Wise Offseason Moves for SKC’s Business Model

Sporting KC show that not all of the successful offseason moves have to be made on the field
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, February 19, 2014

John Hefti Photography - SKC, Sporting KC

You won’t often hear people say that those in charge of Sporting Kansas City don’t know how to do business.

And that’s mostly because as the season approaches, there are positive changes and aspects of Sporting KC that are looking even brighter with offseason decisions.

With astute business moves this offseason, as well as in the past few years since the rebranding, SKC has shown that it’s not just the on-field acquisitions that make Sporting who they are, but also who support the team.

Price Chopper, a grocery store chain located in Missouri and Kansas, was the most recent brand that pits the club with a local entity. With the addition of the grocery store, Price Chopper is now the Sporting Club Network’s title sponsor.

Sporting also made a move to show its dedication to giving fans their liquids whether through beer – KC’s own Boulevard Brewing Company is Sporting’s Official Craft Beer – or through caffeine.

This winter, Sporting KC announced a partnership with Kansas City’s The Roasterie, as the Official Coffee of Sporting KC, to bring the locally produced coffee to home matches, and to the masses of Kansas City at area grocery stores, through Sporting Blend – a signature blend of coffee that is sure to get soccer fans hyped at games or for games.

Getting some big name local businesses to link arms with Sporting KC – like Price Chopper and The Roasterie did – is a great way to spread the word about those brands and coincides with an intelligent method for Sporting KC’s players to make appearances which melds both business and sport. The way that SKC have so wisely paired up with sponsors and partners shows the seriousness of the club and the desire to improve and enhance the lives of those that are impacted by those partnerships.

Another smart move that was made in these winter months was the building up of the Sporting Club Network’s Academy Affiliates. The Academy Affiliates started with just 2 in 2011 with Sporting Blue Valley and Sporting Kaw Valley. Sporting Lincoln FC was added in 2012 and saw the Sporting brand advance to Nebraska, 3 associations were added in 2013, with one of them located in South Carolina, and finally this winter in 2014, the Northernmost affiliate – located in Minnesota – was gained with Sporting St. Croix coming into the fold.

Now with the number of Affiliates up to 8, thousands of kids and teens are able to wear the Sporting crest with hopes of becoming a professional soccer player. That said, the Academy Affiliates should be of an increasing interest for those who desire to watch up-and-coming players who could possibly turn professional.

Current Sporting KC players who were part of Academy teams include Christian Duke, Kevin Ellis, Jon Kempin, and Erik Palmer-Brown. What’s more, there are a number of former Academy players, who have, or are currently, playing in college. And Academy players have the possible opportunity to become a Homegrown Player. Taking into account the recent news that Serie A team Juventus has its eye on defender Palmer-Brown, playing on a club team that’s part of the Affiliate network should give Academy players a goal for which to strive.

Often already seen in publications like the Sports Business Journal, SKC consistently receives applause for multiple aspects of how they run business. Whether it’s through the team and how SKC manager Peter Vermes and the rest of the coaching staff go about finding and acquiring the right players, or for Sporting Park and the advances in sports technology including Wi-Fi throughout the stadium and a sports app (Sporting Club Uphoria, made through Sporting Innovations – the SKC-owned tech firm – that gives fans an even more robust soccer experience), SKC continues to innovate and expand.

As it is, the shrewder the business moves that Sporting make, the more plaudits they will receive – and fittingly so. And whether it’s partnerships with local businesses, finding specific players to not only fit the Sporting KC roster but to appeal to a broad base of the public, or through becoming connected with soccer clubs throughout the US, Sporting Kansas City seek to continually expand Sporting KC’s fingerprints nationally, as well as on the Midwest soccer market.

NEXT UP: March 8 – Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash., 3 p.m. EST, NBCSN.

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.