COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Three MLS teams went without a shirt sponsor in 2013. But if Colorado Rapids president Tim Hinchey has his way, it’ll be down to at least two by the start of next season.
Hinchey has made securing a shirt sponsor for next season a “top priority,” noting that in addition to the obvious financial boost it would provide the Rapids, a shirt sponsor is viewed by him as the next step in the overall progression as a franchise.
“It’s the next tangible evidence that we’ve progressed as a club in totality,” Hinchey told MLSsoccer.com in a recent, wide-ranging interview from his office.
Hinchey admitted that when he first joined the Rapids in 2010, he thought it would be significantly easier to secure a shirt sponsor than it has proven to be. But after a string of close calls, he remains confident that he’ll be able to get the job done.
“It’s complicated,” Hinchey said of the obstacles. “You’re asking about a significant, seven-figure investment at a minimum of three years; average over the league is $2.6 million per year. That’s not a small ask.
“It requires the very top of a large company to support that, and so therefore we look at our market and we start with the companies that are based here in Colorado.”
Despite the lack of a shirt sponsor, the Rapids made huge strides on and off the field in 2013. Attendance increased for the fourth straight year, season ticket renewals are already at an all-time high, and they inked their first Designated Player in club history back in August when they inked star Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres to a four-and-a-half year deal.
But Hinchey – like many fans – said the shirt sponsor is the club’s next logical step forward, and its absence is a pesky thorn that he’s looking to pluck once and for all.
“We’re in conversations with multiple people,” said Hinchey, who added the club has made recent presentations to potential sponsors. “I lose sleep over it. To me, that’s the next evident thing that we’ve arrived.”
The San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo also played without a jersey sponsor in 2013, but unlike the Rapids, both teams have secured deals in past seasons.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.