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Starting an unlikely yet successful partnership: Real estate and sports teams

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Sam McDadi was recently recognized by a stranger at the airport and congratulated for his new partnership with the Toronto Raptors.

Sam McDadi Real Estate Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario became the official real estate brokerage of the Raptors on November 1, a day sales representative and owner, McDadi, marked with a trip to Scotiabank Arena for the Raptors versus Milwaukee Bucks game. The arena was plastered with McDadi ads.


Where it all began


It all started innocently enough. About five years ago, McDadi’s friend, Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia, said he had tickets and asked McDadi if he would like them. McDadi thought he’d go to a few games and offer tickets to other people but after the experience of sitting courtside, he was hooked and went to all of the games himself. “This is too much fun,” he says. McDadi even ties his travel to the Raptors’ schedule.

Before the partnership, McDadi, who loves sports and had been a Raptors fan for years, had organically grown a relationship with the basketball organization, helping one player, then numerous players and coaches, with their real estate needs. 

Then, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment approached him with an opportunity to partner. It took a couple of months to work out the details of the three-year sponsorship. 


How the partnership works


McDadi says the partnership is a good fit because he and the organization share the same values. When the Raptors promote McDadi Real Estate as its exclusive broker, it “adds to our credibility and image,” he says. “They talk about us in their venues and online.”

In a news release, Julian Franklin, vice president of partnership development and strategy at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment/MLSE, says, “We are pleased to announce Sam McDadi’s long-standing support of the Toronto Raptors has transformed into a dynamic partnership with the team. We are looking forward to introducing exciting joint programming to our fans this season.”

Team McDadi at Scotiabank Arena


McDadi attended the Giants of Africa Gala, co-founded by Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. “I was happy to be there and some clients got to meet players,” the realtor says.


Successful cross-promotion


McDadi promotes the team on his website and other marketing materials, a partnership that benefits both brands. His seven-person marketing team comes up with concepts and once he approves them, it’s full steam ahead. 

McDadi’s Open House, an interview series featuring athletes and celebrities, has included Raptors players. It offers fans a behind-the-scenes look into their homes.

The CP24 segments are a “fun series,” he says from Miami, on location for a shoot with a high-profile athlete for an upcoming feature.


Tips for agents who want to follow in McDadi’s footsteps


“I’ve been in the business for 35 years now. I’ve worked hard to build a good brand. Slow and steady wins the race. Someone else could have the same level of success, but you must be patient,” he says.

“Things happen organically. Don’t be pushy. With any client, regardless of the price of the property, being pushy doesn’t work. Let things evolve. Don’t try too hard.”

And, an all-important piece of advice: “Keep everything confidential. Don’t post (all kinds of) pictures. Athletes like respect and privacy.”

The Raptors partnership is in its infancy, but McDadi says, “We’re off to a great start. The best is yet to come.” It’s about a successful partnership that benefits both brands, but it’s also about fun and being involved in something you’re passionate about, he says.


An industry partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays


Broker Jeffrey Kerr of Re/Max Prime Properties Unique Group in Toronto also knows what it’s like to be passionate about a sports team and to have a dream-come-true partnership.

When Re/Max Canada announced that its realtors are the official real estate agents of the Toronto Blue Jays, to say Kerr was pleased would be an understatement. Kerr, who on most days wears a Blue Jays t-shirt, is elated about the national sponsorship, which runs until the end of the 2025 Jays’ season.

“The Blue Jays are the only MLB team in Canada, so it was a good fit with Re/Max promoting the team across the country,” he says.

David O’Reilly, partnerships director for the Toronto Blue Jays, says, “The Blue Jays are Canada’s baseball team and Re/Max has a network of more than 25,000 brokers and agents across the country, making our partnership a perfect match. Together we are working to grow our respective brands and engage Canadians.”

It’s all about brand recognition, Kerr says. “We’re allowed to incorporate the Blue Jays brand in our advertising and website. Brand awareness creates a good connection point with clients. For Jays fans, it’s a conversation starter. It’s a way to build up relationships.”

Jeffrey Kerr at his Blue Jays-themed desk


When he visited the Rogers Centre in the fall, Kerr says that seeing Re/Max branding across the arena was very “impactful.”

He’s working on Toronto Blue Jays-related events to offer clients. “I love to take clients to Jays games,” Kerr explains. It’s Blue Jays all the time — he has a Blue Jays flag flying outside his home and when he’s not working, he’s either at a game or watching one on TV. “The Jays sponsorship really speaks to me.”

As for the other side of it, O’Reilly explains, “Our partnership gives Re/Max Canada the ability to leverage the Blue Jays brand in nationwide marketing and communications efforts to help drive brand affinity and consideration among the millions of Blue Jays fans in communities across Canada. We’re grateful for Re/Max Canada’s support and are excited to build a best-in-class partnership in the years ahead.”


How to find a meaningful partnership


If big league sponsorships are too expensive for small offices or agents starting in the business, Kerr recommends choosing a sport that you’re passionate about and starting by sponsoring a local team.

For example, he sponsors his daughter’s girls’ softball team, called Kerrazy, and says he gets a lot of personal satisfaction by helping the team out. He has a video on his website about the team and its achievements.

Make sure you pick a reputable league and that you have a passion for the sport. “Most sports leagues are looking for sponsorship, so call them and discuss the opportunities. It’s important to support the community you’re working in. If you’re new to the area or a new realtor, call and ask about advertising opportunities.”

Kerr reminds agents that small sponsorships can go a long way. “Conversation = relationships = business.”


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