between the rise of MLS and the popularity of the Earthquakes as they move into a new stadium, there’s great opportunity here.”

Pivot’s clients include Clorox, Fiat/Maserati, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Phizzle and several local universities, including Santa Clara and Pacific. In sports, Pivot works with MMA Inc. and Artemis Racing, the America’s Cup team from Sweden. The agency, which also has an office in New York, has five full-time employees.

The Earthquakes are also looking to sign founding partners for the new stadium. 7UP Bottling, a subsidiary of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, signed a six-year deal in the mid-six figures annually in September to become the first founding partner. Sources said PetersenDean, a California-based roofing and solar systems company, will be formally introduced in the coming weeks as the next one.

Each founding partner will receive naming rights to a segment of the stadium, such as a terrace, party deck or the planned all-standing section for supporters.

The Earthquakes have been without a jersey sponsor since the end of 2011, when a three-year deal with Amway expired. MLS clubs typically receive between $2 million and $4 million annually from those deals.