The NWSL’s Los Angeles-based expansion team, Angel City FC, has added another sponsor to its growing roster of corporate supporters. Health grocer Sprouts Farmers Market will join women’s footwear brand Birdies and food delivery company DoorDash as the club’s third kit sponsor.
The low seven-figure Sprouts deal runs through the 2024 season, the club told Sportico. Angel City’s similar four-year pact with Birdies was also a seven-figure deal, while DoorDash’s five-year agreement was reportedly valued in the low eight-figure range. The food delivery company’s deal with Angel City is the NWSL’s largest shirt sponsorship to date.
Sprouts will serve as the team’s exclusive back-of-kit sponsor, with the company’s logo featured on lower portion of the club’s official jerseys and merchandise. DoorDash’s branding will sit on the front of the team’s jerseys, while Birdies will adorn the sleeves. The deal marks Sprouts’ first commitment to women’s professional soccer, as was the case with both Birdies and DoorDash.
Jessica Smith, head of Angel City’s corporate partnerships, said that with the addition of Sprouts, the club has sold out its official jersey sponsor opportunities. Angel City is still looking for a sponsor for its practice jerseys, but Smith said the franchise is already on par with what it hoped to bring in financially from its kit sponsorships, which are “a really significant part of our business model.”
The club was able to secure such lucrative deals, at least in part, by basing its deal assessments on new data and research on the value of their prospective fans.
“What happens in the industry is people say a deal is worth $500,000 because that’s what people have historically paid before, and that’s not a fair way to assess them,” Smith explained. “So we did a full evaluation with Endeavor Analytics and looked at our value as not just TV ratings or our social following. Now, because the industry’s changed, our value is also the social following of all of our players; it’s a social following of all of our owners. That value is really high.”
Similar efforts are underway elsewhere in the industry; the Sports Innovation Lab’s Fan Project is gathering a comprehensive picture of the female sports fan for advertisers and potential investors.
High-value deals like Sprouts, Birdies and DoorDash are just the start for Angel City, Smith says. The trio of jersey partners join founding sponsors Heineken and Therabody, two of what the club hopes will be between six and 10 top-tier partners to sign on before the team makes its debut in the spring of 2022. Several should come to fruition this year, before the company turns its attention to the local market, where it hopes for as many as 20 additional partners, though Smith emphasizes that those numbers are fluid.
While Sprouts is the club’s first partner headquartered outside of Angel City’s home state, the Phoenix-based company does have a large presence in California with more than 70 stores in the Los Angeles area alone. Founded in 2002, Sprouts currently operates more than 360 stores in 23 states nationwide.
“A lot of times in sponsorship you’ll see category approach: finance, healthcare and so on,” Smith said in a phone interview. “We more look for alignment with companies that we could make a great impact with and that would speak to our fan base. Sprouts, not only with their L.A. significance but with the work that they already do in the community, seemed like a really incredible partnership opportunity.”
Angel City’s sponsorship model redirects 10% of the value of any deal to local causes, done in collaboration with each partner. Sprouts and ACFC will re-allocate a portion of their sponsorship to local causes that address children’s nutrition education and fresh food access throughout Los Angeles.
The community element will kick off this month, when ACFC and Sprouts partner to refresh a school garden site at Arroyo Seco Museum Science Magnet alongside EnrichLA, a community wellness nonprofit focused on building edible gardens at local schools. DoorDash committed to donate more than $1 million to address food insecurity in Southern California over the life of its deal and to bring 250,000 meals to people in need in year one. Birdies and Angel City will develop a mentorship and leadership program for young girls throughout Los Angeles.
(This story has corrected the number of Sprouts stores to ‘more than 360’ in the ninth paragraph.)