HOUSTON – On the modern soccer landscape, having a jersey sponsor has become a status symbol.
Beyond the financial benefits, clubs' jerseys often provide as much connection to the club they represent as their logos or crests. And after two years without a shirt sponsor, the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday announced a multi-year agreement with BHP Billiton.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But for the Dynamo, the deal ends an exhaustive search and provides a boost on the financial side, while also enhancing the club’s image.
“I think from all perspectives this is a very important deal to conclude and finalize,” Dynamo president of business operations Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com. “Certainly from a business perspective it’s important for us, but also from a soccer and credibility perspective it’s important for us. We’re pleased to have been able to finalize this deal and move forward with a great partner.”
While the absence of a sponsor has no impact on the play of the club, the perception to which Canetti alludes took a hit when the club ended their agreement with Greenstar Recycling in 2012. That deal gave Houston financial viability while also connecting them with a local corporation that shared their community values.
When looking for a replacement, the Dynamo sought a company that provided similar attributes. While Canetti declined to speak on the financial terms of the deal, in BHP – an Australian-based mining, metals and petroleum company that has a headquarters in Houston with nearly 3,000 employees – he believes they have found a partner that checks all the boxes.
“It’s a global brand that shares a lot of the same values as a company that we do, and has strong ties to the city of Houston and a commitment to the community,” Canetti said. “There’s a lot that aligns with us.”
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Houston will debut the new logo immediately, starting with Friday’s July 4 showdown with the New York Red Bulls (8:30 pm ET, NBCSN). That sense of immediacy looks to have pushed the negotiations along as both sides saw an opportunity to capitalize right off the bat.
“Sometimes these deals take a year and a half, but I think this one was more a matter of months,” said Canetti, who credited Dynamo executive vice president Steven Powell for his work on the deal. “Steve was able to get them interested and they understood there was a chance to get on for 2014. To do that they needed to move quickly, and they did that.”
One value the two partners share is the importance of connecting to the female soccer community, and the agreement includes placement of the company’s logo on the backs of the jerseys of the club's NWSL outfit, the Houston Dash.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.