The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Seattle Sounders FC are set to announce a major sponsorship deal with Microsoft. The $20 million, five-season deal will put the words “‘Xbox 360 LIVE’ on the front of the Sounders’ uniforms,” according to the story, which cites unnamed “people familiar with the arrangement.”
A formal announcement is expected today.
Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, told the Journal, “Getting in on the ground floor with a new franchise and a relatively new league is a great opportunity for us.”
Sounders co-owner and former Walt Disney Chairman Joe Roth said, “We all felt the best place to start in Seattle was Microsoft. It’s an international company but also a local company, which is what soccer should be.”
Microsoft has done little in the way of sports sponsorships, though top executives have played individual roles. Lisa Brummel, senior vice president of human resources, is among the owners of the Seattle Storm WNBA franchise. And CEO Steve Ballmer joined other Seattle businessmen in an unsuccessful, last-minute attempt to keep the Sonics here.
I’ve asked Microsoft and the Sounders FC for comment. I’ll update this post when I hear back.