SBD/3/Leagues Governing Bodies

USA TODAY LOOKS AT MLS' TARGET MARKETING OF ETHNIC GROUPS

          "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).

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