Barely three months into a one-year partnership with the NHL Florida Panthers and the BankAtlantic Center, DeliverLean is scouting deals with other pro sports teams to support its national ambitions.

The food delivery company is discussing deals with the MLB Florida Marlins and NFL Miami Dolphins and plans to partner with other teams as it expands outside its South Florida footprint, said Scott Harris, DeliverLean president.

The nine-month-old company plans to enter the New York City market later this year and California by the end of 2013, he said.

DeliverLean is using sponsorship to accomplish two primary objectives: Build visibility and credibility for its fresh, portion-controlled meals.

“We want to build credibility by aligning with a trusted brand,” said Harris, who positions DeliverLean as a lifestyle brand, not a diet product.

Harris partnered with Sunrise Sports & Entertainment—the owner of the Panthers and BankAtlantic Center—after noticing the limited number of fresh food options in the sports and entertainment complex. 

“I’ve been to a lot of concerts and sports events in the BankAtlantic Center, but there aren’t many healthy food choices. I told them they need to have more healthy options for their clients and spectators.”

SSE could not sell DeliverLean due to contracts with building concessionaries, but it did carve out sampling opportunities in the ADT Club, the Wives Room and other areas within the venue. DeliverLean also will sample at off-site events such as the Florida Panthers 5K Run and the Publix Golf Tournament.

DeliverLean is working with the Panthers’ strength and conditioning coach to provide food for athletes and their families. The tie builds on in-kind partnerships with MMA fighter Rashad Evans and other elite athletes.

“Having athletes talk about our brand creates awareness and makes people gravitate toward the product,” said Harris.

The company also is activating the tie with on-site delivery trucks and a text-to-win promotion that dangles one month’s worth of free food.

In addition to consumers, DeliverLean is using the sponsorship as a business-to-business platform to access corporate wellness programs. SSE has already introduced the company to several venue and team partners, said Harris.

Outside of sports, the company this month will sponsor the South Florida Business Journal’s inaugural Healthiest Employer Awards luncheon and health fair. DeliverLean will hand out awards at the May 24 event to companies that have implemented innovative strategies for keeping their workforce healthy, he said.