MLS: League names Don Garber as its new commissioner

Major League Soccer appointed Don Garber, formerly the Senior V.P. of the National Football League's International division, as the league's new Commissioner, Chief Executive Officer and President. MLS Chairman Stuart Subotnick, representing the league's Board of Governors, introduced Garber Aug. 4 at a news conference in New York City. Garber replaces Douglas G. Logan, who served as Commissioner since the league's inception. "I am enormously excited about managing the next phase of development for world-class professional soccer in the United States," said Garber, whose succession of Logan will take effect immediately. "I am particularly encouraged about leading this sport that is so uniquely positioned for long-term growth, and translating the passion of the game into mainstream America." Garber, 41, brings a wealth of experience at the highest levels of the American sporting landscape to Major League Soccer, the United States' only Division I professional soccer league, now in the midst of its fourth season. Garber will oversee all business operations of the 12-team league, which employs 65 people at its headquarters in New York City. "Doug Logan was instrumental in starting Major League Soccer from scratch and building its foundation," said Subotnick, the MetroStars investor-operator. "Don Garber's expertise in a variety of areas at the world's most prominent sports league makes him the perfect person to bring MLS to the next level." Garber is a 15-year veteran of the National Football League, where he pioneered such innovations as the NFL Experience and managed the NFL Europe League. During the last three years, he oversaw all of the NFL's rapidly developing business endeavors outside the United States, including television production and rights distribution, various marketing and fan development activities, sponsorship sales, product licensing and the execution of the hugely popular NFL exhibition games and ancillary events. "Don Garber is a very experienced sports executive who brings a wealth of international knowledge to his new position as Commissioner of Major League Soccer," said Lamar Hunt, investor-operator of the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards. "The future of MLS will be tied to consistent, conservative growth and Don will be an invaluable leader in that respect." During his tenure with the NFL Europe League, Garber managed an organization that grew from just five employees based in the NFL offices in New York, to a global organization of more than 130 people, with offices in six countries (Australia, Canada, Mexico, England, Germany and Japan). Revenues grew 250% and profits increased 400% during his tenure. "His success with NFL Europe has been exceptional," Subotnick added. "He took a foreign sport and achieved success with it in an area of the world where they don't play the game or view it on a regular basis. Don's experience will help MLS capitalize on the extraordinary opportunity to make its mark among American sports spectators." Prior to being appointed head of NFL International, Garber was Vice President of Business Development and Special Events for NFL Properties, the league's vaunted marketing arm. The events marketing group, which he created in 1990, was responsible for all NFL event television programming, event marketing and grass roots activities and entertainment programming. This included the management and production of the famed annual Super Bowl Halftime Show, several annual television specials and more than 30 event marketing programs. "Don Garber's track record at the NFL revealed a person highly capable of managing a growing sports and entertainment business," said New England Revolution investor-operator Robert Kraft, whose family also owns the NFL's New England Patriots. "His 15 years of success at the senior level of a multibillion dollar business prove that he has the savvy and work ethic to ensure Major League Soccer's success, both domestically and internationally." During his tenure at NFLP, Garber created the NFL Experience, the League's interactive football theme park at the Super Bowl, which represents the industry standard. As an extension of the NFL Experience, he launched NFL Attractions, the group responsible for managing the NFL's foray into location-based entertainment and retail destinations. "Don Garber made important contributions in NFL Properties and NFL International, including the creation of the NFL Experience at the Super Bowl and his stewardship of the recent expanded interest in NFL Europe League," NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue commented on Garber's tenure. "He gained the respect and confidence of his NFL colleagues through his creativity, integrity, and leadership. We wish him much success in his new position." Garber began his career at NFL Properties in 1984 as a marketing manager responsible for corporate sponsorships, and was promoted to Director of Marketing in 1988, with responsibilities for managing all national NFL corporate sponsorship sales and marketing. Prior to joining the NFL, the Upper Montclair, New Jersey, native worked in public relations at Ruder & Finn, and helped launch a sports marketing division at Burson-Marsteller, a Young & Rubicam subsidiary.
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