08 December 2008

Will a European city host an American sports franchise?

According to an article in the Guardian, Tim Leiweke who runs AEG, the entertainment company who own LA Galaxy, thinks that there will be European based team in an American sports league within the next two years.

I think Tim Leiweke may have been hitting the egg nog a bit when he made this prediction.

The Premiership is the only league in the world that could support a team outside of its home area, and even then - if you looked at it from a pure business perspective, I doubt a team would succeed outside of England.

The global popularity of EPL is largely a result of the global fan base of four major clubs: Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal.

Of course the rest of the clubs have their share of global fans, but the vast majority of fan passion that sustains a domestic league is a function of both location and proximity. There is a reason why city derbys are so popular - it's the same reason why inter conference games in NCAA gridiron are more passionate. There's no hate quite like neighbor hate.

Unless you have some kind of Cold War thing going on, by placing an ocean between teams, you dilute the passion. The exception to that rule is of course the World Cup, where every country gets a shot at the biggest prize in sports, but that's a single tournamenet, not an ongoing enterprise.

I can't speak for Europe, but for the places I've lived outside the US, US based team sports have absolutely zero unless you base a team in an American sports league on foreign soil next to a large US military base, I can't see it working.

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