The Sports Business Journal has a pair of excellent pieces looking at MLS as the league prepares for the 2014 season. This is part of the annual MLS preview in the periodical. We will have more on this next week in the lead-up to the openers, but tonight we will focus on two of the articles. The first is a roundtable conversation with Adrian Hanauer, Tim Leiweke, Merritt Paulson, Anthony Precourt and Nick Sakiewicz. For fans of the business of the game, the interview is filled with nuggets about how the teams and leagues are operating in 2014. There was a significant amount of talk about the improved level of play in the league, the importance of a dedicated time slot and additional promotion as part of the next television deal and the importance of big name players coming to MLS. With respect to to local television, Sakiewicz said, “In Philly, we feel good about our ratings story. We had a 47 percent improvement last season over the previous year. We have awesome partnerships with our local ABC affiliate and with Comcast. We see it coming. We’re anticipating that in the next few years, we’ll be able to turn the corner on local TV.” Leiweke indicated that TFC wants to increase its stadium to 30k in coming years and believes that the team could have sold that many in 2014.
The other SBJ story involves a chat between the magazine’s Executive Editor and a number of his friends and acquaintances. Essentially, the soccer loving friends are asked for their thoughts about MLS. The piece doesn’t cover much new ground, but includes the usual refrains about turf fields, unknown players and the quality of play. Nevertheless, the group covers some positives about the league, including the Pacific Northwest rivalries, improving play and increasing attendance.
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