First It Was Stadiums, Now It’s The Actual Team

The Austrian company that makes and markets Red Bull has purchased Major League Soccer’s Metro Stars.
The New York Times provides some background on the deal.

Red Bull, which has its North American headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., bought the SV Wüstenrot Salzburg club last year and renamed it SV Red Bull Salzburg. After a change of management and an infusion of money, the once-struggling team is now in second place in Austria’s first division. (Red Bull also sponsors a racing team that will begin competing in Nascar next year.)
The MetroStars are operated by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which also runs four other M.L.S. teams (D.C. United, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles). In the past few years, M.L.S. officials said one of their goals was to reduce A.E.G.’s holdings to a single team. The MetroStars remain one of the league’s worst teams, having never played for the championship as the league prepares for the start of its 11th season. In addition, while other league teams have succeeded in persuading local governments to help finance their projects, the MetroStars have struggled to build a soccer stadium in Harrison, N.J.
The MetroStars Red Bulls open the season at D.C. United on April 2.

Adfreak’ s Tim Nudd does not like the idea of a team named the New York Red Bulls. “It’s asinine,” he said.
But is it? Aren’t sports steams just entertainment brands owned by corporations primarly interested in revenue?

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Well, at their core, of course sports teams are just entertainement-based businesses. But to any real fan of a particular team, it’s a whole lot more than that. (I’m a Red Sox fan, so don’t get me started.) Teams rely on the passion of hard core fans to drive their business. I mean, who else would buy a 1-foot square piece of Fenway Park turf for $500? Passion, loyalty, and in some cases multi-generational love all explain what a fan feels for his or her team. To rename one of those teams after a energy drink sucks and blows at the same time. It’s one thing to name a stadium after a corporation, quite another the team that plays in it. The day the Red Sox become the Red Bulls is the day most fans abandon all hope, not to mention all team-related merchandise.

  2. I agree, Bob. I’m merely saying it’s all an illusion, unless the town actually owns the team, as is the case in Green Bay.
    To me, this is why college and high school team sports are more interesting.

  3. I think it’s all about maintaining that illusion. Which is hard to do if the corporate product = the team name. (In the case of the New York Red Bulls, from what I understand, the uniforms are going to be redone in Red Bull’s colors too – so the players may even look like Red Bull cans.) I probably overstated the dangers of the precedent though. It’s hard to imagine a team with any real history, like the Red Sox, being able to pull a stunt like this on their fans.