“If you don’t reach for the stars, you’ll never come off the ground” – Doug Logan
Former Major League Soccer commissioner, Doug Logan tells his story about working up through the sport and entertainment industry.
As an attendee of Manhattan College in New York, Doug Logan wanted to become a sports writer his freshman year. Throughout high school he was a letterman, enjoying sports such as soccer and boxing among others.
The newspaper gave Doug one option, and that was to cover the cross country team. As he approached Hall of Fame Coach, George Eastment, the first words to come out of Coach Eastment’s mouth was, “Have you ever run the cross country course?” Once Logan replied by saying no, Coach then told him he was not allowed to talk to his athletes until running the course.
Running the course everyday with the athletes and becoming close gave him valuable information for his articles. Logan also covered track and field and baseball through his freshman and sophomore years. He was promoted to assistant editor, but after his sophomore year his sports writing days were put to rest.
Before getting his career started aside from sports writing, Doug worked at the legendary ball park of Yankee Stadium. He witnessed the New York Giants play football, the Yankees, and stars such as Mantle and Mays control center field. All of these scenes were caught up and down the aisles of Yankee Stadium as a beer vendor.
As Chief Executive Officer of U.S.A Track and Field, Logan worked with the paid staff and promoted the sport. They put together a team to bring to Beijing where they won 23 medals. He then challenged the federation by setting a goal to have the U.S win 30 medals in London. And not only were they to be 30 medals, but 30 “clean” (Nonperformance enhancing) medals. Being highly doubted by many, the U.S came only one short, as they took 29 medals in London.
“I always set goals and I’m public about the goals I set. The best thing to do to promote, is to promote a winner,” said Logan.
Although it may seem that Mr. Logan is all about sports, he certainly knows a thing or two about the entertainment industry as well.
As senior Vice President of Ogden Entertainment Services he helped promote the company which was the 5th largest promotional company in the world. A facility management company that compiled and promoted shows such as Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, Madonna, and many more.
The big strike came in the 90’s. Logan owned a CBA (Continental Basketball Association) team in California called the San Diego Wildcards so he spent some time out on the West Coast. He was driving to meet friends at Pebble Beach to play golf when he got a call in August of 95’ about being the commissioner of Major League Soccer.
After thinking about the offer for a while, he agreed to an interview which was set for the second week of October of that year. He was offered the job two weeks later. The MLS held a press conference about the hiring the weekend before Thanksgiving.
And so the fun began in April of 1996 as the league opened play in 10 cities. Logan spent about 80 percent of his time on the road because he was running 11 businesses. The 10 cities, plus the league itself. The league averaged 17,000 fans per game.
“The day of the championship game it was pouring. The stadium had a capacity of 37,000 and we had 35,000 people at the game standing and cheering the whole time. The field was under seven inches of water at one point,” said Logan.
The game went into extra time and D.C United beat L.A Galaxy. Before his tenure as commissioner was over, the league expanded into Chicago and Miami for a total of 12 teams. Today the MLS is up to 19 teams (16 being in the U.S and 3 in Canada).
While with the MLS, Logan and his staff were named Sports Industrialists of the Year by the Sports Business Daily. This honor came following the first completed season by the MLS. David Stern and the NBA were the first recipients of this award, and the MLS followed by being second.
“I thought I was getting and interview not an honor. The call came as a complete shock when we got it. I couldn’t do it myself, it was certainly a team effort,” said Logan.
In 2001 a group of investors looked at what Mr. Logan did with soccer and asked him to sit down and draw up a business plan for a possible National Rugby League. Logan helped finance the potential deal, but after many attempts Rugby just was not a go.
“I’m not sure if I can see a Rugby league coming to America. There are so many successful sports right now as it is,” he said.
The American Soccer team is ranked very well in our nation, while the U.S Rugby national team is ranked 24th or so. That won’t necessarily help the case because Americans like to back a winner. Logan also went on to help promote the Arena Football League.
Mr. Logan proved that no matter what industry, there is always room to move up and exceed expectations. He worked his way through ups and downs in both the sports and entertainment industries, yet he never gave up on his journey. A high up executive giving advice for people looking to make their way into this industry.