LAFC is first in MLS with sleeve sponsorship deal

Newest Member of the Golden Boot Club

MIAMI, Fla. (October 15, 2019) —

Los Angeles Football Club has added a new corporate sponsor to its lineup. The club revealed that retail giant Target will join the exclusive Golden Boot Club beginning in January 2020, serving as the Official Retailer of LAFC. The multi-year partnership includes the Target logo prominently displayed on the left sleeve of LAFC’s primary and secondary shirts.

“This is another historic day for our Club as we welcome Target to the Black & Gold family,” said LAFC President and Owner Tom Penn. “Target is an innovative leader that shares our passion for culture, community and inclusivity. We’re proud to showcase Target on our jerseys and throughout the LAFC community.” 

“With a strong presence in the Los Angeles community, we’re thrilled to team up with the Los Angeles Football Club,” said William White, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Target. “We support soccer because we know how much our guests love this sport, and we’re excited to bring the bullseye to the jerseys of the Black & Gold.”

LAFC’s elite level of partnership is the Golden Boot Club, which provides exclusive access, visibility and experiences for its members. As the newest member of LAFC’s Golden Boot Club, Target joins Banc of California, Delta Air Lines/Aeromexico, Heineken, Kaiser Permanente, Toyota and YouTube TV.

The Target sleeve patch will also be present on shirts sold in retail.

Major League Soccer (MLS) announced approval of sponsored sleeve patch sales on team uniforms in October 2018. The new initiative is a multi-year pilot program, and available only to those clubs that have already secured a primary jersey sponsor.

The terms of the arrangement were not disclosed, but my research suggests said that MLS sleeve deals could be worth anywhere between US$500,000 and US$1 million per year. Given the success that LAFC has had, and their location in the nation’s No. 2 media market, it seems likely that the Target sleeve sponsorship will earn above the estimated range.

The size of the sponsored sleeve patch will be roughly the same size as the existing MLS logo on the right jersey sleeve, roughly 2.5 by 2.5 inches.

The deal comes at the close of LAFC’s second season, which saw them winners of the MLS Supporters Shield, and an upcoming game for the MLS’s Western Conference championship.

LAFC’s Carlos Vela chases down a ball during a match on April 13.
LAFC’s Carlos Vela chases down a ball during a match on April 13. Photographer: Harry How/Getty Images

Target is already heavily invested in MLS. The Minneapolis-based company is the main shirt partner for Minnestoa United FC. It is also a league partner.

In addition to the sleeve patch, Target will place its logo on digital signs around the team’s stadium. The company also has the right to brand a field-level suite where the club entertains VIP guests and celebrities.

Being the first to announce a sleeve partner was a goal for the team, according to Penn, who compared it to the team’s 2018 YouTubeTV deal, when it became the first major U.S. franchise to award its local TV rights to a streaming provider.

“We love being first,” said Penn, who is also an LAFC owner.

Data Analytics

LAFC studied data gathered by the club in order to help sell potential partners on the new ad space, including metrics such as the exposure its jersey had received in 2019 from live broadcasts, highlight videos, social-media posts and news coverage. For example, over the first six months of this season, the MLS patch on the other sleeve received 550 million impressions.

“Every time Carlos Vela does something dramatic and the goal footage goes global, it will have a Target mark right on the sleeve,” LAFC President Tom Penn said. “It’s easy to quantify the number of impressions and the extent of the exposure that the partner gets.”

Selling sleeve patches aligns MLS with prominent soccer leagues across the world, such as La Liga Santander and the English Premier League, where teams have both a main shirt sponsor and a second logo on the sleeve.

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Aug 25, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; LAFC players pose for team photo prior to kickoff. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LAFC Background

Los Angeles Football Club became the second MLS club in Los Angeles, joining the Los Angeles Galaxy, after owners paid $110 million in 2014 to establish the team. It started play in 2018 and immediately became one of MLS’s most valuable franchises, according to Forbes.

LAFC is controlled by a trio of owners — Apollo Global Management senior partner Larry Berg, Ares Management co-founder Bennett Rosenthal and Riot Games Inc. co-founder Brandon Beck. Other investors include Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, who is also co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., actor Will Ferrell, soccer star Mia Hamm, and former Los Angeles Lakers player Earving “Magic” Johnson.