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2011 Chicago MLS jerseys more likely to say FIRE than Best Buy

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I've been meaning to write about how 'The Business of Sports' writer Ed Sherman of Crain's Chicago Business rarely writes about the Chicago Fire.  To my knowledge, he still hasn't done a profile on new Fire President Julian Posada while his space sometimes reads like a Tom Ricketts tabloid.  The Cubs are more popular, Tom's father Joseph Ricketts was in Forbes 400 Richest Americans in 2009, and this is Crain's Chicago Business but come on here.  Sherman wrote about the idea of a second NBA team in Chicago this week.  How about writing about a Chicago team that actually exists instead? 

Well today, I got my wish all be it in the form of possibly bad news.  From the depths of Best Buy HQs to Ed Sherman to Hot Time In Old Town to your eyes, Best Buy says:

As part of our marketing planning process, we regularly evaluate our sponsorships and explore and assess marketing opportunities to ensure they align with our evolving business goals. While Best Buy’s sponsorship relationship with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club has delivered tremendous value and has created awareness and visibility for our family of brands, we’ve elected to not renew our contract, which expires at the end of December. It has been an honor to work with this world-class organization over the last three years, and we intend to continue to offer our enthusiastic support of the Fire.

Sherman also reports that the Fire anticipated this decision.  That might be negotiation positioning on the Fire's part but my guess is Best Buy got a great deal a couple of the years ago and they were not ready to match the Fire's new asking price or they are just playing hardball.  Major League Soccer's profile has significantly risen in the past couple of years as new expansion teams have brought each MLS team into new TV markets.  The fresh blood of the new teams and some people at the front office finally figuring out the right formula for marketing soccer in this country has re-energized the league.  The Fire's presence itself has exploded across town and the social media profile goes up everyday.  For example the Fire had around 18,000 Facebook fans in August but count almost 29,000 today (BTW, that number was just 26,000 last Friday). 

I would like to see Best Buy continue to be the sponsor if only because they always seemed like more than just 'a check'.  They hosted team events around town, had reps at different venues and were just all around supportive.  If the Fire can get another sponsor like that and improve the price of the sponsorship, all the better.  The ticket sales staff and the communications team have been doing a great job and this is the 3rd largest TV market in America.  I'd love to see the new sponsor come from Chicago but this is a golden opportunity for anyone looking to expand their brand in the soccer community worldwide as the MLS and the Chicago Fire continue to rise.  Happy hunting.