Can The MLS Make A Leap?

WRITTEN BY MAX

MLS Could Be The Next Big Sport If It Plays Cards Correctly

Someday, soccer will be a big deal in America.  For now, it seems we only have time for four megasports.  With nobody caring about the NBA at this point, it is time for Major League Soccer to become one of the major leagues.  I have, what I feel is a simple yet genius way to accomplish this, and it all stems from the NBA skipping out on a season.

The MLS season is almost over.  Typically, players take a break, head to their respective countries and play on a club or national team for awhile.  But what if this year they decided to make a move.  What if, in the absence of the NBA (a billion dollar entertainment sport) MLS could somehow sneak in and get a ton of TV play and a ton of new, young fans, and a slice of the billion dollar pie.  What if they did something like this:

1. Create a six-week league.  Each team will travel to six destinations and play a game on Friday night.  If you back it out, start the season on Christmas weekend.  The NBA always has a slew of games Christmas day.  Have half the games (4) on Christmas day and half the following day (5 games).  Then, for the next five weeks you have games around the country.  You take the week of the Super Bowl off, but you have the networks push hard for ‘Championship Week’.  This means you try to get NBC to carry the games.  This shouldn’t be hard, because NBC has a crappy line up anyway.

Then, the week of the Pro Bowl, you have your Championship Week games by seeding the top 8 teams.  Use goals and points allowed as tie breakers.  You play Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  You have the Championship Sunday night.

2. To grow the fan base, you keep the games out of the teams’ home towns.  You travel to places that will never see David Beckham or Landon Donovan play.  For instance, the UNI Panthers and the Idaho Vandals play indoors, the Carrier Dome in Syracuse would be an option, and then scatter some outdoor games in locations like Memphis, South Carolina, Oklahoma City; smaller, warmer markets who have to drive several hours to see a game.  By doing this, you are exposing your product live to people who normally won’t see it.

3. Make it a total fan experience by allowing autographs and meet and greets before every game.  And by before, I mean have the teams come to town two days prior to the game to have open practices, let kids come in and shoot with them on the field, and give every person that comes in the door for the game a logoed soccer ball that they can take home.  This makes the players accessible to the fans, the fans feel like they know the players, and everyone who goes home has a ball to kick around and have fun with that reminds them that the MLS is a thing and they had fun at that thing.  Also, keep the games cheap.  Adults should pay $10 and the kids under 14 should be free.  This will help defer some of the expense, but it lets families in for a reasonable price and it ups the odds of making lifelong fans of youths everywhere.  Remember, this isn’t a way for the league to make money in the short term.  This is a way for the league to speed up its popularity, almost like an ad campaign.

I know this won’t happen.  But it would be very cool to see a big market company and it’s employees  say “You know what, here is our window.  Here is our chance to grow and take control of a market.”  You have to strike while the iron is hot, and it’s never going to be easier to win than when your competition doesn’t even show up.

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~ by maxaverage on November 17, 2011.

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