GA: MARTA board OKs pending sponsorship deal with Atlanta United

April 1, 2024
MARTA Board members OK’d the details behind a deal that would be worth upwards of $586,000, including big-screen logos, special merchandise, promotion across the team’s social media and even a MARTA ticket package.

Atlanta’s soccer fans may soon notice MARTA logos on the big screens at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after the transit agency’s board approved the plans for a large-scale branding partnership with Atlanta United.

Board members OK’d the details behind a deal that would be worth upwards of $586,000, including big-screen logos, special merchandise, promotion across the team’s social media and even a MARTA ticket package.

Although approved by the MARTA board, the deal still has yet to be finalized between the agency and the soccer team in coming weeks. Atlanta United declined comment until then.

MARTA officials said the new alliance aims to increase visibility among potential riders who might not always choose public transit for events.

Since the team debuted in 2017, Atlanta United games have drawn about 5.5 million fans over seven seasons, according to the team.

“We can increase our brand visibility among soccer fans, and the broader Atlanta community, reinforcing our presence as a key player in the city’s transportation landscape,” said Chinnette Cannida, director of marketing for MARTA.

The deal would extend from this year through 2026. Either entity can opt out during the final year, officials said, as FIFA will likely play the primary role of determining sponsorship deals during the World Cup games hosted in Atlanta.

If the partnership is finalized, fans can expect flashes of MARTA’s multi-colored striped logo on both the 2,700-foot screen that wraps around the stadium and the 100-foot-tall “mega column” at the end of the field.

Atlanta United will also use one match to promote a special MARTA ticket deal that includes a co-branded t-shirt and a special edition Breeze card. Fans can purchase the exclusive merchandise — ranging from t-shirts, hats and even scarves — that will be sold at the stadium, Atlantic Station and online.

“We see this partnership as a major step towards establishing stronger connections with other local sports teams and event venues,” Cannida said. “It further allows us to forge a long-term collaborative relationship with Atlanta United as we all prepare for the World Cup in 2026.”

Another crucial element of the deal will be MARTA’s ability to use the likeness of four players on the team for promotional materials. The decision on exactly who will be made available by Atlanta United has yet to be determined, the transit agency said Thursday.

MARTA Board Vice Chair Jennifer Ide called the sponsorship deal “great exposure” for the public transportation system.

“I think everything (Cannida) said about Atlanta United pulling the city together is so true,” she said during the meeting. “This is one of those opportunities when people who may not otherwise ride MARTA do ride it regularly to the game.”

But efforts to increase MARTA ridership must also come alongside active steps to improve the system and prevent bottlenecks at stations located near large-scale events.

MARTA Board Member Jim Durrett pressed agency officials to be thoughtful about what increased ridership may mean for soccer fans.

“I think it’s really important that after the games, we do everything we can to have more frequent service so that people aren’t experiencing the sardine atmosphere or the inability to get on trains,” he said.

©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.