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MLS Expansion in Full Force
The Wall Street Journal, March 23rd, 2007 4:19PM

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For those in the soccer industry, the process of popularizing soccer in America has been a long and at times fruitless undertaking. For the past 11 years, the massive project has ever so slowly been building momentum through the growth of MLS. Following that big announcement in January, league officials are now hoping we can refer to all that came before as "the before time"-before David Beckham, that is.

However-and we've heard this before- the Wall Street Journal reminds us that the glitz isn't worth a thing without a strong foundation. To a certain extent, we're talking about the product here, but MLS and many MLS supporters believe the product is actually quite good. What's needed an overhaul, and what's every bit as important as a good product, are the financial underpinnings. In the last few years, the league has implemented substantial changes to help bring more money, and thus, influence, to MLS. The three biggest moves were securing TV deals with ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel, Univision and HDNet, mandating that each franchise acquire its own stadium, and allowing each team to sell its jersey rights to a sponsor.

On Friday, Beckham's L.A. Galaxy became the latest MLS team to sell those rights, partnering with the nutrition supplement company Herbalife in a deal worth between $3.5 and $5 million per year. Why the Galaxy? Because the L.A.-based company is looking to expand into Asia, and with Beckham's huge visibility there, CEO Michael Johnson believes the sponsorship will open those doors. And that's good business for everybody. Read the original story...


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