Garth Lagerwey was a standout goalkeeper at Duke University, and after a career in Major League Soccer has moved on to become the general manager and senior vice-president of soccer operations of Real Salt Lake, the current MLS champions.
Garth has a unique pedigree in the sport from an on-the-field and administrative standpoint, and recently spoke to MBA Soccer to offer some insight on the book Soccernomics, Major League Soccer and inquired about the cost-effectiveness of youth academies.
MBA Soccer: In what areas do you believe Major League Soccer needs to improve to increase its audience and revenue (short- and long-term)?
Lagerwey: We need to keep building soccer-specific stadia, and we’re seeing this with the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union, as both of their buildings open this season, and Kansas City just got approval to build a new stadium, which will hopefully open in 2011. Stadia are critical from a revenue generation standpoint. Nothing announces permanence like building a home. Here in Salt Lake City, the construction of Rio Tinto stadium has enabled us to do much more in the community and with our team than we could before. We can provide our fans with a genuine soccer experience in what is currently the best stadium in the US.
On the technical side of things, we need to work on our youth soccer and keep more of the best athletes playing soccer. Almost all kids play soccer growing up, but we lose athletes to other sports as they enter high school. We need to provide more development opportunities, specifically to kids in the 18 to 23 year old range, and we need to continue to develop our youth academies.