When Volkswagen plants roots in a community, the German car manufacturer often does so through soccer. Chattanooga is no different.
Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations has signed on as the title sponsor for the Chattanooga Football Club, a second-year amateur soccer team that plays in the National Premier Soccer League.
"We are supporting soccer worldwide - we do it in Germany, South Africa, we do it in the States with D.C. United," said Guenther Scherelis, VW's general manager of communications in Chattanooga. "Soccer's about team spirit, about passionate performance and that's the same as what you need in producing cars.
"Chattanooga FC is the top team here and it's natural that we would team up with them. Now as the season starts, we're all eager to see how they play and perform."
Chattanooga FC opened its season Saturday with a 1-0 road win over Atlanta FC. This Saturday, the club will make its home debut against the Under-23 from Fútbol Club Atlas, of Guadalajara, Mexico.
As the title sponsor, Volkswagen's "VW" logo will be prominently displayed on the chest of CFC's jersey, and it will be the only sponsor logo on the jersey. The logo will also be displayed around Finley Stadium and at other CFC functions, such as clinics.
The terms of the sponsorship were not disclosed, but according to the sponsorship guide on CFC's Web site, the starting price to be the title sponsor is $25,000.
Chattanooga FC co-founder Krue Brock said Volkswagen's a natural fit for the club.
"They really get soccer at a whole other level as a company," Brock said.
The revenue from Volkswagen's sponsorship exceeds CFC's entire sponsor revenue from last season, and Brock said having a title sponsor "really allows us to not have to worry about a lot of those costs that sometimes inhibit you from making the right decisions."
Volkswagen has been heavily invested in soccer for many years. It owns the VFL Wolfsburg football club in Wolfsburg, Germany. In the U.S., Volkswagen is the official automotive sponsor of Major League Soccer and is the title sponsor of D.C. United of Major League Soccer.
The Wolfsburg team started out as a club team for Volkswagen employees and grew into a professional squad - a squad that won the Bundesliga (the top German league) last year.
"I've just always liked that story," Brock said. "I've always liked the thought of starting something simple and organic, and who knows what it can grow into."
Brock said he'd love to one day see Wolfsburg or D.C. United play at Finley. Scherelis said there have been talks with both clubs, but nothing has been planned.