Recent reports have indicated that the Chicago Fire will be losing their shirt sponsor at the end of the season. Paint company Valspar have had their logo on the front of Fire kits since the beginning of last season, but have decided to end the agreement early. This is reportedly due to a decision by new parent company Sherwin Williams to scale back Valspar’s sports sponsorships. The Fire are now on the lookout for a new shirt sponsor ahead of the 2019 season.
We at Hot Time have a few suggestions.
This one’s a personal choice, as I adored Best Buy as a young kid. An avid gamer with a store location a couple of blocks away, I made a countless amount of gaming related purchases at the nearby Best Buy. When they became the Fire’s jersey sponsor ahead of the 2008 season, I was ecstatic. That feeling quickly faded once designs of the kits came out— the Best Buy logo was way too prominent, and needed to be surrounded by a big block on the front of the jersey. It’s been a long time since then and there could be a chance this old relationship can be rekindled. The Fire front office might be tempted to call back an old ex, and see if they want to give this whole thing another shot.
This might just be the immature teenager in me, but it would be quite a sight to see the Squirt logo plastered on the front of the Chicago Fire jerseys next year. The club and company have formed a relationship, as Squirt is (or at least was at one point) the official soft drink of the Men In Red. Adidas will have the tough task of incorporating the sodas green and yellow logo on a red Fire kit in a way that looks good. If they can get the job done, then there’s a good chance a lot of people with the same mindset will buy a jersey only because it has the word “squirt” plastered all over the front of it.
Chicagoans love Portillo’s. The food joint is one of the most popular in the city. Their hot dogs are iconic, and their Italian beef sandwiches are top notch. The Fire could capitalize on the restaurant’s good name and get them to sponsor the team’s jerseys for next year. An agreement with Portillo’s opens up a number of possibilities, not least of which are branded hot dog stands at Toyota Park.
The food company already sponsors the team’s Man Of the Match Award, endearing themselves to fans. The “Krakus Ham of the Match” has been an award every Fire player covets. Other teams are probably jealous that their MOTM award isn’t as cool as Chicago’s. The Krakus logo would look odd on a Fire kit, with its white text on a oddly shaped blue scroll, but beggars can’t be choosers at this point. If anything, the Fire could just put a picture of a ham sandwich on the front, because why not.
Haunted Trails Family Entertainment Center
Who doesn’t love this place? Haunted Trails is located right by the stadium, with plenty of fans driving past when heading to Toyota Park. Kids love Haunted Trails; it has everything from mini golf, to arcade games, and even Go Karts. The length of the name might be difficult to fit on the front of a jersey, but the white block on the front of the Fire kit leaves plenty of room to operate. Haunted Trails could host the meet the team event, like Enchanted Castle did in the past. I know I would enjoy the opportunity to race against Aleksandar Katai, or beat Nemanja Nikolic in a game of putt-putt. Get it done, please.
If all else fails, the Fire do have a backup plan thanks to new minority owner Joe Mansueto. The billionaire made his money after founding Morningstar, an investment research company. If the Chicago front office are unable to convince anyone else to be the club’s sponsor, Mansueto can just have his company’s name on the front of the shirt. The wordmark wouldn’t even look bad, and fit with the shirt’s color scheme. It’s win-win for both sides— the Fire get a sponsor, while Mansueto’s company gets some extra exposure.
With a majority of teams in the world having some sort of advertisement on the front of their kits nowadays, seeing a team rock a jersey without a sponsor has become something of a novelty. AS Roma are a prominent example. The Houston Dynamo are the lone MLS side without a logo on their kits.
There are benefits to these clubs who chose to not have any product placement on their gear. The shirts usually have a much cleaner look when they don’t have to shoehorn a corporate logo. The 2018 Chicago Red Stars shirt is an excellent example. Barcelona shirts prior to 2006 also spring to mind.
Unfortunately this is a very unlikely scenario for the Men In Red in 2019. With the club so bent on antagonizing their most loyal supporters, they can’t afford to turn away too many opportunities for revenue.