USA CUP lead sponsor makes on-site retailer change

The local approach is out when it comes to managing footwear, equipment and apparel retail operations at this year’s USA CUP.

Soccer Express Owner Dave Jenson recently confirmed his Minnetonka store has ended a 29-year retailer of choice relationship with the National Sports Center (NSC).

“We went back and forth with Puma [the lead sponsor] regarding a couple of ideas and at the end of the day, they decided to go another direction,” he said.

Barclay Kruse, NSC chief communications officer, said Puma decided to bring in Eurosport, a North Carolina-based company, to manage its USA CUP retail operations in Blaine.

“They are going to come into the tournament with a much larger view of the retail function of USA CUP,” Kruse said. “They are a huge online retailer.”

According to Kruse, the NSC receives a commission from retail sales made during the tournament. The money collected goes into USA CUP general revenues.

“They have already provided us with a lot of different things that we haven’t had before,” Kruse said, referring to e-mail postcard and newsletter marketing.

The Puma World Store opened July 12 and will close Saturday, July 21; its new location will be the recently opened 21,000 square-foot NSC Sports Expo Center, Kruse said.

“The space is dedicated to them now through the end of July,” he said. “The company that serves as the USA CUP soccer sponsor chooses the retailer.”

During the past 29 years, Jenson said he’s hired more than 2,000 kids to work retail at USA CUP. Each year, he would have 70 employees from around the Twin Cities filling event orders.

“I put a 1,000 hours a year into USA CUP,” Jenson said. “You get kids who have never had a job before and year after year, many of them would come back”

In 1978, Jenson began selling Minnesota Kicks soccer merchandise out of his dorm room at the University of St. Thomas.

During his early years in the business, he noticed it was nearly impossible to find soccer gear in the Twin Cities. That’s when Soccer Express was born.

A relationship with the NSC soon followed.

“Paul Erickson [Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission executive director] came to me during a soccer camp for him and asked I had a store,” Jenson said.

The next summer, Jenson set up a 10-foot by 10-foot tent and served 70 teams. During his years at USA CUP, Jenson’s signed 15 different retail contracts.

“I have no hard feelings on the whole deal, [with Puma], but I’m going to miss working USA CUP and having a group of employees out there this year,” he said.

Tim Hennagir is at [email protected]