The Chicago Fire will have a new look for the 2008 season. The players will be sporting a new jersey sponsored by Best Buy. The two organizations recently completed a three-year, multi-million dollar deal announced on Tuesday afternoon.
"This is huge," Fire defender C.J. Brown said. "When I started with the Fire our sponsors were league sponsors. This is another big step in the right direction for the league and also for the Fire. You're in good company when you have Best Buy in your corner."
Chicago's jerseys will look the same. They have the Fire logo on the chest and the stripe on the front. Only this time, instead of the stripe reading Chicago or Fire, it will read Best Buy.
Best Buy will be featured on all Fire jerseys from the MLS game-day jerseys down to the Chicago Fire Academy uniforms. The company will also have signage around Toyota Park. The logo is already on the backdrop for press conferences, along with the Fire and Toyota Park logos.
"This is another tremendous statement of what is happening around the league," said Fire CEO and president John Guppy. "This is a corporation, which saw the great things we have going on and wanted to be a part of that. This is the latest punctuation that shows our sport is growing at a rapid level."
Best Buy saw it as a great opportunity to get their name out there, nationally and internationally.
"We are very excited and proud to now be on the Chicago Fire jersey," said Teresa Iglesias-Solomon, vice president of multicultural incentives at Best Buy. "We look at this as continuation of our growth in soccer. It's the biggest sport worldwide, and rapidly growing in America. Wherever the Fire goes, we will be with them as a part of the jersey."
Another part of the agreement has Best Buy sponsoring many community events, including the Fireworks for Kids Kicks for Kids program and the annual Frank Klopas golf outing.
"We're really trying to commit ourselves to connecting with the community," Iglesias-Solomon said. "We look forward to being able to get out there and getting to know our customers."
Chicago Fire fans have never been shy about their love for their team. Even today at a small press conference, there were a handful of fans there sporting the red and white jersey. Brand recognition with soccer has a lot to do with the jersey.
"Whether you call it soccer or football, the word that unites fans is passion -- that special connection between a fan and his team," Guppy said. "Soccer jerseys are really the essence of the club, the core of our identity. There is no other sport where at the end of the game, the players take off their jerseys and trade them with the other team."
Javan Cato and Denise Guerrero work at the Burbank Best Buy. They were both sporting scarves and smiles at the end of the press conference. Both have been to Fire games and plan on continuing their support.
"This is a huge opportunity for us all," Cato said. "Best Buy is always looking for ways to communicate with the community. We're excited the Fire is so close."
Said Guerrero: "I'm wearing my Fire jersey under my Best Buy shirt. I've always been a fan of the Fire. This agreement is exciting." The Fire is the seventh MLS team to complete a corporate jersey sponsorship. The New York Red Bulls also has the company's logo on their jersey, but it's a different agreement since Red Bull owns the team. The Fire jerseys are expected to be available in March. Chicago kicks off the regular season March 29 at Real Salt Lake.