The Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Seattle's minor league soccer team has made the jump to MLS for the 2009 season and has secured Microsoft and their Xbox 360 Live gaming service as their primary sponsor (5 years, 20 million dollars) and, as customary with major football clubs around the world, the sponsor's logo is more prominently featured on the jersey than that of the team.

Microsoft had previously not been known for doing much in the way of sports sponsorship. But the corporation found what it felt to be an ideal situation in attaching itself to the fledgling Sounders, with soccer growing in participation
locally and nationally.

"When we looked at soccer and what's happening in the sport, and then we looked at what was happening with youth and how powerful the growth is there," Bach said, "this is an opportunity to be in really close to the ground floor, and certainly the ground floor with the Sounders."

Bach said many Microsoft employees are soccer fans, and they will become passionate Sounders FC fans. The company has plans to be involved in developing the team's community initiatives. The partnership doesn't end with Seattle. Xbox 360 will be recognized as the official and exclusive video-game console of MLS and receives MLS players appearances, league Web site presence and in-stadium exposure, among other benefits.

The "Sounders FC" is off to a good start. Drew Carey, a minority owner, has become a likable voice of the team; season ticket holders get to vote on whether or not to fire the General Manager each season; the team will have a marching band; and they have videogame sponsorship.

What's not to love, other than the fact that it's still soccer?

Read all about Microsoft's sponsorship of the Sounders FC and the aforementioned "Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field" in the Seattle Times.

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