Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Decade of "The Don"

The Rapids today congratulate MLS Commissioner Don Garber on a special anniversary...today marks exactly one decade of him being in office.

On August 4, 1999 Garber was sworn in as the new Commissioner of MLS, replacing Doug Logan.

Rapids Managing Director Jeff Plush had this to say about Commissioner Garber's 10-year anniversary: "It's amazing to see just how far this league has come in the last 10 years under Don Garber's leadership. His sports marketing experience and background in the NFL led to his being able to position MLS as a real sports power both domestically and internationally. But really it is his passion for this sport that has grown our league over leaps and bounds this last decade."

On that historic day, 10 years ago today, in New York City on August 4, 1999, Garber issued this prophetic statement as he accepted his new position: "I am enormously excited about managing the next phase of development for world-class professional soccer in the United States. I am particularly encouraged about leading this sport that is so uniquely positioned for long-term growth, and translating the passion of the game into mainstream America."

Check out the old MLSNet.com news story from that day.

Other excerpted quotes from that press conference in 1999 that hinted toward the future of MLS' potential included:

"Don Garber is a very experienced sports executive who brings a wealth of international knowledge to his new position as Commissioner of Major League Soccer," said Lamar Hunt, investor-operator of the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards. "The future of MLS will be tied to consistent, conservative growth and Don will be an invaluable leader in that respect."

"Don Garber's track record at the NFL revealed a person highly capable of managing a growing sports and entertainment business," said New England Revolution investor-operator Robert Kraft, whose family also owns the NFL's New England Patriots. "His 15years of success at the senior level of a multibillion dollar business prove that he has the savvy and work ethic to ensure Major League Soccer's success, both domestically and internationally."

On this day we pause to look back at just how much has been achieved in the last 10 years under Garber's watch, from soccer specific stadia (only Crew Stadium existed in MLS when Don took office) to expansion cities to the formation of Soccer United Marketing to competitions such as SuperLiga to Designated Players to Game First initiatives to youth development programs to huge league television and sponsorship deals.

Congratulations on 10 years Commissioner.

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