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How AEG Is Turning The Coachella Valley International Into A Serious Business

todayNovember 9, 2023 4

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The preseason soccer tournament hosted by the LA Galaxy looks to become the MLS version of baseball’s spring training.


AEG, owner of the LA Galaxy, has announced its third annual Coachella Valley Invitational (CVI) at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California in February 2024, the largest MLS preseason event in the league’s history, bringing together 10 to 14 MLS teams to participate in exhibition games and training sessions.

Unlike the inaugural CVI in 2022, which featured six teams, and the second invitational earlier this year in which 12 teams participated, the third annual CVI will feature the full rosters of players, coaches, and management from each team.

For a comparatively low-revenue league like MLS, expanding the business model can mean the difference between losing money and making a profit. Earlier this year, Forbes valued the Galaxy at $925 million, second-most in MLS, with operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $4 million.

The fields at Empire Polo Club are operated by Goldenvoice, the Los Angeles-based concert promoter and live event company owned by AEG Presents. In October 2021, Goldenvoice signed a long-term agreement giving it operating control of the Empire Polo Club and hosts the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Festival. AEG also controls the Coachella site, which is about 1,000 acres.

For the last DVI, general admission for the All Event passes for each of the games on all matchdays cost $114 and included access to the grounds and bleacher seats for all games played each day at the grounds. The VIP All Event pass cost $976 and provided a VIP tent with lounge seating, VIP Foodie Meets Street fare with refreshments (beer, wine, and non-alcoholic options), VIP restrooms, and VIP bleachers.

In an interview with Forbes, AEG’s CEO Dan Beckerman discussed the growing importance of the CVI: “Every year I would get calls from other teams that wanted to come out and train in the warm weather where the Galaxy train,” Beckerman said, “but we could only accommodate a couple of teams. Then a couple of years ago, after we took control of the Coachella site the idea came to us about doing a preseason and a training camp with other teams in Palm Springs.

“So, the first year,” Beckerman continued, “we just had a few teams out there to see if this would work. The next year we really scaled to 12 teams and it went really well. In its third year, [CVI has] grown into ticketing revenue opportunity, sponsorship activation, broadcast opportunities, and community involvement with our charity golf tournament and other community activities, so it’s turned into a destination for our fans and partners around the country.”

The 10 teams that have committed thus far to the 2024 Coachella Valley Invitational: Austin FC, Charlotte FC, LA Galaxy, LAFC, Minnesota United FC, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes and St. Louis CITY SC.

Even if the number of teams does not increase, the third CVI will feature 20 games versus 18 in the prior invitational, and AEG is projecting attendance of over 20,000 compared with 15,000 last time.

Beckerman believes the CVI has much more potential. “It’s one of those unique opportunities where we get to activate just about every division of our business,” Beckerman said, “like AXS ticketing, LA Galaxy, Goldenvoice [music festivals], and global partnerships. I think we have the footprint and infrastructure to grow this into 20 teams and it came become a real business for us like the Cactus League and Grapefruit league are for MLB.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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