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Volume 23 No. 28
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Orlando City looking to Brazil

Orlando City SC is marketing naming rights for its new stadium internationally through strong ties in Brazil with the team’s owner and star player.

Flavio Augusto da Silva, Orlando City’s owner and chairman, and Kaka, the newest MLS club’s first designated player, are both Brazilians and two of the country’s biggest personalities.

Both have huge followings on social media, enabling the team to reach millions of fans, according to Orlando City officials.

Brazil also happens to be the top country outside the U.S. for tourism in Orlando, followed by the United Kingdom, team spokesman Lenny Santiago said.

As a result, Orlando City, which is selling naming rights in-house, has zeroed in on Brazil as well as the United States to find the right partner. On a secondary level, the U.K. is also in the mix, said Rob Parker, the team’s vice president of corporate partnerships.

Orlando City has had multiple discussions with three to four potential partners across aviation, banking, technology and consumer products. It’s been a mix of Brazilian and U.S. companies doing business in both countries, Parker said.

To date, no deal for naming rights has been signed. The team is seeking a 10-year term. Parker would not say how much Orlando City is asking for naming rights but most deals for MLS stadiums are valued at $2 million annually, according to SportsBusiness Journal research.

Internationally, Rio Tinto Stadium, the home of Real Salt Lake named for a British mining company, is one example of a global brand putting its name on an MLS venue.

In Orlando, da Silva provides an interesting profile around which the team can build a platform for its stadium naming-rights partner, as well as eight to 10 founding partners. Nineteen years ago, the 42-year-old entrepreneur launched Wise Up, a program in Brazil to teach English to adults in 18 months that spread to 400 schools across five countries. Wise Up was an official sponsor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The new MLS team is pitching Brazilian firms to buy naming rights to its new stadium.
Da Silva sold his business in 2013 to a Latin American media firm but he remains with the company as its third-largest shareholder, overseeing the development of its operations worldwide. He is a role model in his native country, Parker said.

“The more I learn about Flavio, the more I consider him to be the Mark Cuban of Brazil,” he said. “His story resonates with young people down there.”

Kaka, on loan from São Paulo FC, is set to be paid $7 million next season, which will make him MLS’s highest-paid player, after signing in July with Orlando City. He has 21 million Twitter followers and is Brazil’s second-most-popular player behind Cristiano Ronaldo, team officials said.

The team also is pitching the opportunity for sponsors to further expose their brands outside the stadium’s four walls, Parker said.

The stadium site is about two blocks west of Amway Center and not far from the bars and restaurants that make up Church Street Station on the other side of Interstate 4. It’s also near a proposed entertainment district that the Orlando Magic plans to develop over the next few years.

In addition, the University of Central Florida recently announced a plan, pending state funding, to build a $200 million downtown campus to serve 10,000 students. “For the right brand, it’s in the heart of downtown Orlando in an area that’s growing quickly,” Parker said.

Ground will be broken this week on the 18,000-seat stadium, designed by Populous and built by Barton Malow. It is expected to open in March 2016.