Stone Brewing’s gargoyle iconography turns up with great frequency, be it sports and racing-team vehicles, fighter jets and military graphics or countless beer-nut tattoos. To date, such usage has been initiated by parties appreciative of the 23-year-old Escondido company’s aesthetic and, in many cases, its beer; imagery courteously loaned free-of-charge to appreciative parties. Stone CEO Greg Koch has famously vowed to never pay for advertising or enter into paid sponsorships, but the arrival of a new pro-sports faction in America’s Finest City has softened that stance. As announced last week, Stone has entered into an official sponsorship with the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club.
Last Thursday, the new United Soccer League team held an event at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station to unveil Stone’s status as SD Loyal’s inaugural kit partner for the 2020 season. As part of the festivities, the club’s ownership and players were introduced. The latter were clad in uniforms matching the team’s orange and “Torrey green” logo. Front and center on the players’ jerseys is Stone’s wordmark, along with the logo of fellow kit organization, Rady Children’s Hospital.
“We are thrilled to partner with one of San Diego and the nation’s most iconic craft beer brands,” said SD Loyal president Warren Smith. “Just as Stone was built one beer at a time here in San Diego, we’re building this club one fan at a time. In soccer, we wear our crests on our hearts, and we are proud to wear Stone Brewing across our chests.”
Echoing Smith’s sentiments is Stone co-founder and longtime fútbol fan Steve Wagner. “This is really something special and out of the ordinary for Stone Brewing. SD Loyal has proven to us that they’re committed to embracing San Diego’s values as their own, and that includes a commitment to local craft beer. We’re putting our name on the chest of this team because we believe in their potential to positively impact the culture of our city, something craft brewers have been doing for the past 30 years.”
The SD Loyal is the newest member of the USL Championship, a United States Soccer Federation-sanctioned Division II league. The team will play its home matches at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium. The team will play a friendly against Costa del Este Football Club (FC) on Saturday, February 22, and their season will officially kick-off at home versus Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday, March 7.
“This partnership allows us to create a unique and ongoing experience for our SoCal fans around Stone beers and those in our Stone Distributing Co. (SDC) portfolio. It’s something new for fans to rally around and we firmly believe that the community soccer creates will be a win for this city, especially when partnered with craft beer,” says the company’s senior PR manager Lizzie Younkin. “Team Stone is excited, too. For many, two of their passions have collided, and we’re really proud to wear the jerseys and cheer for SD Loyal.”
In addition to visibility for Stone, this partnership will equate to increased brand awareness and consumption of SDC’s distribution partners. All of the craft beer sold at SD Loyal games will be from SDC’s portfolio, which includes local companies such as AleSmith Brewing, Modern Times Beer, Pizza Port Brewing and Thorn Brewing plus out-of-town interests, including Avery Brewing, Beachwood Brewing, Maui Brewing and Russian River Brewing.