Joe Favorito, a longtime sports and entertainment communications, marketing and branding consultant, hails the MLS labor settlement and sees a bright future for soccer in the USA. MLS and the players union did what few other sports have been able to do: settle discussions without a work stoppage. And on the same weekend the New York Red Bulls opened their new stadium. In addition, the launch of a new franchise in Philadelphia, the continued growth of success stories in the Pacific Northwest, and the World Cup, "can maybe, just maybe position soccer for its growth to the next level in 2010 and beyond."
The long dormant New York market (despite a run to the finals in 2008) will get a breath of fresh air with the new stadium. The biggest boost in the Northeast will be in Philly, where both men's and women's expansion teams begin play this year and a new stadium is on the horizon.
Arguably the best launch of any sports franchise took place in Seattle last year with the Sounders. In the next two years, MLS gets to replicate and grow that success in Vancouver and Portland. The blueprint is there and hopefully that halo as well will expand, writes Favorito.
And then there's this summer's World Cup, the effects of which could and should spill over to marketing and branding success for the sport. North American domestic TV, English and Spanish, put up big numbers for rights fees and will be testing 3D TV. Quality international friendlies will abound in MLS stadiums, and soccer will have another window to shine and shows its wares to a casual sports fan like never before, on multiple platforms. Of course the success of the U.S. team will also help. Will brands use this platform to activate with MLS or the sport? That is TBD, but the opportunity is there for sure.