SOURCE: IMG Academy

IMG Academy

December 19, 2013 17:00 ET

MLS Selects IMG Academy as Eastern Hub for 2014 MLS Preseason

Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, New England Revolution and Toronto FC Among Teams to Converge in Bradenton, Florida

BRADENTON, FL and NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - December 19, 2013) - Major League Soccer (MLS) has selected IMG Academy as its Eastern hub for the 2014 preseason. MLS teams including the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, New England Revolution and Toronto FC are expected to train and compete in a series of friendlies also featuring international clubs beginning in late January and continuing through the end of February. The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has allocated funds to MLS that will be used by the league and its teams for a national campaign promoting the preseason.

"We considered several locations to serve as the Eastern home for the preseason and, with consult from our clubs, we chose IMG Academy for the combination of its world-class facilities, ideal weather and engaged community," said Nelson Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Competition and Game Operations.

"We are thrilled to be named the official Eastern hub of the MLS preseason," remarked Scott Dean, Director of Soccer, IMG Academy. "While we remain a leader in player development, we continue to evolve as the preeminent event destination for all levels of the game."

Echoed Gary Pluchino, Vice President of Business Development, IMG Performance: "From the IMG Cup series to the United Soccer League championship series to the Olympic Development Program, IMG Academy has emerged as the ultimate soccer training and competition venue."

The Bradenton, Fla.-based IMG Academy is home to the U.S. U-17 Men's National Team. The campus also annually hosts professional teams in a myriad of sports. Individual MLS clubs have trained at IMG Academy, as have international clubs such as Sweden's Malmö FF, England's Tottenham Hotspur, and Brazil's Cruzeiro Esporte Clube. Additionally, IMG Academy is the host site for the United Soccer League's (USL) largest events, including the Super-Y and Super-20 North American Finals, the W-League and W-20 Championships, PRO Combine, Olympic Development Program camp, and more.

IMG Academy's 450-acre campus features a 12-field professional soccer complex, as well as the new state-of-the-art IMG Academy Stadium, which seats 5,000 and boasts a broadcast-ready press and hospitality box with coach, press, and radio rooms, as well as VIP suites.

IMG Academy's continued investment in facilities, combined with an aggressive event recruiting strategy, portend positive gains for the Bradenton Area. Currently, IMG Academy exerts more than a $500 million economic impact on the region. New construction included, IMG Academy's impact is expected to surge to more than $700 million.

Remarked Elliott Falcione, Executive Director of the Bradenton Area CVB, the area organization contributing funding to the MLS initiative: "We are thrilled to be a part of this unique relationship that will put the Bradenton Area on a national stage and no doubt enhance our market share globally. Initiatives like this allow us to continue to drive new dollars into our community and create opportunities for growth."

Beyond the food, lodging and travel impact of the visiting teams, the MLS preseason presents unique opportunities for fan engagement and national television and digital coverage, creating a powerful platform for national exposure for the Bradenton Area. A schedule of preseason friendlies will be made available in the coming weeks.

About IMG Performance

IMG Performance, a division of the global leader in sports, fashion and media, IMG, is aimed at developing sports performance research, products and services that have grown out of the division's world-leading integrated academic and athletic training institution, IMG Academy. Development areas include: Personal & Organizational Performance; Performance Events; Labs & Research; and Educational & Training Products and Services, including IGNITE 360 Performance Training.

For more information about IMG Performance, visit imgperformance.com; for IMG Academy, visit imgacademy.com

About Major League Soccer

Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. MLS features many stars from the U.S., Canada, and around the world. Major League Soccer's 18th season featured 19 clubs each playing 34 regular-season matches. Those clubs include the Chicago Fire; Chivas USA; Colorado Rapids; Columbus Crew; D.C. United; FC Dallas; Houston Dynamo; Montreal Impact; New York Red Bulls; New England Revolution; Philadelphia Union; Portland Timbers; Real Salt Lake; San Jose Earthquakes; Seattle Sounders FC; 2013 MLS Cup Champion Sporting Kansas City; Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Expansion teams New York City FC and Orlando City Soccer Club will begin play in 2015. For more information about MLS, log on to the league's official website at www.MLSsoccer.com.

About the Bradenton Area CVB

The Bradenton Area CVB promotes tourism to Manatee County and the communities of Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch through domestic and international advertising, public relations and marketing efforts. The CVB is funded by the collection of a tourist development tax paid by lodging guests for stays less than six months within Manatee County. http://www.bradentongulfislands.com/

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