MLS founds center to educate front-office staffers

NEW YORK – In recent years, MLS has jumped into the talent-development business with both feet. The clubs all now how academy teams, looking to nurture raw potential into polished professionals.

Now, the league is set to extend the program to young talents who don’t wear cleats, but wingtips.

The league announced on Monday the founding of the MLS National Sales Center, an academy of sorts set up to train front-office staffers. The idea is to “recruit and train ticket sales representatives” who can then go on to work in club offices.

“Ticket sales are the lifeblood of any professional sports team, and this new initiative will provide our clubs with a deeper and more talented pool of ticket sales professionals,” MLS President Mark Abbott said. “We believe the combination of classroom instruction and real-life sales experience will prepare these young men and women with the skills necessary to make an immediate impact when they join an MLS club.”

The center, located in Blaine, Minn., is a collaboration with the National Sports Center, and features “a 45-day curriculum consisting of classroom instruction and hands-on field work to prepare individuals for ticket sales positions with MLS clubs.” Students will devise and expand ticket sales strategies, and work on sales campaigns on behalf of MLS, its clubs and its properties. In addition, they will receive real-time instruction working with the Division II NSC Minnesota Stars.

“I see it as a national farm system that will help clubs more efficiently and effectively identify and hire quality sales professionals,” said Chris Canetti, Chief Operating Officer for the Houston Dynamo.

The MLS National Sales Center, which will be overseen by Bryant Pfeiffer, a member of the League’s Club Services department who also spent 14 years with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, is the first ticket sales academy owned and operated by a pro league.

So what’s next, an academy for groundskeepers? For equipment managers? Actually, not bad ideas.

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