MIAMI, Fla. (November 20, 2019) —
More than 1,800 soccer business insiders from 80 countries, including myself, will assemble at the Turnberry Resort in Aventura on Thursday and Friday for the SoccerEx USA 2019 Conference. The conference includes 90 speakers, including Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas, CONCACAF general secretary Philippe Moggio, and Amanda Duffy, the president of the National Women’s Soccer League.
Soccer executives from clubs, leagues, federations, media rightsholders and suppliers will hold a series of panels which discuss topics affecting the sport: from the evolution of the sport to branding to stadium innovations to youth soccer to the growth of the women’s game. Major sponsors include Concacaf, MLS, and LaLiga.
This is the second year the conference has been to Miami. It is owned by GAPC Sports, which is involved in many soccer ventures. Its chairman, Joseph DaGrosa, who lives in Miami, purchased French Ligue 1 club Girondins de Bordeaux last year. DaGrosa has had preliminary talks with Mas about a friendly match between Inter Miami and Bordeaux.
One of the panels will feature Alexi Lalas, the Fox analyst and former U.S. national team star. He is a moderator at the conference, and will have a conversation with Don Garber, in which the state of MLS and the future of the league is discussed.
“I can’t believe we’re in the 25th year,” Lalas said of MLS. “With the perspective of what Don has done and what I saw when I was there at the start, we want to give a breadth of perspective to folks, especially from a business perspective because there’s this curiosity globally about what MLS is doing and what MLS has done and an understanding of how they’ve planned it.”
“I also will ask Don about his plan going forward for what he wants MLS to be, the South American aspect, the relevancy globally, the branding of the teams; and you can’t talk to the commissioner without talking about expansion.”
Lalas Talks Inter Miami
Lalas has been watching the Inter Miami launch closely and likes what he sees.
“It’s been a hell of a saga, to say the least, all the twists and turns,” Lalas said. “We’re right back in Fort Lauderdale for now. But ultimately, if there is that pot of gold at the end that is a Miami stadium, I think it’s going to be good. They’ve surrounded themselves with good quality people who understand the unique aspects both of MLS in 2020 and what that is and isn’t, and on the ground in Miami what needs to be done and working through all the stuff.”
Lalas said it is critical for Inter Miami to make a big splash immediately on and off the field.
“I remain bullish in that I envision Miami being a lot more like an Atlanta as opposed to a Cincinnati at the start,” Lalas said. “Because of what Miami represents, they can’t afford the perception of a soft launch in the way that other teams have done. Miami has to hit the ground running. It’s difficult without that stadium there, but they have to show the ambition that matches what that perception is of Miami, international and cosmopolitan and first class.
“When we all show up for that first game and experience, we need to leave there saying, ‘Jesus, if this is what they’ve got in a temporary site, think of what they can do in a permanent site.’ It’s a first impression, and they only get one chance to do that.”