Rapids could have shirt sponsor deal by end of July

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Shirt sponsorship for the Colorado Rapids appears to be closer to reality than ever before.

Rapids chief marketing officer Tim Hinchey told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday he is optimistic such a deal can be clinched by the end of next month, and that it will be done for sure by the end of the season.

“Our objective has always been this year, and I know it will be a 2011 result,” he said. “I don’t see this taking us past the regular season and I would like to think it will be before the end of July.”

The MLS Cup champions are talking with a number of parties about possible jersey sponsorship. Those companies are both locally based and headquartered outside of Colorado, Hinchey said.

If the jersey deal did happen, it would add significantly to the overall increase in sponsorship the club is enjoying this year.

MillerCoors has sponsored the new terrace area at the north end of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Westerra Credit Union is this season’s presenting sponsor and Porsche is now sponsoring a Chairman’s Club on the second floor of the stadium complex for visiting MLS chairmen and directors from other clubs. All three of those deals were significant six-figure contracts, with Westerra being the biggest, followed by MillerCoors and Porsche, Hinchey said.

But a jersey deal would be a “game-changer,” according to Hinchey.

“The buzz is very positive as we continue to work with potential clients,” he said.

It remains unclear exactly how much money could be allocated to new players if such a jersey deal were inked. Head coach Gary Smith has told MLSsoccer.com that he has not had any substantive discussions about new players coming in through a jersey sponsorship.