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OBITUARY: John Kluge (1914-2010)
September 8th, 2010 10:09PM

TAGS:  mls, new york red bulls, obituary, soccer business


John Kluge, one of the richest men in the United States and an original investor in Major League Soccer, died Tuesday at the age of 95.

The MetroStars were named after Metromedia, the media company Kluge owned for many years and made him a billionaire. Kluge and his business associate Stuart Subotnick operated the MetroStars from their inception until 2001.

During their reign, the MetroStars featured such international stars as Roberto Donadoni and Lothar Matthaeus and coaches as Carlos Alberto Parreira, Carlos Queiroz and Bora Milutinovic, but they struggled to find success.

A dispute in 1999 between the MetroStars owners and MLS deputy commissioner Sunil Gulati over the contract of MetroStars midfielder Tab Ramos, the first player Gulati signed when he stocked MLS rosters for the league's 1996 launch, resulted in Gulati's ouster. Seven years later, Gulati would become U.S. Soccer president.

The MetroStars owners pursued plans to build a soccer stadium at several locations, next to Aqueduct race track in Queens -- Subotnick owned race horses -- and in Harrison, N.J., where Red Bull Arena was eventually opened this year by the New York club's current owners, Red Bull.

Kluge's successor company, the Metromedia International empire, was hit hard by economic problems and Kluge and Subotnick withdrew from MLS in 2001 and sold their interest in the MetroStars to AEG.

Kluge had many financial interests during his business career.

The Metromedia stations he owned later formed the basis for the Fox television network. He once owned the Harlem Globetrotters and Ice Capades. He also operated many chain restaurants.

In 2009, Forbes magazine ranked Kluge as the 35th richest American with an estimated net worth at $6.5 billion.

  1. Stephen Sullivan
    commented on: September 9, 2010 at 8:24 p.m.
    John was also one of the nation's greatest modern philanthropists as well. From the largest sigle donation to his alma mater (Columbia) to millions for AIDS and cancer research to support of anti-poverty initiatives large and small like Meals on Wheels, BandAid and Rock & Wrap It Up!, Kluge has been generous with his time and money.

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