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The Future of the North American Soccer Experience | SXSW 2021

Don Garber
Commissioner at Major League Soccer
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SXSW 2021
March 18, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
SXSW 2021
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About speakers

Don Garber
Commissioner at Major League Soccer
Matthew McConaughey
American actor and producer

Matthew David McConaughey is an American actor and producer. He first gained notice for his supporting performance in the coming-of-age comedy Dazed and Confused (1993), which was considered by many to be his breakout role. After a number of supporting roles in films including Angels in the Outfield (1994) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994), his breakthrough performance as a leading man came in the legal drama A Time to Kill (1996). He followed this with leading performances in the science fiction film Contact (1997), the historical drama Amistad (1997), the comedy-drama The Newton Boys (1998), the satire EDtv (1999), the war film U-571 (2000), and the psychological thriller Frailty

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About the talk

MLS features the youngest, most diverse, millennial, and tech-forward fan base of any North American sport. During the past quarter century, MLS has changed the North American soccer landscape with new markets, state-of-the-art soccer stadiums and content connecting with millennial and Gen Z fans. The League continues to push what it means to be at the intersection of sports and culture. In this session, MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, and Austin FC’s Minister of Culture and part-owner, Matthew McConaughey, will discuss how the League is deepening fan engagement, and how Clubs are becoming cultural mainstays.

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SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. An essential destination for global professionals, this year’s online event features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. For more information, please visit sxsw.com.

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Hello, everybody out there. Matthew McConaughey here, I'm going to be sitting out today and virtually we'd rather be as we set off line prior to this in front of some fire talking about or talk about in person. But because the times we are not myself and commissioner, Don Garber of Major League Soccer to be talked about all things Major League Soccer where it is, and where it's going to Mission of Garber, how are you sir? I'm doing great. Matthew, great to chat again. Can't wait for the kickoff to the season. But man, I'm excited about this, again, I'd rather be there with

you live, but, you know, there should this ought to be a lot of fun. We'll make that happen. Next time, I got a bunch of questions for you. Let me, let me, let me start off with something that's obvious. Major League Soccer, it is happening. What I mean by that is his trajectory is higher than the suburb in. It says hot as it's ever been from you. The commissioner what has been the key? In your mind to leave Strokes Matthew. It's interesting because our Sports new, you know, where one of the newest major leagues in the United States and Canada throughout North America. And you don't

probably 20 years ago, we started saying that MLS was going to be a league for what we were calling a new America changing demographics. Young people that are getting empowered and look how Empower they've been through this last year and seeing the voice that young people could have those young people grew up with a game of soccer. Now, they want a team of their own, they want to be able to be passionate supporters. The empowerment of Youth has been a big part of it and the Hispanic story me. What a big story that is in, in Texas, but it really is throughout our country. When the

league was founded, there were no less than 30 million Hispanics in our country and as of today it's double there's an almost 65 million. So all of those, those things that make us, this Leaf, renewamerica, that's been a super big part of it. But, you know, It has to do with you. It's unusual to be living in a generation where you can see a League start with a teams and then grow to be near 30 that we are now. It's just, you know, if you're a baseball fan or basketball fan, you know, maybe there's a new team or so, but basically, they have leagues are what they are and they've been that way

for Generations. You know, this this league has been coming into great cities like Austin Texas, right? Where there is a energy in the city, there's a passion for the game. And we just year by year ago, into these new markets and great things have been happening. And I think the third, you know, there's only one more thing after that. His idea of building a stadium, you know, you're such a big supporter of Texas, imagine what a football game would be. Like if it wasn't in that legendary Stadium. Will we're building all that from the ground up here. You guys are going to have a brand new

stadium. It's going to be part of the landscape is going to be part of the architecture of your city. And we've been doing that from scratch League, started had no stadiums in. No, now will have 27 so though the building the foundation is Portal. Lastly and you can relate to this because your new owner of the oven MLS team, its ownership, you know? And it's not just something that Commissioners, say, your phone is really do matter are the caretakers of the brand. They're the ones that are pushing it out to get supporters, who care about it, they're ensuring that their clubs are engaged

in the community. And when you get a good owner with a good staff will put them in a good stadium, in a good Market. Oh man. That's really what's been driving that that's the formula. Matthew forts made out of us. Work hard with made it at work and will continue to make it work and grow. Yeah, you know, soccer is now becoming architecture in in, in, in many cities that were building and just to see and feel the support directly and indirectly to see the signs, but I'm also just to feel it. It's in the vernacular of the popular sport to play in American. And I just

remember, you know, even in my generation not that many years ago just twenty years ago, it was always sort of a subsidiary sport, even spoke about and now it's not and that is very exciting. I got a question for you. Coming up in 2026, United States, Canada, Mexico, come together to host FIFA 2026 World Cup. Very exciting times, what impact will the World Cup have on this league? The MLS, and our support? Well, you know, it's it when we think about this is why we are also focus and try to make the world's

biggest event big sporting event in the world by far. Matthew, 19th 1994 World Cup, was the most popular World Cup that that international soccer. That FIFA has ever had. More people went more tickets sold etcetera, etcetera. So we have this unique ability to have a North star and think about the business world that we live in what company knows where they're going to be. Exactly six years from now. We know that in 2026 that there's going to be the biggest event. The world is to be in the US, Canada, Mexico and it allows us to enter clubs in our players, all of our partners to build towards

static raid. This pent-up demand, this excitement, and the Center Chino be our 30th Anniversary. So we're no longer we will be the new kid on the Block and it's an opportunity. I think to create this connection between Mexico. Canada, USA, do politically, you know, there's been so much talk about that. What is what is this region, really mean? But what really matters to everybody is the fact that they love the game of soccer obviously in Canada and Mexico is called football, but this is going to be an unbelievable opportunity. Just incredibly excited about it. Yeah,

me to you. You're right. You know, the way you talk about it to build toward the North Star, it's like in storytelling movie making what I do to have your third act. We built in which is 2026 for soccer. That is, that's a third-act. A, the world game is coming to us. We are hosting it, on our front porch, to be to have that to build towards that, you know, is going to be an awesome event. The place to be on the globe, and it's on our front porch, a place for our citizens in North Americans. And, and it went to see the game even ones. That don't mean, not love it as

much today, we'll know more about it then and it's going to be on our front porch. All the different styles, all the different flags, all the different countries and then by that time we're sure what the sport is very, very exciting. I've been excited and More excited about what that date can mean for MLS soccer. When people who've never been to World Cup, see what it's like, it's insane. Take the Super Bowl and you have fifty of them in cities across the country. People are up all night, banging drums, blowing horns. I mean text. I'm sure

they'll be at least one side in Texas that allows the game. Yes, it's crazy. Speaking to Texas, let's speak about Austin, Texas, had to go somewhere and here you know how I'm connected? Austin. How much? I love the City of Austin and in a lot of us are working, they are to make Austin FC, something legendary for our city. Last commissioner tell me, tell us what makes Austin special for you for an MLS team in for MLS, but would really Matthews about soda? Where are the cities in America? Where the future is

still in front of them. In Austin is such a historic City, there's so much great things and it happened there over the hundreds and hundreds of years since its founding. But what is important to to us as the league today is Austin, is a city on the rise so much energy, so much culture so much music, so much food, so much are so many young people, so many companies that are moving air to create the new Austin. And we want to be on the floor. I love his front porch. We want to put Austin as the front porch of where America is going and we want to be right and ride

right in the front, we want to be in the front of that, that story. So you got a great city with a lot of energy even more so When we announce this team, you know, several years ago, and then you got it, you know, you got a pretty cool. If you got a young guy and Anthony precourt and you got yourself and you got any more Gaynor, his partner and local people plus people that really care about it. And then you add to that the stadium, you know, that, that stadium in the domain is going to win the great soccer stadiums in our country. And I think it's going to show the world. What Austin

really can be in the new Austin to get with big companies going down there and it it's not just about South by Southwest and it's not just about great music and great food. It's about what Austin is going to be at. It's going to be a great soccer town. So then it's perfect. I'm on with you, I believe it and it feels that like that is absolutely for sure. So far, we are eager like y'all are two to have our first night on the pitch to have our first experience in our Stadium. You know, it's a game on the, Mississippi on the come and they are to emerging Things the game of soccer

and the City of Austin coming together and that's another reason why I agree with you. It is a perfect timing, perfect City for it speak about owners and I may you, please give me a piece of advice for being a part owner in a first-year team in the MLS, but let me start with a broadly Matthew. I said this when I was at the press conference in Austin, during a cool bar, everybody's cheering and what not and I said hey you might be cheering me now, but you're going to be pulling me tomorrow

when we have to find one of your players or we got to, you know, suspend somebody here and there. So the first thing is never get on the wrong side of the commissioner of your first, your daughter or, or what do I, what do you know? I thinking and listen, you, and I talked about this before that it is a new generation of orders. Coming in that really understand the importance of culture. They really understand the importance of a local community, they understand the power of sport. So what new owners really need to do is to figure out, you know, you can only be knew once after that, you're new

and improved ride in the girls. So you got to really take advantage of that first year in ensuring that the brand means, everything you wanted to be get the team right though. That's not your players. Get injured, referees, make bad calls. You can't depend on the winning team is out of sales strategy, right? It helps, but it's not the way that's going to drive while that opportunity in value. But I think the most important things to cook for you, particularly if you'd really be sure that this team represents your community, it represents Austin, it's a piece to what this city will be

so that it could be different from every other city in Major League Soccer. And frankly Ever every other cities around the world, I think the club did a great job on a launching the brand crate in the Oak, right? Which is Iconic. Great colors. Got a great coach and Josh Wolf. So as an owner just, you know, pay attention to all of that, then you've had conversations without I saw, you do something with Will Ferrell. And I will start a comedian when he's innocent in nlfc, LAFCU, even that much fun for me to hang out with. He's a literally wants to understand.

What does the what do they need to do to be successful on and off the field and I'm excited for you and the rest of your partner's? You know it's going to be great. Cherish it I want it one time for a first impression. You never want to come out being Hasty the same time. We sure are excited about. And I believe that our foundation at this point and I will continue to be set to launch something that can become a classic. I can become legendary and smell the team in the city.

Fire questions I got from you. Got any for me? I do about it. So this is similar to you. I've listened to your interviews, you know, before their sin. And I get interviewed all the time, but I never get the opportunity interview. Anybody else ride? So I cherish that you're sitting back on the chair and having my notes and pretend like I'm really smart. So I hope I don't screw this up but you know, I picked up the most important thing for me Matthews, man. You got a lot of stuff going on in your life, like both of your family rights personal life and what you doing

professionally, you know, your new book, right? With green light switch is really terrific. So what made you of all the things that you could do all the Investments that you could make? Why Austin FC great questions? Generally, I'm looking for legacy choices in my life right now. Meaning Not one of the choices, not Investments of my time energy and creativity for the next year or ten years. I'm looking for choices that I look forward to having on my proverbial Monday morning desk. Every Monday, all the way through the weekend and

through the end and next year, and ten years. And when I'm on my deathbed and hopefully something to pass on after I am gone to my kids and future Generations. So I saw step season is a chance for a real Legacy choice for all those reasons you know. Awesome. See who came to me the time of it at an intersection where my family is love for the game. Meets a city in Austin, that is absolutely Prime for the game in the Middle Ages that you have been talking about. My wife is Brazilian my kids love the game of soccer, how you can play it anywhere. It's a game and it's a

city that are both on the come as it is. I was talking earlier, you said, Austin being a city where the future is still in front of us. It's a game where the future is still in front of us. It's an emerging City in emerging game. It's a disruptive City destructive game end. American Austin is Young and diverse. You said it earlier that's football. That Soccer Plus Austin is already home to two of the three so the universal language is being food and music so it was high time to add the third language

R Us that are you know, running Continental business, right? So what is it? What's going to surprise us about Austin? So I know I've been there quite a bit but I've never live there, I hear about it. I hear about companies moving there and all the collab in the South by many. Many times tell me something that we're going to see that. We don't really know about that the city. So what a great things about Austin is like, we don't have Niagara Falls. We don't have Disney World,

we don't have these places that a tourist destinations that people come for a certain event. What you have in Austin, the DNA of Lost in the core of August, which makes it so great. As the people in the people, make up the vibe, it's a town. Where if you follow your ears you will like what you said to me, it's often works best, you can feel it when you're there, you got this capital of the state in in, in Austin, Texas on this side of street. And across the street, you have this young pirate University with fifty thousand, young men and women, thriving for progress,

and wear those to reach across and push, you pull up each other is part of the vibrancy of Austin, Texas. As I said earlier, we have a couple of the things that are go worldwide. We have, we have food, you know, it we have music. Those are, those are at Universal languages, it's a Vibe Town, you'll come. You'll see. You said that. We've said the word young youthful? Couple times, it is a Forever Young Town. Even if you're 85 years old, you have a useful Outlook and an optimistic endlessly optimistic Outlook in the city of Austin, Texas. It is a great

place, my own people a skeleton. Wait, where should I go? Or should I not guys to look at you looking for food, drink and good company. If you go anywhere because if some place in Austin is not providing that they aren't going to last very long. I didn't happen Matthew you know, like it and we have a team in Dallas with a team in Houston, right? You know, we're trying to understand what what creates a rising city. How does Nashville become Nashville? You know, how does some of these cities that are grown in San Diego? Charles Charlotte in Austin, in the middle of texting in the middle of

side effects this way. How did it happen? It just you guys have to be Thinking about that, what I'd like to know so that we could understand how to, you know, try to take advantage of that opportunity, but also to see how could that happen in another city that eventually? What is that? Well, I'll say this, and this is going to sort of answer. I'm coming from a place of being a minister of culture. Like, for Austin, FC, for UT for the City of Austin. Austin has a great identity. It always has had a

great identity. I think that's the first thing is, if a place has my identity, we go, that's different. They know that feeling there that you could scale out Austin of a sitter earlier. It, it used to be just a music politics and University town. Now, it's a banker Town, mouse.com is a tech Town. People are moving there today, they always been a creative that we are. We honor imagination in Austin. Where is city that nobody's too good and he's good enough to get what you want. We don't run over your back to get it. We believe that you

could, we can all get it if we go side by side and so it's always had a distinct feel. I just smelled the rule, for Austin to get along with Austin's, really work in the rule, for Austin to be you. How do you, how do you translate that into sort of an identity for the team? That's, that's going to be the, the real opportunity. And, and frankly, the real work ahead, right? August unique things. Well, it's work ahead, but it's also, I think it's right in our feet. We don't need to look outside ourselves to say,

hey, who do we want to be? We're looking at the best of Austin, the truest of Austin and saying, that's who we want the club to be. We want the club, Austin FC to be synonymous with Austin Austin, to be synonymous with Austin FC. We want the club to be the flag bearer for Austin inside and outside the sport. I always say this and I hope is that your if you take a snapshot of the stadium On Any Given Night War. Snapshot from the sky, when you zoom in should look like all the rich and diverse pieces of Austin in one Stadium,

We're creating a destination for all the different communities in Austin to come together. 21,000 strong On Any Given night and see the world game played are way less in Austin. It's it's really a nectar, and Austin is a city that at its best is very connected but yet like any City we have our different boroughs. This is a place to bring all the Burros together as a flag bearer of Austin for people to come from young and old all the way the team of burrows just got a asset man

look forward to getting it all started. When all is said and done. If you're going to look back, I mentioned that the first year is the one, you'll never forget, right? Like everything in my life. I'd never forget the first one. What is it, what's give me something that you thinking about that you want to be able to meet when when your meeting with the staff and you talking about we have to have impact. What do you think? Is that one thing you'd like

to be able to look back on and say this is happened in our 2021. Are you? All right? So look, if I'm looking back, if I'm going to jump out fifty years now from the jump out of hundred years from now. Let's see about a hundred years ago that we were essentially authentically Austin. From day, one out of gate that the history books will say. Look at the hundred year war and boy Austin FC. They were in it from the for the Long Haul from day one, it was again, we talk but that's part of what makes it makes it

so exciting. The house and you get to be part of building a legend, starting at day 1 building the foundation of that, I hope history books as you know, we were forever young forever, curious Forever Wild As austinites and is Austin FC. We came in on the shoulders of cultural Giants in the city and we created new Giants on the pitch and now it's a. I hope that they look back at our debut back in early 2021 as the day, when the Austin FC seed, first saw the sun And it's a look at what the City of Austin in Austin FC grew to be. Wow,

that's legendary is really, really cool. Alright man. Well, I can't wait to see you, I'll be there for opening day and pack stating I'm sure everybody knows that tickets are hard to get, which is a great way to kick off. Any any new sports team. Look forward to seeing you and your family and see history being made. You as well. Thanks for the time today in with us. We will continue. These talks and more. Hopefully, next time person commits, you're done. Take care of Matthew good. See you soon.

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