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Open Question: How is MLS as a Product?

There are big problems in little MLS, writes J. Hutcherson of the US National Soccer Team Player's Association. Two MLS clubs are failing to show adequate growth after investing in new stadiums, new attendance problems abound for New England and now Columbus, two more clubs are talking openly about relocating, and things still haven't gotten better in New Jersey after 10 years. The evidence leads Hutcherson to the conclusion that soccer is "growth sport" that hasn't been able to expand its core. However, the league has shown there's drawing power in DC and LA, and most people still believe New York has a similar potential if only someone could find some star power and a winning team. Chicago had a good thing going for a while, but since downsizing to a smaller stadium, it has struggled to fill games. Most of these new soccer-specific stadia were built with the promise that they could be used for concerts and other events. The Home Depot Center in LA is the multi-use prototype, and it's enjoyed a certain amount of success, but it's the only one that's doing well. Pizza Hut Park in Dallas seems to have an easier time selling out country music acts. As a product, MLS just isn't selling, and Don Garber, who gives his State of the League address next week, will be feeling that underneath "the sponsor positive message."

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