NEW YORK – December 17 may fall during theoffseason, but there it is still reason to celebrate if you’re an MLS fan: It’sthe most important birthday in league history.
This year marks the 17th anniversary of the firstformal unveiling of Major League Soccer to the world. Back on Dec. 17, 1993,the chairman and CEO of the World Cup USA 1994, Alan I. Rothenberg, presented the frameworkfor America’s new league and unveiled the logo in an event held in Las Vegas in conjunction with the World Cup final draw.
“It was a very exciting time,” said MLS President MarkAbbott, who was a senior vice president for business development at the time. “Therewas a FIFA executive committee meeting where Alan presented the basicbusiness plan for what became MLS. And immediately after that, we went into a press conferencewhere Alan announced that FIFA had reviewed and approved the plan that we hadput in place for what ultimately would become the league.”
FIFA had required the formation of a national league as oneof the conditions for awarding the World Cup to the US in 1994.
Abbott was part of a team of individuals who worked on developingthe league blueprint in the six months leading up to the formal announcement. Earlierthat same December, the final plans were presented to the US Soccer Federation, whichhad to provide the first sign-off before the league went public in Las Vegas.
Once the formal unveiling took place, the wheels were set inmotion. That same weekend, the 22 cities interested in becoming MLS markets wereprovided with details for the selection process.
Another piece of the legacy left behind on that Dec. 17came in the form of the official MLS logo, which is still used today, albeit slightlymodified from its original form. Abbott tells the story of how five nationally renowned design firms were commissioned to submit 15 to 20 logos each beforethe group was whittled down to a handful of finalists.
“The one I liked is ultimately what became the logo, but Alan was leaning towards a different one,” Abbott said. “Alan’s wife alsoliked the winning logo and that may have played a part in the final decision.”