Exploding demographics set the stage for a successful launch into professional rugby
More than a decade ago, Glendale’s leaders developed a bold plan: the future of the city would be built around the business of rugby. Today, the fruits of their labor are plain to see. A powerful economic engine for the region, Infinity Park is at the heart of Glendale’s dynamic community. As rugby’s American focal point, and boasting the first rugby-specific stadium in the country, Glendale has been instrumental in introducing the sport to a national audience.
With more than 40 million U.S. fans and 350 percent participation growth since 2009, both the numbers and the associated economic impact they generate promise to continue to increase. Infinity Park’s storied success has allowed partnerships with local businesses to flourish, fostering growth for all parties involved. Through the power of inspired public-private partnerships, sustained growth, and commercial acumen, Glendale has and will continue to define the business of rugby.
Glendale’s foundation sets the Glendale Raptors rugby team and the city apart in the burgeoning U.S. rugby scene. The Raptors’ rich history and robust foundation is just the beginning, however, as the team is poised for a bright and expansive future as one of the seven founding member teams in the new professional league, Major League Rugby (MLR).
Why Professional Rugby? Why Now?
Rugby’s primary audience is young, well educated, and prepared to experience a new, niche sport – and why wouldn’t they be? Fans and sponsors of mainstream sports have been acutely aware of the failings that come along with them: media saturation, scandal, disrespect, and injury have plagued the NFL and NBA in recent years. But respect and inclusion are the cornerstones of the rugby ethos. Glendale and Infinity Park have embraced those tenets in all rugby programming, with a focus on assuring player safety and providing programs for players and fans to engage with rugby throughout their lives.
The unique outlook on sportsmanship that rugby inspires hasn’t been lost on its players and coaches either – many are multi-sport athletes, but choose rugby because of the camaraderie and athleticism that the game engenders. Exceptional facilities and well-known acclaim also mean that Glendale attracts international players, many of whom come from countries where the sport is already well established. A testament to Glendale’s grasp of the business of rugby, these welcome transplants understand the entrepreneurial spirit and unbound potential for growth that professional rugby represents.
The Raptors will join six other founding teams in the inaugural season of MLR including Austin Elite Rugby, Houston SaberCats, New Orleans Gold, San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves, and the Utah Warriors.
MLR boasts superb leadership with the background and ability to spearhead league and team efforts to launch a successful professional league. Starting on April 21, 2018, MLR will field a 10-week game schedule, with each team playing eight regular season games h two bye weeks. The Raptors will host an exhibition match against New Orleans on March 10 at Infinity Park that will be free to the public.