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Providence will be Sounders’ new shirt sponsor

Health provider partners with Sounders to increase access to youth mental health care.

Max Aquino/Sounder at Heart

Renton-based Providence Medical Group was unveiled as the Seattle Sounders' new shirt sponsor on Friday, replacing Zulily, who had been in that space for the past four seasons. Providence is the Sounders’ third-ever shirt sponsor as the team enters its 15th MLS season.

Multiple sources indicated that this is the single biggest sponsorship the Sounders have ever sold. XBox reportedly paid about $5 million a year from 2009-2018 for a sponsorship suite that included the shirt, the field and a few other elements. Zulily took over the shirt naming rights from 2019-2022 and reportedly paid more than XBox while being displayed in fewer places.

The sponsorship was presented as more of a “community partnership” that promises to be “a dynamic agreement, centered upon driving meaningful impact in the area of youth mental health and wellness,” according to the press release. The announcement was made during a schoolwide assembly at Renton High School at which they unveiled an initiative to “develop, implement and provide support for a variety of programming and services focused on concrete ways to improve mental health for students.”

The Sounders, who are preparing to move their headquarters to Renton’s Longacres property, also said this partnership would be a “long-term commitment to the community.”

Providence is one of the largest healthcare providers in the country with 51 hospitals and more than 800 non-acute facilities with a heavy concentration in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and California. That includes eight hospitals and 2,200 providers in Western Washington. Although there are no Providence-branded hospitals in Seattle, they have been affiliated with Swedish since 2012 and have operated under the unified brand of Providence Swedish since March 2022. Providers from Providence Swedish will now serve as the team doctors.

According to a 2022 announcement detailing their updated local branding, the two organizations technically continue to operate as separate employers and provide different forms of care. Providence is faith-based, while Swedish remains secular. Those differentiators do lead to different models of coverage and have led to some controversies, especially around women’s reproductive health and gender-affirming care. A 2022 report in the New York Times also detailed how Providence has billed low-income individuals for services that they were entitled to receive for free.

Providence also has naming rights of the Portland Timbers’ home stadium.

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