(TAMPA, Fla.) – United Soccer League (USL) – the fastest growing professional soccer league in the world with teams in 19 states and three Canadian provinces – today names Leonardo Santiago as Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
With nearly two decades of sports marketing and communications experience, Santiago joins USL with a specialization in ideation and execution of national brand awareness campaigns, message development and digital marketing. In his new role, he will oversee several areas of USL marketing including public relations, events, broadcasting and partnerships, among others.
“Lenny’s commitment and proven track record make him the perfect fit for the United Soccer League as we continue to experience exciting, sustainable growth,” says Alec Papadakis, USL Chief Executive Officer. “With his added bilingual capabilities, he brings a unique perspective to our diverse league that enables us to reach a broader fan base across North America.”
Formerly, Santiago was Vice President of Communications for Miami FC, where he developed the team’s initial public relations strategy to increase local, regional, national and international media coverage. He also held the same position for Orlando City SC of Major League Soccer where, in 2015, the team generated more than $100 million in publicity while experiencing the highest attendance for a league debutant.
“I am honored to join USL as it continues to build the future of professional soccer in North America,” said Santiago. “Through marketing innovation, strategic communication and industry-wide collaboration, we will help the USL secure its role as a model league in the global soccer landscape.”
Prior to his experience in professional soccer, Santiago spent 11 years with International Speedway Corporation and Daytona International Speedway, where he spearheaded the communications strategy for the $400 million DAYTONA RISING redevelopment project, and received Florida Public Relations Association’s “Golden Image Award” for the Speedway’s repaving project in 2011.
Santiago received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Florida and Bachelors Degree in Communications from Rutgers University.
More Information: www.uslsoccer.com.
About United Soccer League
The United Soccer League is the fastest growing professional soccer league in the world with teams in 19 states and three Canadian provinces. Since 2014, the USL has doubled in size and established a sizeable North American footprint with strong ownership, experienced executives and regional rivalries.
The USL prides itself on three key tenets when identifying a potential expansion city. First, a strong local ownership group. Second, a millennial and diverse population. Third, plans for a soccer-specific stadium to showcase the game in the way it was supposed to be, while giving supporters a first-class venue.
In 2016, the USL experienced record growth with a total season attendance of almost 1.5 million, a 33 percent increase from 2015. The average attendance for the league’s top-10 drawing teams was 6,724, a 25 percent increase year-over-year.
Creating an engaging environment for passionate fans, the USL aims to establish all clubs as owners or primary tenants of 8,000-10,000 seat soccer-specific stadiums by 2020. Teams have invested more than $100 million into stadium infrastructure in the last year to enhance the experience for the USL’s passionate fans, 900-plus players and nearly 100 coaches in building a highly sophisticated league.
Expanding its broadcast reach with ESPN and SiriusXM partnerships, USL “Games of the Week” were available this year on ESPN3 to 99 million households. The USL aired more than 500 games last season through its Match Center. Recently, the USL finalized a $10 million investment and partnership with VISTA Worldlink to create USL Productions, which will create more than 1,000 hours of live match coverage for 2017. Additionally, statistical analysis will be powered by Opta – the world’s leading provider of live, detailed sports data – who will manage and deliver in-depth details for all USL games.
Based in Tampa, Fla., the USL supports its teams with operational excellence through 50-plus employees and 16 departments including Analytics, Competition, Creative, Digital, League Operations, Marketing, Merchandise/Licensing, Team Services, USL Productions and more.