SAN JOSE, Calif. – After four blank seasons, the San Jose Earthquakes will have a jersey sponsor in 2016.
According to team president David Kaval, it was worth the wait for a deal that he says helps put the team among the league's elite.
“It puts you on par with a lot of very high-end teams in the league,” Kaval told reporters after the club's new home jerseys were unveiled. “And I think that gives us flexibility in terms of making the investments we need – whether it’s investments in the academy, whether it’s investments in players – to just make us a better, higher-quality team. And that’s a great luxury to have.”
Kaval said the team’s deal with Bay Area healthcare provider Sutter Health, announced Tuesday, puts the Quakes among the top five MLS clubs in terms of jersey-sponsorship revenue – as measured in cash, not in-kind payments. That’s an impressive haul for a club that hadn’t featured a sponsor’s logo since their contract with Amway Global ended in 2011.
“With this quality of partner, to also get a very high dollar number is really kind of the Holy Grail in these kind of partnerships,” Kaval said. “We were very deliberate in this process, about making sure we had a partner that we felt could be the most successful brand and company for the Earthquakes. Because whoever’s on your chest, it’s a reflection of who you are as a club.”
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Successfully opening Avaya Stadium last year undoubtedly helped net a better jersey agreement the Quakes, who previously had played in undersized and antiquated Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University. The Quakes sold out every regular-season match in 2015 at Avaya, which has a listed capacity of 18,000.
Kaval said the club had been in serious talks with Sutter for roughly six months before striking the accord.
“There were other opportunities that we had to pass on because we just didn’t feel that it was the right fit for the organization,” Kaval said. “It would have set us back. ... [Getting] Sutter, I think, is a great validation of that decision and that course that we’re on.”