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Incheon United sets Korean first with stadium sponsor search

K League 1 football club Incheon United is seeking to set a first for the South Korean sports industry by launching a tender process to secure a naming rights sponsor for its stadium.

The club has engaged the Deloitte Anjin professional services group to conduct the process, with bids being accepted through to February 1. While DGB Daegu Bank Park became the first K League stadium to sign a naming rights sponsor back in February 2019, United’s search is the first to be conducted through an open bidding process.

Incheon Football Stadium opened in March 2012 and has a capacity of around 20,890. United is a so-called ‘community club’, with the Incheon Government being its main shareholder. However, United operates the stadium and has a relationship with the city to monetise it which allows for the pursuit of a naming rights deal.

Park Nam-Chun, Mayor of Incheon, said: “I think the right to use the stadium name is a marketing plan that can positively affect all stakeholders, including the city, fans, and participating companies, as well as the club.

“It has the potential to become a landmark of Incheon when it does (happen), so if companies participate through the right to use the name, it will be possible to create synergy. We look forward to the participation of companies that are connected with Incheon or have business plans.”

In order to make the contract more attractive to sponsors, the club has also incorporated naming rights to a nearby subway station and a new club house, which is scheduled for completion in 2022. The open bidding method represents a first not just for the K League, but for professional sports as a whole in South Korea.

An Incheon United official said: “The stadium naming partner will be able to expect a wide range of exposure effects through various media such as TV, online, social media, and print media, as well as in the stadium itself.

“Furthermore, it (the sponsorship) will be the cornerstone of a virtuous cycle for the development of the club, such as improving athletic performance, creating a training environment centred on players, fostering youth, and increasing the fan experience.”

Image: Incheon United