Update to story June 10, 2011:
Upon seeing the final product at the stadium’s inaugural match last night, I wanted to provide an update to those interested in the Google signage at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. I was very curious to see how they would handle this after seeing pictures of the sign covered up shortly after my tour of the stadium and the release of this story. Sure enough, the signage appears to be a thank you to Google for selecting Kansas City as the first host of Google Fiber and the positive implications that will have on the club once the technology is implemented. What is interesting though, is the “THANK YOU” appears to be written with well-placed pieces of electrical tape, and not part of the original sign. My guess is somebody mistakenly portrayed the appearance of a partnership with Google, the sign was temporarily covered, and then the “THANK YOU” was added as a compromise. Compare for yourself in the pictures to the right (click to enlarge) and read the original story below.
Original story posted May 24, 2011:
At a current market cap of $167 Billion, Google doesn’t exactly need help advertising their brand. It is not surprising then, that Google has been absent from the sports sponsorship scene since they went public in 2004. All that changed tonight, however, when Sporting KC unveiled LIVESTRONG Sporting Park to its season ticket members for the first time, and with it, Google’s first foray into sports sponsorship.
Earlier this month, we provided a digital sneak peak of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, but it was quite unexpected to see the Google logo (positioned in line with a Budweiser ad, no less) next to the stadium’s flagship HD videoboard (pictured above). I attempted to Google (no pun intended) any previous Google sports sponsorship examples, and could not find a single story or image. If you work for a team partnering with Google or are a fan that remembers seeing Google signage, please correct me in the comments section below.
This sponsorship between Google and Sporting Club makes a lot of sense, and the implications for Sporting KC’s online sports marketing efforts are huge. In March, Google announced the selection of Kansas City, Kansas as the pilot city for their new ultra-fast broadband network. Once it’s deployed, the technology will allow Kansas Citians to interact with the Internet at speeds of 1 gigabit per second, or around 100 times faster than what’s available today.
Robb Heineman, Sporting Club’s CEO, was quoted in the KC Business Journal as saying “Google fiber will allow Sporting KC to offer unprecedented video content such as live, in-game editing of video clips and maybe even provide 3-D video direct to handsets. They can also provide fans with services such as mobile payment, Check-in and other applications.”
Heineman obviously has a relationship with Google that runs beyond him just being the luckiest CEO in America for having his team’s neighborhood selected as the host for the best technology to come along since, well, the Internet itself. This is evidenced by his inclusion in the Google Fiber announcement, where he is pictured along the likes of Kansas City, Kansas Mayor, Joe Reardon.
I should note that there is no word on whether or not this Google signage was simply a complimentary thank you from Sporting Club, which very well could be the case. It occurs to me that if Google wanted to seriously dive into sports sponsorship, they have the resources and the technology to really devalue every other brand’s partnership with a team by minimizing the impact of their competition’s inventory.
What do you think of this partnership? Is it actually Google’s first? Is it potentially the best in all of sports?