As we discussed when commenting on the new MLS Spring destination in Arizona, preseason is a great opportunity to sell the sport and the league in a less formal setting. MLS seems to be making use of this opportunity and allowing fans to connect to players and teams in the off season. Over the weekend, the New York Times took a look at the league’s relationship with the City of Tucson, where a number of MLS franchises are spending a portion of the preseason. Tucson used to be a destination for Spring baseball, but those days have ended. According to the piece in the Times, the City is looking to MLS to fill the void. ” the city is bracing for an economic lift — and a small measure of revenge — when six Major League Soccer teams arrive in the coming weeks to train here for the first time. Four of them — the Los Angeles Galaxy, the New England Revolution, the New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake — will also compete in the Desert Diamond Cup, a two-week tournament that could draw as many as 50,000 fans…”
We’ve long discussed opportunity and need for MLS to capture the multitudes of American soccer fans that don’t follow the league. This is never more obvious then when Mexico makes one of its regular trips to the US to play friendlies. These games always outdraw USMNT matches and as this article points out, the tv ratings are through the roof. If MLS could capture just some of those millions as regular viewers (either in English or Spanish), the league’s television revenue would increase dramatically.
Finally, MLS fans interested in getting a peek at their new television partner had an opportunity on Sunday night as NBC Sports Network provided a live telecast of the Olympic qualifying final. Despite almost no mention of the game on the NBC Sports website, the telecast was fairly professional and the coverage picked up the large BC Place crowd in Vancouver.