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USA TODAY LOOKS AT MLS' TARGET MARKETING OF ETHNIC GROUPS
Published March 3, 1998
"More than any other professional sports league, MLS targets ethnic audiences, especially Hispanics, the USA's fastest-growing minority population," according to USA TODAY's Peter Brewington. Brewington: "Winning remains the top priority, but in the critical game of putting fans in seats, assigning international stars to maximize their ethnic appeal is a close second." Analysts say it's a reason MLS has had "a successful start-up." But Brewington adds that while "such a strategy ensures teams a front row of passionate fans, it also might work against the league in perpetuating the image of soccer in the USA as a 'foreign' game." Revolution GM Brian O'Donovan: "We need to concentrate our crowd-building effort on the general population." Hispanics account for 23% of MLS fans, and while league marketing officials "admit it's hard to tell if their player deployments actually are working," analysts say the ethnic marketing approach is a "sound" one. Dean Bonham of CO-based The Bonham Group: "The Hispanic market is lower- to middle-income right now, but can be described as a soccer-educated demographic with spendable income that's growing at a very rapid rate" (USA TODAY, 3/3). YOUNG GUNS: Project 40, the joint venture between MLS and the U.S. Soccer Federation, "took a major step last week toward putting" young U.S. players in a "professional environment almost year round." U.S. Soccer and MLS have "arranged for a Project 40 select team to compete" in the A- League, the "main breeding ground" for MLS teams and the for the U.S. World Cup team (Alex Yannis, N.Y. TIMES, 3/3).