360 To Sponsor Football Team, Did Not Get Dreamcast Memo

The Seattle Sounders will be joining the the MLS next year. Means they need a big-time sponsor. Lucky Microsoft were just up the road, then, because it's been announced that the team's sponsor for next season will be...the Xbox 360. As such, the team will have "Xbox 360 Live" splashed across the front of their kit, and the Sounders' home ground will also be referred to as "The Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field" during games. Last time a console was the major sponsor of a football team was when Arsenal's home kit had Dreamcast all over the front of it around a decade ago. That did not end well. Lucky for 360 fans, I don't think it costs quite as much to sponsor the Sounders as it does Arsenal (whose last deal cost Emirates airline $200,000,000). Oh, and the shirt's green! That's got to count for something.

360 To Sponsor Football Team, Did Not Get Dreamcast Memo

KIRKLAND, WASH. – The Seattle Sounders FC announced a multi-year sponsorship with Microsoft Corp. and Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system. The landmark deal is highlighted by the ‘Xbox 360 LIVE' logo featured prominently on the Sounders FC jersey. Sounders FC will debut its new uniforms when the team takes the field for the first time in Spring 2009.

Xbox 360 also will be featured as the presenting sponsor of the Sounders FC annual international tour and will gain entitlement to the team's playing surface, "The Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field". Xbox 360 will be recognized as the official and exclusive video game console of Major League Soccer.

"This is a defining moment for the entire soccer community," said Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth. "We took a very strategic approach in our search for a presenting partner. In our minds it was critical to partner with a locally based, international company with a strong brand, a culture similar to our own, and a commitment to our community. The Xbox reputation for providing products and entertainment experiences that bring people together to compete, hang out and have fun, makes them a perfect partner for our organization."

"Teaming with the Seattle Sounders FC and Major League Soccer is a perfect combination for Microsoft and Xbox 360," said Robbie Bach, president, Entertainment and Devices Division, Microsoft. "Xbox 360 is the new home for sports, and our goal is to entertain a global audience. Sponsoring our hometown team playing the world's favorite sport marked a great opportunity for Microsoft to support our local community and further associate the Xbox 360 brand with soccer's international appeal."

At the heart of the sponsorship is a commitment from the Sounders FC and Xbox 360 to collaborate in developing the team's overall community and philanthropic initiatives.

"One of the most exciting pieces of this sponsorship is the opportunity to work with Microsoft and Xbox 360 to create dynamic community programs and build one of the leading brands of soccer in the U.S.," Vulcan Sports and Entertainment CEO Tod Leiweke said. "We also look forward to building a great relationship with Microsoft employees who live, work and play in our backyard."

Additionally, the sponsorship gives Xbox 360 the right to use MLS league and team marks along with logos and marketing assets at league and select team events such as the Pepsi MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup, Major League Soccer's championship game. The agreement includes player appearances, intellectual property, title nights, website presence, in-stadium exposure - including Xbox 360 fieldboards to be displayed at every MLS game. Xbox 360 also will be a sponsor of MLS grassroots and community initiatives including MLS Futbolito, the League's official 4-v-4 soccer tournament.

"We are proud to welcome Microsoft and Xbox 360 to the Major League Soccer family," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "The addition of one of the world's most prominent brands to Major League Soccer is another indication of the League's growth on the global sports landscape. Xbox 360 fits in perfectly with the Sounders FC brand and with our young and diverse audience that is actively involved in today's digital world."