FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Union unveiled their first jersey sponsor: Bimbo will grace the front of the Union's jersey starting in 2011.
While attending the MLS Combine in South Florida, Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz spoke with MLSsoccer.com's Greg Lalas about the deal between the club and the multinational baked-goods corporation.
MLSsoccer.com: So how did this deal come about?
Sakiewicz: Grupo Bimbo bought Weston bakeries about three years ago. Great brands -- Thomas English muffins, Arnold bread. Headquartered in Horsham, Pa. When that acquisition was made, we reached out to them because we knew the history Bimbo has with soccer jerseys.
About a year ago, they earmarked 2011 as the launch of the Bimbo brand in the United States. Talks accelerated and it made a lot of sense for them to be positioned on our jersey as part of their launch. Then they also did a deal with the whole league, so they’ll be featured in all 18 stadiums this year.
MLSsoccer.com: How much did the success of the Union in their first season play into this deal? Sellouts and a new stadium have to help.
Sakiewicz: It was huge. Their executives came to our games all year. They saw the passion of the fans and the great stadium; they saw the style of play; they saw our core values in terms of the company we are, which marry up very well to the kind of company they are. ... Grupo Bimbo has a rich soccer tradition. They’re on four other soccer jerseys. So it all came together nicely for the new group that took over the post-acquired Westin Bakeries.
MLSsoccer.com: Most of us are probably familiar with Bimbo from seeing it on the front of several Mexican club jerseys.
Sakiewicz: Yeah, Chivas de Guadalajara, Club Ámerica, Monterrey, and Saprissa in Costa Rica.
MLSsoccer.com: Any connections with those clubs going to come out of this deal, maybe a Bimbo tournament or something?
Sakiewicz: Those ideas are all kind of circulating right now. It kind of makes sense. We did play Chivas de Guadalajara [last year] at our stadium. That actually was part of the thinking process, because we were courting Bimbo at that time. But who knows what we’re going to come up with. A Bimbo Cup could make a lot of sense.
MLSsoccer.com: The deal is reportedly worth around $12 million for four years. Fans want to know what the club will do with that.
Sakiewicz: It’s massive for us, because it’s not just a jersey sponsor and a great name on our jersey, but they’re deploying a few initiatives, one of them being a nationwide Soccer Mom of the Year campaign. They’re going to be going to retail all across the country with all the big retailers, so Major League Soccer and the Philadelphia Union are going to be featured in all 18 markets. It’s great branding for the teams, for the league.
MLSsoccer.com: What about the team itself? How will the proceeds of this deal help the technical side of the club?
Sakiewicz: Nothing directly from the deal right now, other than the fact that there’s a connection to those Bimbo clubs in Mexico and Saprissa. I guess eventually we’ll explore those opportunities, but it’s really a commercial deal first. Not such an impact on the technical side, although we’re exploring the idea of connecting one of our star players to Bimbo to be a spokesman for the brand. We just signed the deal, so there are still a lot of things to play out. They have a lineup of brands that we can do stuff with for the next 20 years, so they’re a great partner.
MLSsoccer.com: Final question: Is your house now loaded with baked goods?
Sakiewicz: I have to watch out because with my waistline, I can’t afford too many baked goods. But I imagine we’ll be buying Entenmenn’s cookies and Thomas’s English muffins and all that stuff.
Full and partial season ticket plans are on sale now for the 2011 season! CLICK HERE for more information on becoming a Union season ticket holder.