Major League Soccer has been collaborating with R/GA Ventures on a technology accelerator to develop new technologies for the league. The program began in June, and the inaugural class of startups are working on pilot projects.

“In that program, we’re focused on finding great new technology to help power the fan attachment with our clubs, on-field play quality, and stadium experience,” said MLS Digital SVP and GM Chris Schlosser.

This MLS and R/GA Ventures partnership aims to provide a conduit to develop new tech into the league business. Schlosser described the work as a means to drive the core business forward rather than just explore a side project.

“Innovation is absolutely critical to driving our future growth,” Schlosser said. “A lot of times, I think the word ‘innovation’ gets thrown around just as a buzzword or a marketing word. We really see technology as a way to solve business challenges and the way to create new opportunities.”

The two entities, MLS and R/GA, are also part of a broader accelerator encompassing several other sports leagues including MLB, NHL, and UEFA called the Global Sports Venture Studio. R/GA Ventures has worked with Snapchat, Verizon, Westfield, MacQuarie Capital, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. WSC Sports, which counts MLS as a client, is a product of the Dodgers-R/GA accelerator. 

MLS reports that 36 percent of its fans are between the ages of 18 and 34, the highest percentage among U.S. sports leagues. Schlosser said the league will unveil the companies next year and hinted about some of the potential.

“We’ve seen really cool technology around augmented reality in ways that we frankly hadn’t expected and some use cases, especially to get kids out and playing, that we think are really cool,” he said.

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