La Liga, Spain’s top soccer league, will begin playing a regular-season match in the United States in 2019. Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium is a likely venue for the inaugural historic game.
Relevent, the sports and entertainment company owned by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, announced Thursday that it had signed a 15-year promotional deal with the Spanish league that includes a regular-season game on U.S. soil every season. The inaugural match is expected to be played next year and the venue could be Hard Rock Stadium, where Barcelona and Real Madrid played exhibition matches in front of huge crowds the past two summers.
“This extraordinary joint venture is the next giant leap in growing soccer’s popularity in North America,” said Ross. “This unique relationship will create new opportunities for millions of North American soccer fans to experience the most passionate, exciting and highest level of soccer in the world.”
As part of the deal, Relevent will promote La Liga in the United States and Canada through matches, youth academies, development of youth soccer coaches and marketing campaigns.
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“In our six years of running the ICC (International Champions Cup), one thing has been clear from the beginning -- Americans want to see the best players from around the world play on U.S. soil,” said Matt Higgins, CEO of Ross’ RSE Ventures. “Coming out of the World Cup and leading up to 2026, we’re at an inflection point for soccer in this country. It’s the right time to bring a league game from the top league in the world to the states and we believe this will exponentially increase the popularity of the game in this country.”
One of the two teams in the U.S. match would have to give up a home game among its 38-game league season just like American pro teams do when they play abroad. The NFL has played 30 games in England and Mexico since 2005. This season, the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will play the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Oct 28. The NBA, Major League Baseball and NHL have all held games overseas.
“This partnership demonstrates La Liga’s vision and foresight to be the top soccer league in the world,” said Relevent CEO Danny Sillman. “Combining La Liga’s strong tradition of excellence with Relevant’s expertise in this market will accelerate the growth and popularity of soccer in North America and La Liga’s global brand.”