The American Track League (ATL) aims to gain more exposure in 2022, and investors hope a new partnership with a global sportswear brand will help swing commercial momentum.
ATL announced a three-year deal with Puma ahead of its season opener on Saturday in Louisville. The agreement is worth “multiples of seven figures,” according to people familiar with the deal, and gives the apparel company title sponsorship rights. The partnership not only includes commercials but is expected to boost the league’s low profile through social activations and in-stadium branding.
The growing league, which features Olympians including Allyson Felix and Ryan Crouser, annually hosts 10 meets across the country aired on ESPN platforms. ATL founder Paul Doyle believes inking multiyear partnerships with recognizable brands like Puma will position ATL to thrive and eventually rival the renowned Wanda Diamond League, an annual series of elite international competitions.
“I feel like this could eclipse the Diamond League on the world stage as the best circuit of track meets,” said Doyle, who also represents track and field athletes. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe that.”
As the league looks to increase viewership numbers in 2022, Doyle hopes this partnership with Puma will grab the attention of companies in other categories. He already expects almost 10 times the number of sponsorships this year compared to last year. The added revenue will allow the league to eventually pay athletes their true market value, as many participants have competed for far less than they normally would in an effort to grow the U.S. league.
“Without that, we wouldn’t be looking at this title sponsorship,” said Doyle who founded ATL in 2014.
Puma (OTCPK: PMMAF) has long been a player in track, with endorsement deals with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including eight-time gold medalist Usain Bolt. Coming off the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the company is doubling down on performance by inking a deal with ATL. Puma will not only promote, but its athletes will be prioritized in being able to compete in events as part of the deal.
The deal is expected to be favorable for competing apparel brands as well, since Puma can potentially drive more awareness and viewership to the league, which features athletes who have their own sponsorship deals with New Balance, Nike (NYSE: NKE) and others.
While track and field has traditionally been considered the signature sport of the Summer Olympics, it has taken a backseat in the States in recent decades compared with other major leagues. ATL nonetheless aims to drive the sport’s popularity with more exposure, and the Puma deal aligns with that mission. The latest deal with Puma aligns with the company’s vision to push the sport forward nationwide.
Doyle added: “I look at this as a massive win for the sport of track and field—not just for the American Track League or Puma.”