American Family Insurance will sponsor Atlanta United’s jerseys for its inaugural season in 2017.
The Madison, Wis.-based company and MLS expansion club announced the multi-year agreement on Tuesday. An unveiling and sales of the team’s jerseys, which will feature the American Family Insurance logo, will be later this year.
“We couldn’t be happier to be with a company like American Family Insurance,” Atlanta United President Darren Eales said. “They share our values and the way they work in the community is in step with Atlanta United, our visions and the way we want to be as a club.”
The jersey sponsor was one of four big questions, along with the look of the jersey, the coach and the first Designated Player, that supporters have consistently asked as the franchise continues to develop with the addition of four players, an under-construction training ground in Marietta, and the building of its front-office staff.
“It’s one of the key moments as we build the club,” Eales said.
Jersey sponsors are an important source of revenue, one of the “big four” money streams that contribute to a team’s financial success in MLS. The team has already achieved the other three: owning Mercedes-Benz stadium and/or revenues, securing stadium naming rights and a strong season-ticket base. The club’s season-ticket sales are underway with more than 31,000 tickets pledged to purchase by members of the team’s Founder’s Club.
Neither the financial terms nor the length of the deal were disclosed by either company. As a comparison, annual sponsorships of MLS jerseys reached as high as $4.4 million (L.A.) 2015, according to www.totalfootballmag.com. That total, for example, is more than enough to cover the $3.66 million salary cap for a team this season. Just two of the league's 20 teams, Colorado (Transamerica) and New England (UHC), are sponsored by insurance companies this season.
By comparison, sponsorships of teams throughout Europe brought in $930 million in the recently completed season, according to Forbes. Teams in the Premier League were the leading revenue generator, with the 20 teams bringing in a total of $370 million.
American Family Insurance Chief Marketing Officer Telisa Yancy said there were many reasons that her company pursued this opportunity. American Family Insurance has been developing its agencies and customer base in Atlanta for the past seven years. American Family Insurance is already a sponsor in the team’s home of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and will also have a fan zone outside of the stadium for Atlanta United’s home games. Yancy said their three-pronged approach with the stadium and soccer team made sense in trying to grow market share in what she says is a competitive field. This will be its first sponsorship of a soccer jersey.
“It’s not just about being present in the stadium,” she said. “These fans wear their prides on their bodies.”
Eales said he didn't anticipate any negative feedback regarding the decision to not form a jersey-sponsorship partnership with an Atlanta-based company. Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank has already agreed to sponsor the team's academy, which includes a presence on the jerseys.
American Family Insurance’s jersey sponsorship also comes with a tryout tour at four stops in the Southeast for players who hope to play for Atlanta United. Eales said the tryouts fit with American Family Insurance’s motto of dream fearlessly. The tryouts will be covered on the team’s digital channels.
“That concept about dream fearlessly is something that all of our fans will be doing,” Eales said. “It’s the same with the players. It’s a chance for everybody who dreams and think they can be a first-team player on Atlanta United.”