By Barry Janoff
September 18, 2014: Although the 2014 Major League Soccer season does not end until November, the league took time out in September to talk about 2015, during which MLS plans to unveil a plethora of new innovations as it enters its 20th campaign.
Included will be two expansion teams — New York City FC and Orlando City SC — new marketing and media partners and a new-look logo that will morph to change for each club in the league.
MLS has experienced near-continuous growth since Don Garber become commissioner in 1999. Having signed a five-year extension earlier this month, he will continue to oversee operations at least through 2020. He has stated his vision of having 24 MLS clubs by 2020 and having MLS ranked as one of the top soccer leagues in the world.
"Today is about a new vision for our future," Garber said during a media event in New York. "That future we are calling MLS Next, [which will] remind us that our best days are ahead. It's a reminder that says tomorrow is going to be great, but the day after tomorrow and the day after that will be even better."
According to Howard Handler, CMO for the MLS, the new logo — known in MLS circles as a crest — "is a great reflection of our character and our ambition and where we are headed as a league. We are building a bold and progressive sports league for North America, one that our fans, our clubs, our players, our partners can all be a part of."
The league is planning for 21 clubs next season (although there currently is some question as to whether new ownership and a new stadium deal would be in place for Chivas USA in Los Angeles, leading MLS executives to place the franchise on hiatus). New York City FC and Orlando City SC will begin play in MLS in 2015, and an expansion club in Atlanta is scheduled to join in 2017.
The league said that an ownership group led by David Beckham "is continuing to work on an expansion club in Miami."
Currently, 15 MLS clubs play in stadiums built or renovated for soccer, with additional venues scheduled for San Jose (2015) and Orlando (2016), according to the league.
MLS begins TV and media rights partnerships with ESPN, Fox and Univision in the U.S., with continued media partners TSN and RDS in Canada.
The new MLS crest replaces a logo that has been in place since 1996. Unveiled during the media event, it will be used league-wide, but MLS also designed the logo to be customized to fit each club's official colors.
A national roll-out begins with the release of EA Sports' FIFA 15 (Sept. 23), followed by jersey unveilings by New York and Orlando in November (available at retail) and a new soccer ball from adidas in December.
A multi-level marketing campaign will break next year sporting the new logo and supporting the 2015 season beginning at the MLS Combine and SuperDraft in January.
The annual "Jersey Week, which the league said "remains a key event in our calendar," will hit prior to the start of the MLS season.
Updates for the Web site, mobile apps, fantasy games, and connected devices with the new brand are "expected to be available before the start of the 20th season."
In addition, MLS executives expect to sign new marketing partners to add to a roster that currently includes adidas, EA Sports, Allstate, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), Bimbo, Castrol, Chipotle, Continental Tire, The Home Depot, Kraft, Panasonic, PepsiCo (Pepsi, Gatorade, Aquafina, Quaker), Red Bull, Visa, Volkswagen and Wells Fargo.
“In the last 18 months, we have introduced new teams, new soccer-specific stadiums, an eight-year, multi-million dollar media rights partnership, and our owners have made significant investments to sign world-class athletes," said Handler. "Together, these elements have led to the realization that our current brand is no longer a proper representation of the league we are and want to become.”
Back to Home Page