Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
March 25, 2014: Major League Soccer has a nice, new ride, and it will take players, coaches, executives and fans around the world.
MLS and Soccer United Marketing, the commercial arm of MLS, have signed a multi-year partnership with Etihad Airways naming the national airline of the United Arab Emirates the official airline partner of MLS in the United States.
This marks the Abu Dhabi-based airline’s first multi-year sports sponsorship in the territory. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The alliance supports the air carrier's expansion in the U.S. Etihad Airways currently operates daily flights between its hub at Abu Dhabi Airport and Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. In June, it plans to launch daily flights to Los Angeles; in December it will start a three flights-a-week service to Dallas-Fort Worth.
According to James Hogan, president and CEO for Etihad Airways, “The MLS partnership will enable Etihad Airways to continue to build its brand in the United States, a key market for us, and offers an ideal platform to interact with the millions of sports fans and communities across the country and showcase the airline and services.”
Marketing support will include TV across national broadcast partners and MLS Digital Properties, and the Etihad Airways logo and its messages on LED pitch-side advertising during nationally televised MLS matches. Initial creative declares, "We're proud to be part of the team."
“The MLS partnership will enable Etihad Airways to continue to build its brand in the United States, a key market for us."
In addition, Etihad Airways and MLS said they would work together on a number of activations and initiatives, such as community programs, hosting competitions and promotions for flights and holidays with MLS fans.
In addition to MLS, Etihad Airways’ sponsorship portfolio includes the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C., the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Etihad Stadium in Manchester, Manchester City FC, All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, Harlequins Rugby Club and the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
"We are proud to be the first major sports association in the U.S. for such a prestigious global company," Don Garber, commissioner for MLS, said: in a statement. “On behalf of our clubs, our players and our millions of fans, we welcome Etihad Airways to the MLS family and look forward to working with them to help grow their business in this region.”
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