Bimbo, one of the largest bakeries in the world, will pay a reported $12 million over four years to sponsor the Philadelphia Union's shirts. At $3 million annually, it is a pretty standard deal by MLS standards. Of the other 12 teams that currently have sponsors, only the Seattle Sounders ($4 million a year from XBox), Los Angeles Galaxy ($4-5 million from Herbalife), Vancouver Whitecaps ($4 million from Bell) and Toronto FC ($4 million from BMO) are getting more for their shirts.
While many are having some fun at the expense of the Union, pointing out that the letters b-i-m-b-o mean something different in the U.S. than they do in other parts of the world, the fact is the Union would have to sell almost zero shirts to not come out ahead in this deal. Under MLS rules, teams keep all but $500,000 of their shirt deals, which leaves the Union with an extra $2.5 million every year. Throw in the fact that Bimbo makes food that almost every American is very familiar with - Entenmann's, Oroweat and Tomas' English Muffins are just some of their products - and the fact that their main U.S. bakery is in Pennsylvania, this really seems like a huge win for one of MLS's younger teams.
The Brotherly Game's Scott Kessler does the trouble of going through some of the pluses and minuses of this deal, but there's probably not much reason to go beyond his first pro: "How can you be a loser when you bring in $3 million-a-year and create a huge media buzz for a young team?"