DENVER (AP):Kaka and David Villa are raising the profile of Major League Soccer (MLS). Clint Dempsey and the US national teams have done their part, too.Buoyed by international football icons and capitalising on recent World Cup success by the American men’s and women’s national teams, the league is drawing record numbers so far this season, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in an interview with The Associated Press this week.MLS averages 21,109 spectators a game, a figure bolstered by the additions of Orlando City (Kaka’s squad) and New York City FC (Villa’s team). The 20-team league also has new television deals that allow their stars to be seen all over the globe.MLSLOSINGMONEYStill, MLS is losing money – Garber declined to give an exact figure – as teams write big cheques for top players and fund player development through academy programmes to discover the next Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan or Dempsey.”We’re still in investment mode,” said Garber, whose MLS All-Stars beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Wednesday. “But there’s a lot of momentum for the sport of football in the US and Canada, and that is empowering.”Next on the docket? Expansion. Atlanta is scheduled to join MLS in 2017 and a second team in Los Angeles the following season. Down the road, Miami and Minnesota are expected to come on board as well.Garber threw his support behind a plan presented by retired football icon David Beckham to officials in Miami. Beckham and his partners are looking at the former Orange Bowl site, with the field financed privately and built on city-owned land at an estimated cost of around $200 million.”We believe Miami will be a great MLS market and we look forward to bringing the whole project across the finish line,” Garber said.As for Minnesota, that’s proving a little more challenging. With the passing of an early July deadline for a stadium plan in Minneapolis, the league is turning its attention towards St Paul.”We’ve now become intrigued by a possibility of having a stadium be in St Paul,” Garber said. “Similar with Miami, though, without a stadium, you can’t go forward anywhere. But we remain hopeful.”Other potential markets include Sacramento, St Louis or San Diego, he said.”That speaks to this overall growth period that we’re going through,” Garber said. “You have to do expansion right. There’s no rush. If we have to wait any period of time to get it right, we’re willing to do that.”Garber is encouraged by the number of foreign players headlining MLS rosters – and not just as a last resort.Sebastian Giovinco, the 28-year-old former Juventus standout, has 13 goals and 10 assists for Toronto FC this season.Then there’s Kaka and Villa, a pair of 33-year-old highly decorated players who are demonstrating they still have flashy moves. Kaka scored on a penalty kick in the MLS All-Star game and set up Villa’s goal.
In fact, some industry observers say the box office boost from Oscar night could disappear as studios focus on timed DVD releases to maximize profits. This year’s crop of Best Picture nominees have not been as popular with the public as recent releases like “Ghost Rider” or “Norbit.” “Departed” was the only bonafide box office hit, with a domestic gross of $131.8 million. “Babel,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “The Queen” have grossed around $160 million combined. “The films, box office-wise, were relatively weak, with only `The Departed’ making over $100 million, so the Oscars are going to do more to boost the visibility of some of the DVD releases,” observed Ralph Tribbey, editor of The DVD Report, a weekly industry newsletter. Tribbey said “The Queen,” for which Helen Mirren won Best Actress, should benefit greatly once it hits DVD shelves on April 24, as should three-time winner “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the Spanish-language film set for DVD release May 15. When Amazon.com DVD editor Doug Thomas checked his company’s “Movers and Shakers” sales chart shortly after the Academy Awards telecast Sunday night, he saw an almost immediate upward trajectory for some of the big winners. Best picture “The Departed” had perfect timing. It had been released on DVD just two weeks ago and was already topping the Amazon.com and other sales charts. Last week, three different DVD packages of the mob thriller were residing in the top 25, with a special two-disc edition at No. 2, the widescreen single-disc version at No. 6, and the Blue-ray version No. 21. “It wasn’t a happy accident,” Thomas said Monday. “Hollywood for the last several years has been looking at the schedule of the Oscars and the nominations to check their release date.” Amazon.com’s Thomas said he saw an immediate bump in demand for “The Last King of Scotland,” which won Forest Whitaker the Best Actor Oscar. The DVD does not go on sale until April 17. “Little Miss Sunshine” was already benefiting Monday from Alan Arkin’s surprise Best Supporting Actor win as it returned to Amazon.com’s top 10 overnight. It was the first of the Best Picture nominees to be released on DVD following its theatrical run last summer. “The box office boost from the Academy Awards is going to kind of be a thing of the past if these things keep being released on DVD right around the time of Oscar time,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Media By Numbers. “The conventional wisdom used to be to milk every last dollar out of the box office before you release on DVD. But I think the studios are realizing there is a way to maximize both modes of delivery for these films.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3758 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!