MLS commissioner Don Garber talked about a variety of topics in a recent interview and said that soccer continues to surprise a lot of people in the U.S.
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said that the 22,000 season tickets that have been sold in Seattle prior to even one match being played is the latest example of how soccer is surprising people in this country.
“This sport continues to surprise lots of people in this country.” Garber said in an interview with the New York Times. “Toronto wrote a great blueprint: the right ownership group, focused on building a proper brand and integrating it into other sports properties that they own.”
But the commissioner was clear that the blueprint Toronto created has changed once again with the MLS’s newest franchise.
“The blueprint continues to change, and that’s exciting,” Garber said when asked if Seattle would be considered the model of a franchise without a soccer specific stadium. “I don’t think we ever imagined that this level of success was possible in Seattle in a large football stadium. It proves that when you are a young league, a growing business, you’ve got to continually evolve your thinking.”
That evolved thinking includes not opening up all of Qwest Field’s 67,000 seats for soccer matches, but Garber insists that the atmosphere is all that matters, even during the MLS Cup.
“I think it is very important to create intimacy,” the commissioner said. “I’d rather walk away from a couple extra bucks and create the right environment and the right value in the marketplace.”
MLS is also looking to build on the success of new franchises in Toronto and Seattle/ Garber said that the two new teams' successes are helping to draw interest from new investors. However, tMLS will try and focus on finding cities that show a lot of interest in the game.
“In this environment, to go into a new market that hadn’t really shown the same energy that we’re seeing in Vancouver and Portland, for example, wasn’t worth the risk,” he said. “I think I got one email from a fan after we announced we weren’t going forward in Miami. One email! I’m not saying we won’t look at Miami at some point in the future, but when you have to narrow it down to two cities, you go with the ones you think will be most successful. That’s ultimately what we’re coming down to as we race to announce our next two teams.”
The city of Seattle will get its first chance to support the Sounders next Thursday when the Sounders host the New York Red Bulls in the franchises first regular season game.
Allen Ramsey, Goal.com