It’s been almost a month since speculation came out that the Earthquakes were in talks with Stryker Medical, and other companies, to be a kit sponsor. The Quakes even delayed the tentative release of their “Away” kit from Tuesday to Friday last week (MLS told them they had to reveal last week during the “New Kit” week), buying as much time as they could to try and get the deal done, but nothing was announced. Surely something would happen this week, but time ticks by.
Securing a sponsor is not as easy as it may seem. In other leagues, teams are their own entity, so anyone with enough cash to spend can buy the rights to a team’s jersey. However, MLS is a single entity, which means MLS owns the teams. As such, MLS has an understanding with its many sponsors: we won’t have teams sponsoring your competition. If there is a big company already sponsoring a team, like Microsoft/Xbox, companies like Sony/Playstation are already out of the running (incidentally/coincidentally right after I posted about VYSK, the Burlingame Dragons got sponsored by PS4 and the Quakes did not. Proof is in the pudding!). This significantly limits the sponsorship pool, hence the Quakes are trying to secure a sponsor with one hand tied behind their backs.
Then you have the strike. With a strike looming, a sponsor is not going to sign the sponsorship contract and hope a season starts. They want a guarantee their goods will be advertised in games. A CBA was finalized at the 11th hour last week, but the delay may have cost the team their potential sponsor. The potential sponsor may have gotten cold feet and backed out, or it might be trying to renegotiate the terms since a potential delay in the season cost them TV time, which brings yet another round of negotiations.
The selling point for a sponsor will be Avaya’s opening day. The Quakes are not expected to do well this season, but a new stadium always brings hype. Each day into the season is one less day of advertising for the sponsor, and one less reason to sponsor the team. A sponsor definitely will not want to sign a deal mid-season after the opening day match, unless it’s at a significant discount. If something does not get announced soon, it may be a sponsorless season altogether.
Post-Script: In keeping with Murphy’s Law, do not be surprised if the sponsor announcement comes out in the next day or two.