When the Minnesota United take the pitch for their first-ever MLS contest on March 3, the players will do so with a bullseye on their chests. Or possibly their backs; maybe even the shorts.
Target will be the official partner and jersey sponsor of United FC, the Minneapolis-based retailer announced Thursday, meaning the Target bullseye will be displayed "prominently" on the United FC's official jerseys. Those kits will be revealed in late February. Branding will also be on the field.
Minnesota United in a release called it a multi-year deal, though didn't offer more specifics on the length of the agreement. Team President Nick Rogers said they're "thrilled to have Target as a partner."
Target's also really into soccer now
In addition to the local team deal, Target is becoming an official partner of Major League Soccer, and bolstering its presence with youth players.
Target is providing a $75,000 grant to the U.S. Soccer Foundation to support the growth of the Soccer for Success program. And it's partnering with the youth program US Youth Soccer to present the Target United Cup – "the largest recreational soccer tournament in the country that will visit 30 to 40 cities," the company says.
Target will also be the official retailer of US Youth Soccer – the company noted separately that soccer sales were up 10 percent last year, the fastest growth of any sporting good. The company said it sold 1 million soccer balls in 2016.
US Youth Soccer says it had than 3 million registered players in 2014 (the latest data available), including more than 76,000 in Minnesota.
The multi-year Target-MLS deal includes airtime during MLS matches (on Univision, FOX Sports and ESPN), plus some stadium experience and player appearance opportunities. It also quite cryptically includes "ownership of certain major MLS platforms, which will be unveiled at a later date," the release says.
Again, not details, but Forbes says Heineken recently landed a five-year, $50 million deal with MLS.
The entire move, United FC says, positions Target – a local company – as "one of the largest supporters and retail locations for soccer in the United States."