SBD/4/Leagues Governing Bodies

MLS SET TO KICK OFF: IS U.S. FINALLY READY FOR PRO SOCCER?

     Major League Soccer debuts Saturday when the D.C. United
play the San Jose Clash in front of an expected sellout crowd of
32,000 at SJU's Spartan Stadium.  With critics saying this could
be the last legitimate chance for success of professional outdoor
soccer in the U.S., MLS investors are relying on a single league
structure, an integrated marketing approach and extensive TV
exposure to sell the game and its stars to U.S. and international
fans.  MLS is also counting on high-profile corporate sponsors
and a 64-game TV package on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and Univision to
spark enthusiasm and increase visibility.
     MARKETING:  The league exceeded its sponsorship and
licensing goals with up to $50M in total marketing revenue,
according to MLS Exec VP Randy Bernstein.  Bernstein says the
integrated marketing approach has been vital to success in
signing up such companies as Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, and MasterCard
for up to $2M each.  Bernstein:  "It's a great opportunity to
build brand awareness at the highest level with the least threat
of ambush."  Sponsors can sign deals with MLS, its teams and TV
partners, and be included in all league promotions.  MLS has
signed sponsors to three-or four-year deals, safeguarding against
losing them after Year One.  Official sponsors will have one 30-
second spot on national coverage, at least five minutes of ID on
the "clock wrap," and other marks, including signage.  They will
also have the right of first refusal on Univision and local TV
broadcasts.  Official sponsors are American Honda, A-B, AT&T,
Bandai, Fuji Film, and MasterCard.  Corporate partners, signed
for a reported $500,000 per for up to four years, include All
Sport, Kellogg, and Naya Spring Water.
     MERCHANDISE: Some teams have expressed frustration with the
lack of available merchandise at season's start, and one
complained they haven't even received team uniforms.  But
Bernstein promises MLS merchandise, backed by 25-30 licensees,
will hit stores within a month.  The delay was "deliberate" with
hopes that limited distribution would create higher demand.
Bernstein:  "We cannot flood the market."  Licensed merchandise
will be available soon in sport and soccer specialty stores and
catalogues, but not right away in mainstream retailers.  On the
field, corporate logos will be affixed on six team's uniforms.
The logo will be 3-by-12 inches on the back of uniforms under the
numbers and 2-by-3 inches on both the right sleeve and left leg.
     LOCAL MARKETING:  Each team has certain marketing categories
open for local packages.  In these deals, teams keep all revenues
under a certain threshold.  Categories open include financial
services, banks, insurance, supermarkets, and petroleum.  In
Boston, the Revolution has inked deals with Bank of Boston,
Dunkin' Donuts, Friendly's and McDonalds.  The soft-drink
category is sold as a split category due to stadium pouring
rights.  Teams can sell soft drink rights locally on a non-
exclusive basis (THE DAILY).
     NEWEST PARTNER:  MLS announced yesterday that Allsport
Photography Inc. has agreed to a multi-year supplier-level deal
to become "Official Photographer" (MLS).
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