Royals announce jersey patch deal with QuikTrip

Partnership will benefit community through series of charitable initiatives

February 21st, 2024

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- QuikTrip is now the official jersey patch partner of the Royals, the company and team announced on Wednesday ahead of the Royals’ Cactus League opener on Friday and Opening Day on March 28.

The Royals will wear the QuikTrip logo on all uniforms in Spring Training and the regular season. And the multi-year partnership is built around investing in the community, with the focus on literacy needs in the Kansas City area.

Kansas City has been exploring uniform sponsorship opportunities since MLB and the MLB Players Association approved the use of sponsor patches on jerseys at the beginning of the 2023 season. But the Royals wanted the right opportunity.

“From our perspective, these are really unique opportunities,” said Royals executive vice president, chief commercial and community impact officer Sarah Tourville. “It’s probably the most important partnership because our players wear it, and it’s our most important brand asset. As they provided that opportunity to us, they were reversing it as a jersey patch. But to us, a jersey patch just didn’t seem like it was enough. As we started thinking about an ideal scenario, [it was about] much greater than, ‘What revenue can you generate from it?’ But how do we find a partner with the same values and beliefs, acts with the same heart and grit, who shares that same integrity from generation to generation.”

The Royals found that partner in QuikTrip.

“Right away, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, not only is this an awesome brand and cool brand, one that stands for quality and has such great regional presence, but it really aligned on those core principles and values,'" Tourville said. “So those conversations just started a series of dialogue about if we could do something incredibly unique, and we really focused on the alignment of their community impact initiatives.”

What they aligned on was education. According to the joint press release Wednesday, only 21% of third graders in the Kansas City public school district and charter schools are reading on grade level. That metric is a primary indicator for high school graduation: students who can’t read proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school.

Research also shows lower literacy rates are tied to higher risks of violence, drug use and other poor health outcomes. Those struggles only continue into adulthood, with lower literacy rates associated with increased hospitalizations and other health risks.

Literacy is a key pillar of The Kansas City Royals Foundation’s mission, while at-risk youth and early childhood education have been long-term priorities for QuikTrip.

“In our first conversation, we told the Royals’ team, ‘We have billboards on every corner and every highway, so Kansas City already knows about QT,’” said QuikTrip community relations manager Lauren Sherry in a statement. "But what if we could work together and use our platforms to do something that helped people? We are excited to see the increased impact of this unique partnership unfold over the next several years."

This partnership will incorporate the launch of "Hit the Books," a program focused on improving literacy rates across the Kansas City community, including a significant commitment to Kansas City Public Schools as well as a donation for every Royals hit this season.

“It’s intended to work with educators, school systems, non-profits, key community leaders," Tourville said. "And will both utilize that to inspire action amongst the kids to excite them about reading and certainly help us generate philanthropic dollars to give back to the education system.”

Other initiatives will include a QuikTrip and Royals adopted classroom program, the establishment of mobile libraries -- which they’ll call Crown Libraries -- across Kansas City, in-game and in-broadcast literary-related activations and others that will lean on the Urban Youth Academy.

With the focus of the partnership on the community, QuikTrip will also begin to have general marketing support in Kauffman Stadium as well, Tourville said. The Royals started the process of a sponsor patch with their current brand partners, many of them local, but landed on bringing QuikTrip into their partnership portfolio. It was also a significantly higher financial proposition for whatever sponsor was brought in.

“We were coming at it from a very non-traditional marketing perspective all the way through our exploratory process,” Tourville said. “I think our partners will find a lot of synergies with QuikTrip. … QuikTrip rounded out the portfolio, but we always look at leveraging and upselling our current partnerships.”