Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Manhattan Beach, Calif., on Friday unveiled the launch of a comprehensive marketing partnership with Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy and the team’s home stadium, StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

The parties said the multi-year agreement, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, strategically aligns the brands and establishes Kinecta as the exclusive financial services partner of the LA Galaxy – five-time MLS Cup champions – and StubHub Center. The credit union also will serve as a Founding Partner of StubHub Center and the first-ever naming rights partner of the LA Galaxy’s Torrance, Calif.-based indoor soccer and recreational facility.

The partnership is Kinecta’s first sports-related sponsorship. The $4.3 billion CU said the deal will provide LA Galaxy fans with “enhanced community engagement opportunities, one-of-a-kind special events and youth outreach initiatives that support the growth of soccer while increasing financial literacy.”

Pre-game festivities at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., home of Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy. The Galaxy and Kinecta Federal Credit Union have entered into a marketing partnership together, the first sponsorship of that kind for the credit union.
Pre-game festivities at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., home of Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy. The Galaxy and Kinecta Federal Credit Union have entered into a marketing partnership together, the first sponsorship of that kind for the credit union. Photo courtesy of AEG Facilities/LA Galaxy

The naming rights agreement for the newly named Kinecta Soccer Center, Powered by the LA Galaxy, is a “major keystone” of the agreement, the credit union said. The new center is designed to provide local residents with year-round access to futsal, a typically indoor, modified version of soccer, and high-quality sports programming. The 73,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility features five indoor futsal fields, two turf fields, three volleyball courts, a training center and numerous other recreational amenities for guests to enjoy.

Kinecta Soccer Center, Powered by the LA Galaxy is scheduled to host a number of family-friendly events, including tournaments, kid camps and more. The CU said the training facility, which is home to several youth and adult futsal leagues, has a history of making an impact on the community and helping grow the next generation of soccer fans and players.

“Continuing in this tradition, Kinecta and the LA Galaxy will use the venue to bring players and fans together around the pitch and support the accessibility of soccer across Los Angeles,” Kinecta said in a statement.

“We are proud to lend our name and support to such a great community asset,” said Keith Sultemeier, Kinecta’s president and CEO. “Effort, teamwork and healthy choices are valuable lessons and clearly enhanced by participation in sports. The partnership with AEG and the LA Galaxy is consistent with our commitment to the communities of the South Bay and greater Los Angeles that we have faithfully served for over 75 years.”

Shannon Doiron, first vice president of marketing at Kinecta, told Credit Union Journal Kinecta in recent years has been “shopping” sponsorship opportunities.

“We were focused on [American] football, but the further we got in negotiations we realized that Kinecta would not have the presence we were hoping for with the noise of all the other brands, including financial, within the stadium,” Doiron said. “Our CEO, Keith Sultemeier, is active in youth soccer and attended an event at StubHub and liked the ‘bigger fish, smaller sea’ concept that the relationship could bring.”

That’s a strategy that has worked for a number of credit unions who have undertaken similar partnerships with Major League Soccer franchises. Among other CUs to have partnered with MLS sides are Mazuma CU and Sporting Kansas City, TruMark Financial and Philadelphia Union, Westerra CU and Colorado Rapids and more.

And Kinecta’s timing could hardly have been better. Just last week, the team made international headlines after Swedish midfielder Zlatan Ibrahimović announced he was leaving Manchester United in the English Premier League to sign for LA Galaxy – one of the biggest names to arrive in Major League Soccer in years.

Asked if the Galaxy's signing of Zlatan Ibrahimović played any role in the agreement, Kinecta’s Doiron acknowledged Ibrahimović “certainly is a big name” in the soccer world, and his coming to MLS should guarantee a sellout crowd for every Galaxy game this season.

“We did not have advance knowledge of this signing, however, we were ensured by the LA Galaxy that they were focused on developing an amazing team focused on a winning 2018 season,” Doiron said. “We did take into consideration the formation of the new [expansion team] LA Football Club and banked on the fact that having two LA teams would drive more interest in the sport overall. Having Zlatan sign on only reinforces that fact.”

Great expectations

After reaching out to the Galaxy and holding discussions about the partnership between the team and the credit union, Doiron said the management team at Kinecta began formulating a partnership that would benefit both organizations. “It just so happened that the Galaxy’s current retail banking partner was not extending its sponsorship, so we can now enjoy that exclusive relationship.”

Doiron said the parties are not disclosing specific terms or numbers, other than to say they have signed a multi-year agreement.

Kinecta has three “pillars” that it will focus on with this relationship: branding/mindshare, community involvement and membership activation.

“This agreement encompasses all three of those,” Doiron declared. “From a branding perspective, not only do we have signage throughout the StubHub center, we also have digital signage and placements on two major freeways and across several online platforms.”

The CU’s community approach likewise has “a lot of congruence” with the LA Galaxy and StubHub Center, Doiron continued. He said Kinecta is focusing its efforts on similar causes, as well as having the naming rights for what will be known as the Kinecta Soccer Center Powered by the LA Galaxy.

“This center is the hub of youth soccer throughout Southern California,” Doiron pointed out.

As for membership activation, Kinecta is working on several opportunities, including advertising across AEG’s AXS platform, which enables the CU to have exposure across several digital channels.

“In addition, we will leverage the hospitality and ticket opportunities to drive memberships as well,” Doiron said.

As covered by CU Journal, there was a recent legal fight between the Detroit Pistons and Michigan First Credit Union. Asked if that gave any pause before entering its sports sponsorship deal Doiron said it was “certainly something we kept an eye on.”

“But throughout the discussions and contracting we had several proof points that our relationship would be a win-win for all parties, especially our members and communities,” he said.

“Joining forces with Kinecta is a fantastic opportunity for AEG to add value and bring new forms of engagement and soccer enjoyment to our LA Galaxy fans at StubHub Center,” said Robert Vartan, senior director Global Partnerships at AEG. “Equally important, our partnership with a best-in-class brand such as Kinecta will accelerate our respective and extensive efforts to give back and make a positive impact on the communities we both serve.”

Youth financial literacy program

Established in 1940, Kinecta has grown to be one of the nation’s largest credit unions, with more than 293,000 member-owners. With sports being a major part of the Southern California lifestyle, the CU said the partnership with the LA Galaxy provides a “significant opportunity” to introduce fans to Kinecta’s financial service offerings, while enhancing the brand’s connection to soccer fans.

“Using soccer as a passion point, the partnership will help Kinecta connect with its target audiences and strengthen its ties to the vibrant sports community across Southern California,” the CU said.

The partnership also provides Kinecta and the LA Galaxy with enhanced resources to deliver “new and impactful” youth outreach initiatives, the two parties said. At the forefront of these efforts, Kinecta and the team will join forces to launch a youth financial literacy program for the Galaxy’s high school academy team.

Kinecta said it will create custom content for a financial seminar series designed to enhance the financial well-being of the club’s student players. The content, part of which will be filmed and delivered by mentors, will aim to help students build long-term healthy financial habits, which they can use to enrich their lives. Through this collaboration, Kinecta said it will expand the reach of its financial education initiatives and build upon its tradition of grassroots community involvement and youth advocacy.

“Our partnership with the LA Galaxy and StubHub Center is the perfect opportunity to help strengthen the Kinecta brand and also reinforce our shared commitment to our local communities," said Doiron. “We look forward to the myriad of opportunities this relationship brings to our members and the communities we serve.”

Kinecta, the Galaxy and StubHub Center said they will bring fans closer to the game through a number of in-market promotions, game-day activations and Galaxy-themed community events. Kinecta will use its network of 23 branches in the South Bay and surrounding cities throughout Southern California to host a variety of soccer-themed community engagements, including one-of-a-kind promotions and exclusive appearances by LA Galaxy players and Star Squad members.

The credit union will have the opportunity to team up with the club on a jersey distribution event for the LA Galaxy’s youth alliance club players. The LA Galaxy’s Alliance Club Program is a soccer development initiative for youth clubs, which gives its members resources to reach their soccer and community potential. Key game-day opportunities include title sponsorship of the LA Galaxy’s Aug. 11 home game against Minnesota United FC. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to experience Kinecta up close via in-stadium activations and a special on-field promotion during halftime.

In addition, the partnership includes enhanced brand presence for Kinecta at StubHub Center. As a founding partner of the venue, Kinecta will receive a variety of signage and branding throughout the property, along with rotational exposure of the facility’s 405 and 91 Freeway marquees where other Founding Partners are recognized. Additionally, the LA Galaxy and Kinecta said they will plan and execute a variety of promotional content across both social and digital media platforms to maximize the impact of the partnership to the benefit of the fans. Game-goers will also have access to two Kinecta-branded ATMs at the stadium.