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Soccer Business


March 3, 2014
Disney wants to grow MLS Spring Training presence

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Chelsea FC is the latest club to become part of a Simpsons-themed promotion from Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products.
Chelsea FC is the latest club to become part of a Simpsons-themed promotion from Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products.
Courtesy Chelsea FC
Walt Disney World might be the happiest place on earth, but the executives running the ESPN Wide World of Sports Facility will be a whole lot happier if they can continue to grow their Major League Soccer spring training presence.

Having just wrapped up its fifth season, the Disney Pro Soccer Classic featured seven MLS teams, as well as Fluminense's U-23 team, but to far the tournament has seen a changing array of MLS teams from year to year.

Disney Sports Manager of New Business Development Patrick Dicks would like to see teams make long- term commitments to train in one locale, similar to the way Major League Baseball teams have for a century in both Florida and Arizona.

"We want to replicate what baseball has done," said Dicks. "We want to get eyeballs on the league and the fact that the league is starting, so more people know that the season is going to start, and Disney in Orlando is one of those venues. We've got Arizona on the West coast, Chris Keeney does a great job there, you've got the Charleston Battery doing a great job up there. You've got these stable preseason venues now and it's just how do we get the word out to more people and how do we make this a destination for fans to come down."

Having teams commit to being in one place on a long term basis is paramount to be able to start generating fan traffic from the team's home cities. It would give fans a chance to plan vacations around spring training.

"This year we've just now seen a decent return of people coming out to watch. You can say that's because of Julio Cesar, Thierry Henry, Michael Bradley, Tim Cahill," said Dicks. "The league is bringing all these great players in. It's just how do you get more eyeballs on them in places that don't have MLS teams."

Dicks thinks establishing permanent training locations would be good not only for his complex, but also for other hotels and resorts in the area, and for the teams, for MLS as a whole and for soccer fans, who could have an opportunity to interact with players in the warmer Florida weather.

While the Disney resort boasts a top-notch training facility, others in the area have also cropped up. The ChampionsGate resort has built eight soccer fields, and the New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC and Fluminense stayed and trained there.

Both Florida and Arizona have spent millions to build spring training facilities for Major League Baseball teams. Dicks thinks there might be an opportunity to tap into the state for soccer as well, especially if tourism is involved.

"You look at our venue as a host site of the tournament and a training venue, and you've got these other resorts, that drives incremental revenue, tax dollars to the state and room night revenue," said Dicks.

World Cup, this Bud's for you
Budweiser revealed Rise As One, the brand’s global creative campaign on behalf of its sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup.

As part of the agreement, Budweiser will create new soccer-themed advertising, and will develop and distribute global broadcast and digital World Cup-related content.

In addition, Budweiser has unveiled special packaging for the tournament, featuring the FIFA World Cup Trophy. The limited edition aluminum trophy bottle will be introduced simultaneously in more than forty countries, and will serve as the centerpiece of the brand’s packaging, which also includes limited edition glass bottles, cans and secondary packaging, which also will be available globally.

D’oh, Homer gets the Blues
Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products has unveiled Chelsea FC as the latest team to join its campaign featuring a collaboration between The Simpsons and soccer. Joining FC Barcelona, FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, Sport Club Corinthians, FC Porto, Juventus and Boca Juniors, Chelsea Football Club will co-create a broad line of branded merchandise that will be available to consumers in 2014. A soccer-themed episode of The Simpsons will air in March 2014 on FOX.

Coming Clean, SUM signs deal with Clorox
The Clorox Company has reached an agreement with Soccer United Marketing making it an official partner of the U.S. Soccer Federation and the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol. Under terms of the agreement, Clorox will support the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams through sales and marketing efforts highlighting the company’s Clorox, Kingsford, Hidden Valley and Glad brands. It will support the Mexican Men’s Team in the United States through similar efforts involving the Clorox, Kingsford and Glad brands.

Other deals
Soccer 2000 has been named the exclusive and official soccer store partner of the Chicago Red Stars.

Adidas has signed a multi-year partnership with the Dallas Cup, making the sportswear company the exclusive apparel and product provider for the elite international youth tournament. As part of the partnership, adidas will provide match balls, official tournament apparel and gear, and a wide range of adidas/Dr Pepper Dallas Cup licensed products. Additionally, adidas will provide the Dallas Cup with assistance in securing Super Group participants.

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