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FC Cincinnati has a pickle on its hand with sponsorship to its new stadium:
I figure I will start the week off writing about futbol because I had a few folks send me stuff about MLS this week.
My take is that every two or three years folks write think pieces on how MLS is going to find the magic wand that will make them as big as the Premier League…and you just don’t know it.
The truth of the matter is that MLS needs to rethink its business model because just trying to be the pipsqueak brother of the NBA, NFL, and NHL isn’t doing the sport any favors in America.
The popularity of the sport is growing in both measurable numbers, but also in intangible manners. Like the person that mentioned to me that after watching the Champions League final for many years, last year was the first time he could remember going to the bar and having groups of fans there to actually watch the match as well.
But the assumption that folks are going to just come out to see soccer matches because folks want to watch the Premier League, Champions League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, okay…I could go on, isn’t true.
The point is that there isn’t a direct correlation between folks watching the game on the TV to see folks like Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho, Lionel Messi, or Neymar is going to translate into folks rushing down to their local MLS venue to pay big money prices to see former stars of international soccer live out their final big-money contracts in the States.
They might, but you are going to have to become smarter about marketing and selling the value of coming to an MLS game.
I’m picking on MLS this morning but really the story is on display in buildings all around American sports in baseball, football, hockey, and basketball as well.
The key to long-term growth and success is going to be a rethinking of the marketing and selling of the live sports experience to emphasize the value of actually coming to the match, game, or event.
Which brings me back to the story about FC Cincinnati. Read it and think through things for a few moments…this isn’t an uncommon experience in sports business in the States. There are lots of examples of folks talking a big game and not delivering results.
But this article is just the chef’s kiss of “what in the world were people thinking?” and “who was watching the store?”
It is amazing and it highlights the importance of having the right partners, understanding goals and ambitions and targets, a clearly defined scope of work, and I could go on…
The reality is that this just highlights the ongoing nature of so much of the business of sports in America looking too much like the Wizard of Oz and less like a multi-billion dollar business. And, until sports and the businesses around them start using the technologies, tools, and ideas that drive success in other industries, the world of sports business is going to continue to underperform compared to its potential.