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MLS commissioner says remember the NBA when looking at attendance

MLS commissioner says remember the NBA when looking at attendance

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MLS Commissioner Don Garber's "State of the League" address delivered at the All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, gave some insight into the league's direction for the next year but did little to address its key issue: attendance. The only mention Garber made was to compare his league to the NBA, reminding those in attendance that it took "29 years to average 10,000 fans" at NBA games.

Among other tidbits: Garber said the league has "$140 million in long-term sponsorships."

He also stressed the need for expansion as a way to cure some of MLS' ills.

"We need to expand our national footprint for television and media support, and we will expand by two teams by 2002," he said. "We are targeting a second team in the New York Tri-state area as well as a second team ... in either Philadelphia or Atlanta. We are in active discussions with potential investors for Tampa and Dallas, as well as ... in Houston, Seattle, Rochester [N.Y.] and Sacramento for expansion in 2004."

MLS investor/operator Philip Anschutz presented his Los Angeles stadium plans to the MLS board of governors on the day before the July 29 game.

The All-Star Game drew a capacity crowd of 23,495.

 MLS NOTES: Brian Dunseth, captain of the U.S. Olympic soccer team and defender for the New England Revolution, signed an endorsement deal with Champion Nutrition to be his exclusive nutritional supplement provider. No terms were disclosed. ... Kappa is expanding its relationship with MLS by becoming the league's official ball in 2001.

  SOUTH AFRICA APPEALS WORLD CUP DECISION: South Africa lodged an appeal with world soccer body FIFA to set up a process of arbitration aimed at challenging Germany's successful bid for the 2006 World Cup. Irvin Khoza, chairman of South Africa's 2006 Bid Committee, said the South Africa Football Association sent a letter to FIFA "asking them to set the process in motion." No appeal of this sort has ever been upheld.

  SOUTH KOREA'S WORLD CUP CHIEF RESIGNS: Park Seh-Jik, head of South Korea's 2002 World Cup Organizing Committee, stepped down July 27, bowing to government pressure.

"I am resigning from my post by respecting the wishes of the sovereign and to help the country stage the World Cup successfully," Park said in a statement. The move has implications for the 2002 Cup, as Park had a tumultuous relationship with the influential head of the South Korean Football Association, Chung Moon-Joon. Chung has been one of the most important emerging voices in the FIFA Congress and is credited with getting the Asian World Cup split between Korea and Japan.

  TEAMTALK BUYS INTERNETSOCCER: TeamTalk, an English firm based in Leeds, bought internetsoccer.com in a cash deal valued at $15 million. TeamTalk, founded in 1988, generates news items on U.K. soccer that is distributed via digital delivery channels, including the Internet, cell phones and satellite.

In May, internetsoccer.com's five major sites had 230,000 unique users, received 550,000 visits and generated 8.5 million page impressions. For its first five months, through Dec. 31, the company reported an operating loss of $390,000.

  SLINGSHOT PROVIDES ALL-STAR COVERAGE: MLS partnered with Slingshot Networks to bring live and video-on-demand Webcasting of the 2000 MLS All-Star Weekend to soccer fans on MLSnet.com. Previously, MLS had worked with Total Sports.

  AOL BUYS ADS DURING MEXICAN MATCHES: America Online has purchased streaming ads on TV Azteca's broadcasts of Mexican soccer matches, marking a new stage in that company's effort to expand south of the border.

Jamie Trecker (jtrecker@concentric.net) is a writer living in Chicago.

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