The MLS team’s 18,000-seat venue will be known as PayPal Park, according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the final contract isn’t yet complete. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.
Representatives for PayPal didn’t respond to an inquiry. The Earthquakes and Elevate Sports Ventures, which was hired in November to help sell the rights, declined to comment.
Earthquakes Stadium, which opened in 2015, is less than three miles from PayPal’s San Jose headquarters and adjacent to the city’s international airport. The venue is owned by the team and has hosted MLS games, international soccer matches, rugby, lacrosse and volleyball. The rights are likely worth between $2 million and $4 million per year, according to sponsorship consultant Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group.
The deal also comes as North American soccer enters what many expect to be its most important five-year stretch. The U.S. will be the primary host of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, alongside Canada and Mexico, an event that will give the sport a massive influx of attention, exposure and investment. (MLS itself was born out of the 1994 World Cup, held entirely in the U.S.).
Though COVID-19 has created a short-term headache for sponsorship agreements, especially pricey naming-rights deals, most insiders don’t foresee any permanent changes to the market. There have already been a handful new ones announced during the pandemic, including a 20-year, $275 million deal between UBS and the New York Islanders, and a partnership between Ball Corp. and the owners of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets.
In MLS, Austin FC recently announced a naming-rights deal with Q2 Holdings. Back in June, Sportico reported that Banc of California was paying $20.1 million to unwind its 15-year, $100 million partnership with LAFC, at the time one of the largest naming-rights deals in MLS history.
Earthquakes Stadium also had a previous partnership end early. The team’s 10-year, $20 million deal with Avaya, announced in 2014, ended in 2018 after the telecom company filed for bankruptcy protection. The stadium has been without a naming partner since.
PayPal, which owns mobile payment service Venmo, is the jersey-patch sponsor of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. The company is an official partner of Spanish soccer club Mallorca (also owned by Suns managing partner Robert Sarver) and the Football Association, the governing body of English soccer.