The Seattle Sounders are set to launch their latest away jersey on Thursday. When they do, they’ll have some distinctly Northwest flair on their sleeves.
The Sounders introduced the Puyallup Tribe as the Official Casino and Entertainment Partner of the team in a multi-year partnership on Tuesday. Highlighting the partnership, the team’s primary kit will feature the EQC logo, while the secondary kit sleeve will showcase the Puyallup Tribe’s official emblem, “a nod to the tribe’s impactful Coast Salish traditions,” according to a release from the team. The partnership will continue through 2027.
While the terms of the agreement were not made public, it is believed to be worth at least $1 million a year. This replaces the WaFd sleeve sponsorship the Sounders announced last July.
Emerald Queen Casino is owned and operated by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Originally a riverboat at the Port of Tacoma Waterway, Emerald Queen Casino & Hotel expanded into two sprawling casino properties in Fife and Tacoma. The Tacoma facility opened in summer 2020 at an estimated cost of $400 million.
“Sounders FC is proud to deepen the club’s relationship with the Puyallup Tribe and its Emerald Queen Casino, and we are honored to have both in our club’s family of partners,” said Sounders FC President of Business Operations Peter Tomozawa in a release. “The Puyallup people have been an integral part of the Puget Sound region since the very beginning, and as a leading Coast Salish tribe, their proud history and dedication to the area continues to this day.”
The Puyallup Tribe hardly needs an introduction to local fans, having played a pivotal role in Western Washington’s development. In the Lushootseed language, the Puyallup Tribe’s name translates to “the people from the bend at the bottom of the river.” The Puyallups have more than 5,000 active members. A release provided by the team notes the Puyallups play a major role in both the local and regional economy, as the Tribe and its subsidiaries generate nearly $700 million in revenue each year and serve collectively as the fifth-largest employer in Pierce County.
For the Sounders, the partnership will provide an additional financial boost to the club, especially important given the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic. The Sounders are set to welcome fans back to Lumen Field for games this April, but attendance will be far below the customary 38,000 the team is used to seeing.
In 2018, the league announced that teams could begin selling sponsored sleeve patches on team uniforms. The initiative was a four-year pilot program, and available only to those clubs that had already secured a primary jersey sponsor.
Previous estimates put sleeve partnership revenues at between $500,000 and $1 million annually. A source with knowledge of this deal placed the total value of the partnership at the highest end of that range.
“We are thrilled that Emerald Queen Casino is now Sounders FC’s Official Casino and Entertainment Partner,” said Frank Wright, Emerald Queen Casino General Manager in a release. “One of our most important cultural principles as a tribe is that of being welcoming and inclusive, and we know that the Sounders also live this belief. We’re looking forward to utilizing EQC’s new relationship with the team to deepen our roots within sports entertainment, strengthening soccer across the region and creating opportunities to give back.”
Additionally, Sounders FC’s charitable arm, RAVE Foundation, will work with the Tribe on initiatives, including to provide underserved communities in the area with mini-pitch courts and provide safe recreational outdoor areas for kids to play.