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Toronto FC hopes new jerseys will please fans
TORONTO - Toronto FC unveiled its new jerseys Friday, adding some more gloss to a team that local soccer fans have already taken a mighty shine to.
The expansion MLS club will wear red at home and grey on the road. In soccer style, Toronto FC players will serve as human billboards -- the jerseys are emblazoned with the letters BMO and the logo of sponsor Bank of Montreal across the chest. The home ensemble will be red shirt, grey shorts and red socks. Away, it will be grey shirt, red shorts, grey socks.
The red jerseys come with swirling trim of white, grey and dark onyx (a shade of grey) while the road shirts are adorned with white, red and dark onyx trim.
While having a shirt sponsor has long been standard procedure in the soccer world, this is the first season that MLS has allowed such sponsorship.
Real Salt Lake's shirt sponsor this season will be XanGo Juice while the Los Angeles Galaxy's is Herbalife, a weight loss system.
Other teams have yet to announce their sponsor.
"This is nice incremental money to us," said Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
"We had a lot of companies interested," he added.
The club's five-year shirt deal with the Bank of Montreal is separate from the bank's other sponsorship deals with the club and stadium.
"It makes a close relationship closer," said Peddie, who declined to detail the short sponsorship deal other than to say "it's not insignificant."
In North America, the CFL has some advertising patches on its jerseys. And Peddie's American Hockey League Marlies uniforms have a McDonald's crest.
"In our world of NHL and NBA, it's extraordinary but in the world of soccer, it's pretty ordinary," Tom Anselmi, MLSE's chief operating officer, said of the shirt advertising.
Injured midfielder Mo Edu modelled the new kit on a downtown sidewalk.
"I like it a lot actually," said Edu, who judging from the bling attached to his ears knows a little about styling.
"I like the colour scheme, I like the whole layout. I think it's a good jersey."
The Toronto team is already a hit at the box office, with team officials capping season tickets sales at 14,000 at the new 20,000 BMO Field.
That means the club has already met its sales target for tickets before it has even put on sale single tickets or mini-packs.
"We think we have a really good shot at selling out every game," said Peddie.
Still the team has a way to go to pay off some debts. Peddie says the team spent C$18 million on the stadium and US$10 for the MLS franchise fee, although stadium naming rights have helped reduce that red ink.
"So it'll be a while to get that back, but when you calculate return on investment and since we're exceeding our expectations in Year 1, it looks very good," said Peddie.
Toronto FC opens its season April 7 on the road against Chivas USA in California. The first home game is April 28 against the Kansas City Wizards.
The club jerseys are expected to hit stores in late April.