EA signs on as Whitecaps sponsor

Electronic Arts vice president Matt Bilbey and Whitecaps CEO Paul Barber announced a new...

Electronic Arts vice president Matt Bilbey and Whitecaps CEO Paul Barber announced a new sponsorship agreement Monday for the Caps' inaugural MLS season next year. (CARMINE MARINELLI, QMI AGENCY)

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:04 PM ET

Video game giant EA Sports joined Bell telecom and the Bank of Montreal on Monday as a sponsor of the Major League Soccer-bound Vancouver Whitecaps.

The deal enables EA to use Whitecaps players, fans and B.C. Place Stadium for game content, beginning with FIFA 2012.

Vice-president and general manager Matt Bilbey said EA accounts for five to 10 per cent of Whitecaps’ ticketholders.

“We’ve got 1,200 people in the studio who are passionate soccer fans. Our FIFA team is made up of 18 different nationalities. They speak over 40 different languages,” he said.

The company’s sprawling studio – which includes a soccer field – is headquarters of the best-selling FIFA soccer video game line. The Redwood Shores, Calif., company also sponsors England’s Chelsea and Arsenal and Spain’s Real Madrid.

Microsoft’s Xbox sponsors both the Seattle Sounders’ jerseys and pitch. Bilbey said it was “unlikely” EA would buy naming rights to B.C. Place Stadium.

The partners are a Burnaby-born successes. The current Whitecaps began playing in 1987 as the Canadian Soccer League 86ers at Swangard Stadium and will join the MLS in 2011. EA Canada was originally known in 1982 as Distinctive Software before ownership and name changes.

The Whitecaps also opened a retail store at Burnaby’s Metropolis Friday and train on Burnaby Mountain and at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex. The team's chief executive, Paul Barber, admitted Burnaby was being eyed as a site for a club-owned training centre.


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