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Volume 25 No. 234
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Excel Sports Management Looks For Soccer Foothold With Austin FC Deal

Excel Sports Management hopes to gain a soccer foothold in North America by way of its first MLS deal with expansion club Austin FC. Excel, which has an established past in the NBA and on the PGA Tour, sees MLS as the second-fastest growing sport in America behind the NBA. “Over the next 5-10 years, there won’t be more new buildings popping up in sports than in soccer,” Excel Senior VP & Head of Properties Jason Miller told THE DAILY. “Soccer is the next frontier. The jury is not out on soccer anymore.” Excel will work with Austin FC’s current partnership team, as well as serving as the club’s exclusive national and international third-party sales agency for jersey sponsorship and venue naming rights. The partnership comes after Austin FC just last week secured 30,000 ticket deposits in a 24-hour time period. A month ago, the club secured a deal with St. David’s Healthcare as its first founding partner -- a partnership that was brokered before Excel came on board. "Austin, as a city, is appealing to national and international brands,” Austin FC President Andy Loughnane said in an email. “The combination of an attractive sport, attractive league, and attractive market often resonates with brands and Excel is well positioned to help Austin FC expand its developmental efforts beyond Austin.”

DEAL DETAILS: Excel first approached Anthony Precourt's ownership group last fall when when it was still with the Crew in Columbus, but talks eventually broke off. Discussions resumed when Precourt assumed control of the Austin franchise. Steve Lauletta, the former president of Chip Ganassi Racing, had founded Charlotte-based Pigeon Sports Marketing and had been working with Austin FC since MLS announced it as the league’s next expansion team. Lauletta had built a previous relationship with Miller, who was at Premier Partnerships from ’15-18 and helped broker FC Cincinnati’s jersey sponsorship with Mercy Health while there. Lauletta will remain involved in cooperation with Excel and support Austin FC’s sales efforts. In addition to the Austin FC deal, Excel already is exclusively representing La Liga in North America. Excel has also helped broker several jersey patch deals in the NBA, including with the Hornets, Rockets and Bulls.