Sponsorship & Marketing

BMO lands LAFC stadium naming rights in MLS record deal

Featured image credit: LAFC

Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise LAFC has ended its search for a new stadium naming rights sponsor with Canadian financial services group BMO agreeing what is said to be a league-record deal.

Formerly Banc of California Stadium, effective from yesterday (Thursday) the Los Angeles venue has been rebranded BMO Stadium. Terms of the deal were not officially disclosed, but according to multiple reports it is worth $100m (£81m/€92.2m) over a 10-year term. The annual fee will reportedly make it the largest naming rights deal for a soccer-specific MLS stadium.

The partnership reinforces BMO’s commitment to growing the game of soccer across North America and supports the US expansion pillar of BMO’s North American growth strategy. BMO on Wednesday secured regulatory approval for a $16.3bn deal to acquire San Francisco-based Bank of the West, expanding its reach in the country to nine states.

BMO has over a decade of experience partnering with other MLS teams including Toronto FC, CF Montréal, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC in its home country. BMO in June agreed a 10-year extension to its stadium naming rights and shirt sponsorship deal with Toronto FC, while it is also the main shirt sponsor of CF Montréal.

BMO will be supporting fans of LAFC and the community throughout the season as the exclusive and official bank of the club. “BMO is thrilled to forge this partnership with LAFC, which reinforces our bank’s commitment to growing the game of soccer across North America,” said Cameron Fowler, chief strategy and operations officer at BMO.

“Through BMO Stadium, we will share our passion for soccer and commitment to the Los Angeles community while bringing to life our purpose, to ‘Boldly Grow the Good’ in business and life. We look forward to supporting LAFC and its fans this season and beyond.”

The stadium opened in 2018 with the debut of LAFC. It is also home to Angel City FC (ACFC), which made its debut in the women’s NWSL last season. ACFC led the NWSL in attendance in 2022, averaging more than 19,000 fans per game for its inaugural season. BMO will serve as a founding partner of the team.

BMO Stadium has a capacity of 22,000 fans for soccer matches and was the first open-air stadium built in Los Angeles since 1962. LAFC has been seeking a new naming rights partner for its stadium after announcing a restructuring of its deal with Banc of California back in May 2020.

The financial services group signed a 15-year deal worth a reported $100m in August 2016 to name the venue Banc of California Stadium. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank chose to pay $20.1m to exit the agreement, albeit with its brand still connected with the stadium as LAFC searched for a new sponsor.

“Our partnership with BMO unites two organisations that share a vision and commitment to be leaders and forces for good in our community,” said LAFC co-president and chief business officer, Larry Freedman.

“BMO Stadium is the premier outdoor arena in the heart of Los Angeles, having established itself as a world class sports and entertainment venue that hosts iconic concerts, events and top-level soccer. We are excited to begin our partnership with BMO, and to welcome our fans, supporters and the people of the city of Los Angeles to BMO Stadium.”

LAFC’s deal is the second naming rights agreement to be struck in MLS this week following Houston Dynamo’s partnership with Shell Energy.