The Red Bulls have struck another corporate partnership, signing a large deal with Bayer AG, one of the largest pharmaceutical firms in New Jersey.
Bayer will serve as the life sciences partner for the team, and will work with the Red Bulls to produce "community services initiatives." One example will be Bayer serving as presenting partner for the Sept. 11 New York Red Bulls match against the Chicago Fire, where 9/11 first responders and military veterans will be honored at the game.
This deal is the first major one executed under Darren Meyer, the team's newest Director of Marketing Partnerships and Premium Services. Moreover, this is the second major deal this year, following the deal signed with Yanmar.
Joshua Burd of NJBiz.com broke the news, as the Red Bulls continue to pursue expanding their corporate support. Although the deal with the Red Bulls will be the first with a Major League Soccer team, it is not their first flirtation with soccer. For those familiar with the Bundesliga, Bayer 04 Leverkusen was started by the firm in 1904 as a club for employees of the firm, and grew tremendously in the last 111 years.
"The opportunity to partner with a major sports franchise like the New York Red Bulls, that shares this dedication, is a perfect match," Raymond F. Kerins, Jr., Senior Vice President of Bayer said in a statement.
"This partnership is about working together to improve the lives of individuals across New York and New Jersey."
This foray into more business deals stemming from Marc de Grandpre's campaign to fill up the luxury suites at the Arena with more business partners. As of March 2015, 22 of the 32 boxes are occupied by big New Jersey firms. The strides made in this aspect of the game is remarkable, but it could seem that these deals stem from a sense of urgency.
Rumors have been spun around that the team's budget has been tightening since the departure of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, coupled with the fact the team lacks an MLS Cup. As of the last several years, the New York Red Bulls had quite a large budget, regarding salaries, but this year they're on the opposite polar end of the spectrum.
Per a 2012 Forbes report, the New York Red Bulls had taken an operating hit, as they had the largest operating losses of any MLS side. Although it seems there was no immediate reaction then, the numbers could be catching up with the Red Bulls offices. Salzburg surely had expected a larger ROI after bringing in big name players and a top-notch stadium, but sadly they fell just short of their chase for the MLS Cup.
With another season upon the team, another overhaul came about. New staff were brought in, some players were dropped, and Bradley Wright-Phillips received a pay-grade increase, achieving Designated Player status. Overall, it seems the team's budget is only about a third of what it was when Henry and Cahill were present.
As mentioned in the cited NJBiz article, a year before, only six suites were occupied by corporate partners. Now, 22 call those suites their home game seats. Although the details of each deal were not disclosed (other than the cost of leasing the box: $100,000 per year), it remains clear that the team is looking for local money to help fund the team's operations.
If one has been to many games the past several years - you're sure to have received an Affinity, Prudential, or Blue Cross rally towel. Not that it should imply potential divestment, but that they understand that MLS is a different market than Germany's or Austria's leagues.
Moving forward, one would be remiss to say these deals will not continue. The team has to be able to operate and sustain itself now, and perhaps prove to Red Bull the investments are paying off. Should that be the case - more investments may follow, and the team may dish out large money for future transfer fees. Time will tell, but the pendulum is moving in the right direction.