Crew SC President of Business Operations, Andy Loughnane:
On the significance of the new kit and sponsorship . . .
"When we set about finding our next jersey partner, we knew that we wanted a company that had strong Ohio roots and, again, given their presence in the manufacturing sector here, as well as their strength in sales, this was a phenomenal fit from our perspective. The fact that we are also able to unveil a new kit that is a return to some of our heritage elements and that it happens to have the Acura brand is an outstanding connection. For us, there is no more important commercial relationship to get right and we believe that, the star of today’s show, we got this right."
On the three year deal . . .
"Yeah and it’s the three year minimum and we hope that this is a long term partnership, but with Tom Peyton, Acura, and us we view this as an opportunity to have at least three years and we hope that it’s much longer."
On the expectations for the season . . .
"You know, we start each year with an expectation to be in the playoffs and make deep runs in the playoffs and this year will be no different. That is Anthony’s [Precourt] vision. That’s certainly Gregg’s [Berhalter] vision and this is Gregg’s baby, but at the end of the day our expectation is to return to the playoffs. And quite frankly Acura has an expectation that we return to the playoffs and compete for championships each year and we take that very seriously."
On the significance of the new kit to supporters . . .
"You know, it’s fun. Going through the design process itself, we try to consider how we can pay homage to the people who have gotten us this far and the supporters are obviously at the top of that list and that black check pattern is our nod to the supporters. And so it’s very important to incorporate our most important ingredient and it was an easy decision. Just like having the state of Ohio was a key ingredient to our success, having them adorn our kit as well."
On the reaction to the new kit and sponsorship . . .
"It feels like most, if not all people, feel like we’ve created an incredible association with a premium brand and we believe this is a bold step forward for the club. The kit itself is a return to heritage, but Acura as a partner is a bold step forward."
On the gold kit becoming the primary . . .
"The For Columbus kit had a very important purpose. And that was to develop closer ties to the city that we are proud to call home and it was successful in a lot of metrics and was planned to be a one year cycle. That one year cycle concluded and we knew that the gold is the standard within our kit portfolio, so this was a very easy and very well planned cycle. The jerseys are essentially planned two years out, so I’ve already got ’18 in my office and we’ll soon start ’19 very shortly. But this was a very well orchestrated decision and I know that from a supporter perspective, having the gold within our kit portfolio is important and we’re happy we are able to satisfy that. And I suspect that for a long time come, the gold will continue to serve as the primary kit within our kit portfolio."
On the rewards of the new sponsorship . . .
"It’s fun having a relationship with a brand that hasn’t necessarily taken this degree of involvement in our market and in our sport, so we’re essentially sort of trailblazing and we love being a team of first. So here we are, yet again another team of firsts with a really powerful brand. This is their first foray into soccer, their first foray into Columbus, I think that’s an awesome connection."
On the growth of the business during his tenure . . .
"We’ve made strides forward. We’ve got a lot of room to grow. So today is a celebration of Acura and as far as next things in our queue, we’ve got to continue to grow our attendance. Our attendance has grown over the last several years. Anthony [Precourt] has invested in the club and we want to continue to keep up with the high water mark of Major League Soccer. So while we grow, our peer set in Major League Soccer grows sometimes faster than us and we’ve got to continue to build our attendance. Again, today’s about Acura. There are plenty of things that we’ll need to focus on, including that making sure that they are a satisfied jersey partner."
Acura AVP, Marketing Operations Tom Peyton
On the significance of this investment . . .
"A couple things. Obviously we have a long term investment in the manufacturing base here and lots of employees have built Acuras for a long time and as we have highlighted we are continuing to move more production into town. So continuing to make marketing investments and sponsorship investments is only a natural thing that we are looking forward to doing."
On choosing Crew SC . . .
"You always love being affiliated with a team that’s had success, that looks like it’s going to continue to have success, that’s a proven winner. As a sponsor that’s always the team you want and they seem to have a great culture here, so we were attracted to that too."
On the benefits to their business . . .
"As I mentioned in my prior comments, we index, with our owners very high for soccer. So a lot of the people that are considering buying Acuras now, follow MLS or FIFA or other elements of soccer, so it’s going to help us track them and make an emotional appeal to them. Because if we think like they think, that always helps you with a car sale."
On reasoning behind sponsoring an MLS team . . .
"I think that’s a very important point, because this isn’t just a local investment. This is a national sponsorship that we’re looking at. And it’s a national sponsorship for the fact, certainly, that we are able to have an identity here but it’s wonderful to go to other key markets for Acura, which are primarily the major metros, and go to New York and go to Boston and have that local and TV exposure that goes along with that. You’re right. MLS is a real opportunity by being able to sell that opportunity."
On the positive response . . .
"It is fantastic. Again, we’ve had the similar response at the plants when they heard about this. They said “wow”. You always want to hopefully you can add value to the situation and to feel welcome. It certainly enhances our ability to want to do everything possible to make this a great experience for the fans and a great outcome for the team."
On the decision to sponsor a team this season . . .
"It’s all of the above. Anytime you do a sponsorship like this, it’s usually not just one element. You check the box on several different elements and they sort of all came into alignment on this, but you got to love the expansion the team is having in new key markets and expanded stadiums, better TV deals. All of those didn’t exist to the degree that they did a few years ago. It’s a better sponsor opportunity right now."
On the possibility of special luxury packages on Acura models . . .
"We were talking about, and this is probably heresy with the plant guys, but wouldn’t that NSX look good in yellow and black, but we’ll have to see if we can accommodate anything like that."