Seattle Sounders task WME-IMG with finding new shirt sponsor
The Seattle Sounders, of North American soccer’s MLS have tasked WME-IMG, the combined Hollywood and sports management agency, to find the team a new sponsor.
The team’s shirt sponsorship deal with Xbox, the video game platform owned by computer giants Microsoft, expires at the end of the 2018 season.
Xbox has sponsored the Sounders since their inaugural MLS season in 2009, and the gaming company renewed the agreement in 2013 and 2014.
The initial tie-up was understood to be worth around $20 million but it is expected that the Sounders are looking to bring in around $10 million per year from a new deal.
The agreement also includes naming rights to the pitch at Century Link Field, the venue that the club shares with American football’s Seattle Seahawks.
Michael Shockley, vice-president of the Seattle Sounders, commented: “We have been very pleased with our partnership with Xbox over the years and certainly plan to continue discussions with Microsoft as our current naming rights agreement comes to a close.
"However, with the continued growth and popularity of MLS and our club’s sustained success on the field, we feel the time is right to explore all available partnership options to give our team every possible advantage going forward. We’re proud to be the first MLS club to work with WME | IMG and look forward to their expertise and guidance.”
In 2012, when the Sounders’ first agreement with Xbox was coming to an end, the team hired CAA Sports, the sports arm USA-based entertainment agency, “to explore opportunities in the marketplace” before eventually extending the deal with Xbox.