The Union and Subaru announced a major new sponsorship deal Tuesday that will see the team’s stadium in Chester renamed as Subaru Park.
It’s the first time that the Japanese car manufacturer, whose U.S. headquarters is in Camden, has done a deal like this with any major-league sports team.
The financial value of the deal was not disclosed, but what is known is that it’s the first fully new sponsor for the stadium since the Union launched a decade ago. Previous sponsor Talen Energy was a spinoff of the stadium’s original sponsor, Allentown-based utility company PPL. The stadium’s name changed from PPL Park to Talen Energy Stadium after the 2015 season.
Subaru also is partnering with the Union on four community service initiatives: supporting pet adoption and animal welfare, childhood cancer patients, youth soccer in under-served communities, and environmental awareness. The last of those will include a recycling program and a community garden on the stadium grounds that will supply fresh produce to nearby communities.
“This is about two organizations coming together and making a positive impact on the Philadelphia region,” said Union chief business officer Tim McDermott, who began talks with Subaru a year ago.
Union majority owner Jay Sugarman said that Subaru wrote a satisfactory check, but that the community service offering mattered a lot to him and the team. That was proved right off the bat during a news conference at the stadium, when Subaru of America CEO and president Thomas J. Doll presented youngsters from the Roxborough Soccer Club with new equipment.
“The passion that Subaru has already shown in terms of their initiatives and how they fit with ours ... I think this is the perfect partner to start really building on some of the things we did in the last couple of years,” Sugarman said.
That track record includes funding a relaunched varsity soccer team at Chester High School, and a joint pledge with Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department to build 15 mini-pitches and two full-sized fields in the city.
“Was there more money out there? Maybe, but as soon as we realized [Subaru] is the right partner for us, we kind of shut down those other conversations and focused on this,” Sugarman said.
MLS commissioner Don Garber came down from the league’s New York headquarters for the occasion, and said he was impressed by the deal.
“With all of the different partners that our teams have and the league has, I don’t think I’ve really met one that really is focused so much on giving back into the community,” Garber said, “and trying to find ways that their company can improve our environment, improve society and really make this country a better place.”
The Union also announced a trio of major enhancements to the stadium complex. The most prominent is a new video board over the west stands, where the old video board stood. It will span 109 feet by 32 feet, offering a 281% increase in screen size and a 200% increase in resolution compared to the old board. There will also be new LED ribbon boards at field level and atop the seating bowl, and more than 200 new monitors around the stadium, including the main concourse.
Under the River End stands, the Union will launch a high-end lounge called the Tunnel Club. It soft-opened last year, and is now fully operational for fans with some of the highest-end tickets.