In Its Second Year, Major League Rugby Focused On The Long Haul
A long, sustained growth is in the cards for Major League Rugby.
The league is avoiding a big splash before disappearing by staying close to earth with expectations, commissioner Dean Howes said.
The league started last year with a truncated, 31-game season with seven teams and has nine teams for a 75-game 2019 season, but by 2022 there’s likely to be 16 teams, Howes said. Until then, when the league hits a wide enough market reach to have true success, Howes said the league will continue to build itself slowly across the nation.
“It’s in your partners and your expectations,” said Howes, who has previous management experience with Real Salt Lake and the St. Louis Blues. “You have to know what can spend and can’t spend and have realistic expectations you can and can’t drive. No league has reached its full stride in a season, or five or 10.
“Major League Soccer is extremely successful, but it is still just hitting its full stride and is 20 years into it.”
With slow and deliberate growth, Howes believes Major League Rugby can grow into another major sports league in the United States. The league already has teams in Austin, Texas; Denver; Houston; New Orleans; New York City; San Diego; Seattle; Salt Lake City; and Toronto. Teams are lined up for the next two seasons in Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Dallas, with potentially two or three to be added.
The league and teams are a single entity, like the MLS, not a franchise model. Operators of the teams are also owners within the league.
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