John Guppy

Top 10 MLS Insights from Don Garber

MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, joined a distinguished group of soccer leaders at last week’s SoccerEx global convention in Manchester, England. With MLS celebrating its 20th season, Garber addressed a wide variety of competitive and commercial topics. If you are a brand marketer looking at soccer in America and MLS specifically, here’s 10 insights we think you’ll find interesting from the Commissioner’s remarks. To listen to the full audio interview click here.

  1. One of the great things about America is diversity and the fact it is made up of people from every country around the world – a perfect representation of soccer’s global appeal. “Of all the sports in our country, soccer is perhaps the most American, based on what we are, what we represent, gender equality and our commitment to diversity.” Garber commented.
  1. The Millennial generation has grown up with MLS and following the National Teams. As a result, soccer is the 2nd most popular sport in the U.S. for Millennials (after the NFL).
  1. NYCFC is averaging over 30,000 fans a game and has become a place to be for New Yorkers. Interestingly 60% of the Club’s 18,000 season ticket holders have never owned a season ticket before (for any sport), highlighting soccer’s unique demographic reach.
  1. David Beckham is making progress on bringing an MLS team to Miami with a stadium site at the location of the old Orange Bowl in his sights. The Commissioner is confident something could get done this year.
  1. Things are also hot in Atlanta where 2017 expansion team Atlanta United FC have already secured 25,000 season ticket holders.
  1. Every business wants to be in touch with its consumers, and MLS is no different. The League regularly draws upon the insights and opinions of a 20,000-person strong fan panel.
  1. From an expansion perspective, MLS has become a sellers market with more potential investors interested in teams than there are available opportunities. While there is no specified plan to grow beyond the stated 24 teams, Garber notes there are still plenty of major markets without a team where MLS would like to establish a presence.
  1. MLS has always seen itself as a leader in the field of technology integration. The League is currently testing instant replay and is a vocal advocate for finding new ways to improve the game via technology.
  1. We live in global media world and no sport embodies this more than soccer. The recent broadcast deal between MLS on Sky Sports in the UK has been extremely well received and brought tremendous credibility to MLS.  One of the reasons for Sky’s enthusiasm comes from the unprecedented behind the scenes access to players MLS is able to provide when compared to leagues such as the EPL.
  1. MLS remains firm on accomplishing its stated vision of being one of the top leagues in the world by 2022. “It will be generations before we are literally playing at the level of the EPL or Bundesliga. But that’s ok – we just want to be of part of conversation. We want people to think of MLS as a league of choice”.

Categories: Domestic, Major League Soccer